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24 hours in Portland...my plans so far

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Hi all,

My boyfriend and I are taking the train (from Boston) to Portland this Saturday--first time for both of us in years. For such a short jaunt, I want to make sure I eat well. We are staying near the Old Port and will not have a car.

Light Saturday lunch: Light is imperative, since we will be arriving in ME at about 2 and have a 7:30 dinner res. I was originally thinking J's Oysters, but are Yelp reviews correct in that they pre-shuck their oysters? That was a turn-off. Anything else that would be relatively inexpensive (max $40 for both, without alcohol)?

Saturday dinner: Reservations at Cinque Terre. This is a non-negotiable, as we have a gift certificate here. Any recent menu advice? I eat seafood and generally order fish when I eat out (but eat no other meat); boyfriend eats every part of the pig, so to speak.

Sunday lunch or brunch: Duckfat? I'm a French fry freak, and good Belgian fries aren't easy to find in Boston. If not Duckfat, I'd prefer a place where reservations aren't necessary and there won't be a line--probably eating around noon-ish. I'd prefer more lunch-oriented options than breakfast--as a semi-vegetarian I find that if I don't want eggs or sweets, i'm often out of luck on some brunch menus.

Finally, any place you can recommend for Saturday night drinks? We are in our 30s; don't want anything approaching clubby or college-y. SO is a beer drinker, I prefer a low-key place with good cocktails. But really, I'll drink whatever as long as I don't feel like I'm at a frat party/in Faneuill Hall/listening to shitty music. How is Novare Res?

Thanks in advance!

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Cinque Terre
36 Wharf Street, Portland, ME 04101

J's Oyster
5 Portland Pier, Portland, ME 04101

Old Port Cafe
111 Main St, Winterport, ME 04496

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  1. Yes they pre-open the oysters. NOVARE res has a full bar, mostly beer though and for brunch maybe Caiolas. If you are staying downtown near the waerfront all these places are within blocks of each other. Old Port SeaGrill for oysters. Duck fat for fries. Have fun!

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    Caiola's
    58 Pine St, Portland, ME 04102

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. I recall fondly walking into J's Oysters. The whole bar area looked up to greet me. And then I looked down at a bunch of pre shucked oysters and walked out. One of them actually came out and tried to welcome me back. I protested cruelty to oysters being mishandled in death and went on my merry way.

        I love the duck panini and duckfat fries and duck gravy. Take them down to the waterfront park for a picnic.

        I also like Front Room for brunch.

        1. I am by no means an expert, but spent approx 24 hrs in Portland a few summers ago. J's Oysters is worth it--try to sit outside on the water. Also, if you can go, Street & Co for dinner was possibly one of the best meal's I've had. Ever. Really super. Maybe a post-dinner after your real dinner?

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          J's Oyster
          5 Portland Pier, Portland, ME 04101

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

          1. I love the ladies who run J's Oyster but the oysters there are awful. Everything else about it is fine - steamers are first rate. If you are so inclined, bring your oyster knife with you and choose from the local oysters sold at Harbor Fish Market. They run around $1.20 each.

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            J's Oyster
            5 Portland Pier, Portland, ME 04101