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One Day, Two Meals, in Portland?

The splitting of the New England boards has left Portland chowhound restaurant recommendations in limbo, or so it seems.
Two foodie couples will be able to have one dinner, one lunch in Portland late in August. What are people's faves? On the list of possibles are Fore Street, Street & Co., Hugo's. Duck Fat for lunch. We're open to as many suggestions, preferably annotated ;-), as you guys are willing to provide.
So excited to be able to eat in one of America's top food cities, at last! TIA.

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  1. Many people will chime in with a few names, but Hugo's is my favorite restaurant anywhere, and I live in Boston. My wife has family in the Portland area, but we don't say "We haven't seen your family in a while, we should go to Maine", we say "We haven't been to Hugo's in a while, let's visit your family."

    I have enjoyed their regular menu on many occasions, but I can't recommend more highly the blind six course tasting. You do need to be able to eat a variety of items but even I, a person who ate no seafood until his early 30's has never been served a piece of fish there I didn't love. Each course is not huge, but is wonderful, and a six course meal will make you satiated without feeling bloated. They will also do a nice per course 1/2 glass wine pairing for you.

    The menu changes constantly, but on our last visit (two weeks ago) the highlights of our meal were a mushroom consomme with three pillows of pasta filled with English Peas and truffles, and a chocolate consomme for dessert that was truly sublime. Other courses included a poached quali egg with proscuitto foam, ginger cured Scottish salmon, local line caught cod done 3 ways, slow roasted guinea hen, and chocolate three ways (including the consomme). I also like Fore Street very much, but it's a completely different experience. Heartier portions of well grilled/cooked fish and meats, done more simply. I have not eaten at Street and Co. Don't miss Duckfat for lunch. Those fries, yum! Enjoy yourself in my second favorite New England city!

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    Fore Street
    288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

    1. If you want great seafood, Street & Co is, IMHO, simply wonderful. Fore Street, well, of course, divine.

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      Fore Street
      288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

      Street & Co
      33 Wharf St., Portland, ME 04101

      1. A tough call, indeed. I would suggest that you'll eventually need to flip a mental coin among Fore St., Hugo's, and 555, each of which has its own unique quality to recommend. Much as I love Street & Co., it's definitely not in the same league as the others, simply because the menu is (by design) much more limited. Hugo's: creative molecular gastronomy. Fore St., as noted below, excellent and varied selection of essentially grilled & roasted food, as good as it gets (particularly the wood-roasted mussels). 555: a great balance between them. You can't go wrong!

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        Street & Co
        33 Wharf St., Portland, ME 04101

        1 Reply
        1. re: mainemal

          Mainemal sums it up pretty well .I might add Bresca, and Evangeline to the mix. Back Bay Grill is more old school but consistent

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          Back Bay Grill
          65 Portland St, Portland, ME 04101

          Bresca
          111 Middle Street, Portland, ME 04101

        2. Thanks so much, everyone. I've shared this with my comrades-in-dining. Now our question is: how can we wait until August!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh well, we can spend part of the time trying to decide which will be THE one among the treasures for dinner.

          11 Replies
          1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

            Three that are closer to the places you are interested in are HILTON Garden Inn {Prtland Downton} Residence Inn donntown. Portland Harbor Hotel. All of these are in or on the fringe of the Old Port. At this time of year they will be much more in the swing of things than the Eastland and much more expensive. The Hilton Garden is one block from Hugos and Duck Fat and Fore St. Two blocks from St. and Co. You are right to be apprehensive about the Eastland.Good luck!

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            Old Port Cafe
            111 Main St, Winterport, ME 04496

            Duck Fat
            43 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101

            1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

              If you do end up @ Eastland, be aware that there are distinctly different sized rooms. We were first put in a room that barely held 2 twin beds and with virtually no whining found that we could move to a room 4 times as large. Still, all the places that LeRique suggests would be sooooooo much nicer albeit pricier. What the Hay, it's your vacation!

              1. re: hitpas

                Thanks, I am going to look into all 3 suggested, not to mention they are steps away from several places where we want to dine at...

                Thanks for your help!

                1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                  There's also the Portland Regency which is lovely - it's an old armory. Their restaurant, 20 Milk St, is quite good.
                  The Hilton Garden is next door (and up a flight of stairs) to Fore Street. And really right next door to Standard Baking Co where you can get coffee, tea and absolutely amazing baked goods to nosh on in your room.

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                  Fore Street
                  288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

                  Standard Baking Co
                  75 Commercial St, Portland, ME

                  1. re: hitpas

                    I can not wait to try Fore St., 555, Duck fat and so many more...will now have to check out 20 Milk St.!

                    For a cool hang out and relax place how is the DiMillo's (the floating place)???

                    1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                      Avoid, avoid, avoid: completely touristy and uninteresting food. I'll let others weigh in on good alternatives.

                      1. re: mainemal

                        I hope you add Hugo's to your list of places to try. I'd omit 555, as the one meal I had there was OK, but not, in my opinion, up to the standards of Hugo's or Fore Street (though I seem to be in the minority on that opinion). As Mainemal says, avoid Demillo's at all costs.

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                        Fore Street
                        288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

                        1. re: kimfair1

                          Yes, Hugo's is one place we want to try.

                          We will be there for 6 days so I know we will have time to hit some great places..

                          Thanks for the heads up on Demillo's ...will stear clear

                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            DiMilo's - tourist trap for sure BUT... if it's a nice day and you want to have a drink or two on deck with a view great view you really can't beat it on the mainland. I wouldn't eat there, but a drink? Why not. If you stay at the Eastland you are in good position for the restaurants in the Arts District (555, Local 188, etc.) though far from the best hotel in town. Even though I'm local, spent a night at the Portland Harbor and had a great room and a great meal, even though it is a hotel.

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                            Local 188
                            685 Congress St, Portland, ME 04102

                        2. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                          20 Milk is good, but not instead of the other places. Breakfast is probably dandy.

                2. The W. boys are visiting Po'tland in July. Duck Fat for lunch, Fore Street for dinner.

                  Whoopie pies for snacktime?

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                  Fore Street
                  288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

                  Duck Fat
                  43 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Bob W

                    Get thee to Two Fat Cats, around the corner from Fore St. on India.

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                    Two Fat Cats
                    47 India St, D Portland, ME

                    1. re: Bob W

                      don't miss cranberry island kitchen for your whoopie fix. just outside of the old port.

                    2. I'm staying at the Eastland Park right now, and I find it quite nice. It's an older hotel...not perfect, but clean and comfortable, and front desk staff VERY friendly and helpful. Also, free wi-fi that works. There's no exercise room or spa, but there's a spa down the street, and who needs an exercise room when this is such a great walking city.

                      Not keen on the food at the Eastland Park, though...pricey and ho-hum so far. Their top floor lounge has a great view, but only serves apps, and I was totally underwhelmed by the quesadilla I had there. However, there are no shortage of restaurants in the area. I guess I'm going to have to see if I can afford Hugo's, since every Portland post raves. I had a great bento-box lunch at a new japanese/korean place, Soju, down congress st. a couple of blocks.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Altaira

                        Rule Number 1: Never eat in a hotel.
                        Rule Number 2: Never order Mexican food at an unfamiliar restaurant in New England (Maine for sure.).
                        Rule Number 3: Never order Mexican food at a hotel in Maine (The world?).

                        1. re: Altaira

                          WOW thanks Altaira so much for the update...I can't not wait to eat myway through Portland! If you go to Hugo's let me know if it was worth it...that is one place on my list, even if it only for some apps and cocktails...As for Portland being a walking city...that pnly means I can walk off all those calories I am going consume :)

                          Thanks for the heads up on the Soju, looks like I will add to my list.

                          1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                            I think apps at the bar at Hugo's is a great idea. I was rather envious of the lovely little plates I saw heading toward the bar area. But then, let it be said, I'm one of those in the minority that is just underwhelmed by Hugo's. Blasphemy, I know, but there, I've said it.

                            1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                              Fresh out of a can ,this is Miane after all.

                          2. if you eat sushi you must not miss miyaki. a tiny jewel box of a place in the west end. a very short walk from your hotel. i'll go out on a limb and say you will never have better sushi

                            5 Replies
                              1. re: pat bagg

                                I'm heading up there for 10 days this weekend and have had sushi at every other place in Portland, but I'm dying to try Miyake. With a place like this it seems like I should get the omakase tasting and let Miyake or his chefs do their thing. What is your opinion?

                                  1. re: LeRique

                                    ...and if you drop a couple things you like, Masa will steer your Omakase that way. I mentioned to him how I thought the torched tai (snapper) was the bomb and I got 4 different snappers on my plate - two from Japan. Delicious!

                              2. While I agree with almost everything that's been suggested here so far (555 is a personal favorite of mine), I'd also like to throw Walter's and Bar Lola into the mix as dinner contenders. Walter's is more casual than Fore or Hugo's, but I have been eating there for over fifteen years and have yet to have a bad experience. Try the calamari appetizer.

                                Bar Lola, located on Munjoy Hill, is a recent discovery for me, and a very pleasant one at that. An intimate and inviting atmosphere, friendly service, and local ingredients so fresh they practically hop off the plate. I love that they break the menu down into serving sizes, so you can mix and match according to your appetite.

                                For a very casual lunch, try Fit to Eat, a sandwich shop on Middle Street in the Old Port. They make their own bread, yum!

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                                Bar Lola
                                100 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04000

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: lagata181

                                  Thanks for the info...checked out Bar Lola's menu, looks amazing. Also just checked out Walter's menu...they had me at the Hearts of Palm salad...is it fresh hearts of palm??

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                                  Bar Lola
                                  100 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04000

                                2. Susan's Fish 'N Chips, out Forrest Ave.; artery clogging fried seafood at its best. Funky, good fried clams, oyster, shrimp, scallops and ice cream. Funky atmosphere, free coffee and BYOB.
                                  A good deal for the big city. Lots of ethnic food out Forrest too.

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                                  Susan's Fish & Chips
                                  1135 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04103

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    Miyake's 5 course tasting menu @ $50 is the most amazing value ever, if you value incredibly fresh, incredibly innovative sushi. Not your grandma's sushi, for sure. Killer, AND BYOB! Buy a good bottle of sake at the funky little store next door. In NY, that 5 course meal would probably cost 2-3 times more.

                                    LOVE Boda, as well. Dinner only. Best beef skewers I ever ate. Supposed to be authentic Thai street food, but never at on a Thai street, so don't know. But so good. Same owners have a veg. Thai place nearby called Green Elephant. Also quite good.