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Planning a Rushed Eating Tour of Portland!

k
KANGAGIRL Jun 15, 2011 07:25 PM

Hi,

My girlfriend and i have decided to quickly plan a 4 day trip to Portland Maine.

We are two Australians living in Montreal and this will be our first time to Maine!

When traveling we like to eat special and i was hoping someone could give me a thumbs up or down or even offer a bit of advice on our eating plan:

Day 1 - Lunch - Duckfat. I read this everywhere and after a long drive i will be hungry, steering clear of any poutine though.

Day 1 - Dinner - Bresca. Do we need to dress up? Is this as good as hear? Or is there a bit of hype?

Day 2 - Lunch - open to suggestions maybe some seafood (good quality low price - if possible).

Day 2 - Dinner - Fore Street. I don't have a reservation (arrgghh) but i read i could put my name on the door at around 5:30. If things go bad does anyone have a suggestion to replace.

Day 3 - Lunch - We plan to head up to Camden for a night so we will be close to our dinner plans. Can someone suggest a nice but not to pricey place for lunch. Either on the drive up from Portland or around the area.

Day 3 - Dinner - Primo - Heard good things and a splattering of scary 'they lost it' kind of things. I'm nervous! Should i go? I have a booking, please tell me its still great.

Day 4 - Maybe driving up to Acadia National Park. Don't know if there is anywhere around the park. Maybe a cute town with something simple for lunch. Please help.

Day 4 - Dinner - Crap drive thru food as i drive the 7 hours back to Montreal.

What do you think? I really will appreciate any little suggestion and or comment.

Thanks for reading

Tye

-----
Fore Street
288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

Bresca
111 Middle Street, Portland, ME 04101

  1. Niblet Jun 16, 2011 09:12 PM

    Sounds like you already have your plan in place, but just wanted to share my experiences at a couple of Portland places this week in case it's helpful.

    I was at Nosh for an early dinner. I hesitated about going there considering I wasn't in the mood for a sandwich which is their thing, but there were people in there and the Greek place next door didn't have anyone in it yet. I went with 2 things on the back of the menu: the pickled veg, which were fantastic, especially the cauliflower (the plate also had pickled cukes, beets, and onions), with a nice heat to 'em. I got another order to go, I loved them that much. I also got the "Noshos" which were tortilla chips topped with spiced shredded beef (or possibly pork?) and drizzled with spicy cheese and topped with jalapenos. The first scent I got was of cinnamon, completely unexpected, and the blend of flavors was crazy good, like nothing I've ever had. These were perfect with the Marshall Wharf beer and I was in heaven. I was tempted by the fries but had no room, plus why waste the chance to try something different. I was also tempted by the tempura fried pickles with chipotle mayo. Plus the bartender was wicked nice and I had a nice chat with friendly patron sitting next to me. I can't wait to go back.

    Also if you'll be in Portland on a Wednesday afternoon they have a farmer's market downtown which is fun to explore. At the Market, right by the farmer's market (which is like a foodcourt except every place serves high quality food) I went upstairs to the soup place for poblano cream soup which again blew me away, it was spicy as they promised, and a perfectly fresh roll with gorgeous crust came with it. Next to the soup place is a genuine Southern food place; got some boiled peanuts (genuine: the cook accused me of being a Yankee who probably wouldn't know how to eat boiled peanuts, hooray! the real deal!). If there was a food court like this in Boston I'd be in danger of going there every day.

    In short, the food in Portland is mind-blowing. I want to try more places, the challenge next time I'm there will be forcing myself to try another new place when I can't get those Noshos out of my head.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Niblet
      Niblet Jun 25, 2011 07:30 AM

      Re: Nosh, I retract my rave. I was in town again on business this week, and went to Nosh on Wednesday evening. I was psyched for Noshos and maybe fried pickles this time. It was a different bartender, not the friendly guy from last week. This bartender was thin with tatoo sleeves, and he greeted me unsmilingly with, " can I help you ma'm" which took me slightly aback, and on my request for a porter or stout except not Guinness, said they only had Guinness. When I later noted the sign behind him and said, "I just saw that, you don't have any more of the chocolate stout?" he replied "those are cans." Just very unwelcoming. In retrospect I wish I had just left at the start, or in response to his greeting looked confused and said, "this isn't the senior center" and then left. Even to myself it sounds like I'm projecting my own issues, but I came in happy and psyched and left wishing I'd gone somewhere else. And that I hadn't posted such a glowing review.

      Anyhow, I had the Noshos again, and they were good. But there is really not that much else on the menu that appeals to me. You really have to be in the mood for a plate of picked veg, which is a strong flavor and I wasn't in that mood, or fried pickles with spicy mayo which are the only other possibly appealing options. This is a place to go if you really want a sandwich, or fries with dipping sauces.

      There are so many fantastic places in Portland so I'll check out another one of them next time I'm in Portland.

    2. MidCoastMaineiac Jun 16, 2011 06:58 AM

      Primo is the REAL DEAL. Any splattering of unkind reviews would be on par with ANY restaurant...my guess is it that Primo probably runs at about a 95% "favorability rating". In my opinion, it's the best restaurant in New England...or at least the best I've been to (and I have been to alot). I never make a reservation...I always saddle up to one of the bars (the "bar" bar, or the anitipasti bar)...I LOVE the vibe up there so much more than the dining rooms. But either way, you'll love it.

      Bar Harbor is the town near Acadia you'll probably spend time in...and there are other threads on Bar Harbor dining here on Chowhound...check those out.

      Reds is a good option on the way up...Wiscasset is a cute little town...I think you'll like the setting. If you veer off of route 1 for any other stop...try Damariscotta too.

      You'll probably do breakfast in Camden...if you're staying at a B&B, you're already covered. If not, Boynton McKay is a decent choice. I like the Camden Deli too...plus the view from the dining area is what Maine is all about.

      Ok, now...can you bring me some vegemite and VB??!! Maybe a couple meat pies or sausage rolls too?? =)

      -----
      Camden Deli
      37 Main St, Camden, ME 04843

      6 Replies
      1. re: MidCoastMaineiac
        k
        KANGAGIRL Jun 16, 2011 08:43 AM

        Hey Mid Coast.

        Thanks for the detailed post i feel reassured already.

        I guess im a sucker for a bad review and should stick with the law of averages :)

        Bar Harbor is on the list!

        You should try vegimite with VB its a great receipe for a.... bad time :)

        I would kill for a sausage roll and pie from back home!

        1. re: KANGAGIRL
          MidCoastMaineiac Jun 16, 2011 10:26 AM

          I doubt any restaurant on these boards is immune from the occasional "hater"...even Duckfat and Fore Street (which i both love).

          One of my favorite memories is chowing on a meat pie with ketchup and drinking some Carlton while watching some footy at the MCG!!

          1. re: MidCoastMaineiac
            k
            KANGAGIRL Jun 16, 2011 01:22 PM

            Ha Carlton are doing well this year! I'm from the West Coast and go for the Eagles! Footy pies are the best just dont read whats inside em.

        2. re: MidCoastMaineiac
          the_MU Jun 16, 2011 11:31 AM

          If you can't stand the wait at Red's (I sure can't) you can stop at Sea Basket, which you will pass before arriving in the center of Wiscasset. Aside from the ginormous lobster rolls at Red's, there's nothing you can get there that isn't equally good at Sea Basket. I especially don't care for the extra-thick batter on the clams at Red's.

          -----
          Sea Basket
          303 Bath Rd, Wiscasset, ME

          1. re: the_MU
            k
            KANGAGIRL Jun 16, 2011 12:59 PM

            Wow guys! Thanks everyone for the great responses. Can't wait to get there.

            1. re: KANGAGIRL
              i
              irwin Jun 25, 2011 03:38 PM

              So Kangagirl -- when is the trip, or is it over ?
              Can't wait to hear you selections and satisfaction !!!!!!

        3. k
          KANGAGIRL Jun 16, 2011 05:19 AM

          Managed to lock in reservations for Fore Street :)

          I love you opentable.

          Now i just need a not to expensive seafood lunch option in Portland and breakfast suggestions.

          What do people think of Fore street & Bresca vs 555?

          -----
          Fore Street
          288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

          4 Replies
          1. re: KANGAGIRL
            h
            HDinCentralME Jun 16, 2011 09:27 AM

            Can't find the "breakfast" thread I wanted to link so...

            Marcy's, Oak St..."hole-in-the-wall" solid diner food

            Porthole...breakfast/brunch on the water

            Hot Suppa...Congress St, cafe/diner

            More upscale weekend brunch: Caiola's, Local 188

            -----
            Caiola's
            58 Pine St, Portland, ME 04102

            Local 188
            685 Congress St, Portland, ME 04102

            1. re: HDinCentralME
              k
              KANGAGIRL Jun 16, 2011 01:56 PM

              do i need a reservation for Local 188 & Caiolas?

              I tried to use open table for 188 but it says they are booked out for the next 8 weeks.

              I then checked 8 weeks later and its still booked out lol.

              -----
              Caiola's
              58 Pine St, Portland, ME 04102

              Local 188
              685 Congress St, Portland, ME 04102

            2. re: KANGAGIRL
              the_MU Jun 16, 2011 11:24 AM

              In-town Portland is not your best option for seafood shack food. You could go to Gilbert's Chowder House, I guess, or Free Range Seafood on Commercial (never been but they advertise lobster rolls and things), or, further up Commercial past the S. Portland bridge, I think it's called Benny's, which is an actual shack with a deck and a view of the extremely working waterfront -- think giant oil tanks and cargo ships. I went there once last year after driving past it for over a decade. It was ok but nothing to write home about.

              Or, you could head to the old Cape Elizabeth standard: Lobster Shack at Two Lights. The food's ok. Nobody offers a better view while eating your onion rings & fried clams.

              -----
              Lobster Shack
              225 Two Lights Rd, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107

              1. re: the_MU
                m
                monopod Jun 16, 2011 02:27 PM

                I personally love Two Lights. It's the quintessential Maine experience, eating lobster and fried clams on top of a rocky cliff overlooking a lighthouse and the ocean. Just be careful not to leave your food if you're eating outside, even for a second - I saw a poor guy get up to get some napkins, and within seconds a cloud of seagulls had taken his entire meal. The look on his face was so sad...

            3. c
              calliope_nh Jun 15, 2011 07:35 PM

              Fore Street is very good. For lunch on the way to Camden, I would do Red's in Wiscasset if it is a nice day. You will have to stand on line for some time, especially if you are going on the weekend but I think it is worth it.

              -----
              Fore Street
              288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

              5 Replies
              1. re: calliope_nh
                k
                KANGAGIRL Jun 16, 2011 03:57 AM

                Thanks for the suggestion i will try and check it out, some seaside lobster sounds great!

                Do you have any suggestions for breakfast in Portland or Camden?

                Have you ever been to Bresca or Primo?

                -----
                Bresca
                111 Middle Street, Portland, ME 04101

                1. re: KANGAGIRL
                  s
                  sciencediet Jun 16, 2011 08:27 AM

                  Bresca is totally worth it. It's a very small place and people generally look pretty put together, if not formal.

                  You aren't going to find really cheap seafood (a lobster roll or a plate of fried clams will be over $10 anywhere), but for a lunch in Portland on a sunny day I recommend the deck at the Port Hole.

                  -----
                  Bresca
                  111 Middle Street, Portland, ME 04101

                  1. re: KANGAGIRL
                    m
                    mjoyous Jun 16, 2011 01:57 PM

                    If you want a light breakfast in Portland, try the Standard Bakery for pastries--great morning rolls. I eat at Primo whenever I'm in Maine (Camden), but really prefer eating at the bar these days.
                    As for the drive up to Camden and lunch-- Red's lobster rolls are great (and expensive) but the wait can easily exceed an hour, and parking is awful. If you like fried seafood you might try the SeaBasket which is also in Wiscasset, a couple of miles south of Reds.

                    1. re: mjoyous
                      MidCoastMaineiac Jun 16, 2011 02:50 PM

                      Yes, Standard Baking Company...the BEST bread and pastries in the state.

                      Just to be clear...Primo is in Rockland...but I'm guessing mjoyous that you are saying whenever you are in Camden, you head to Primo in Rockland. =)

                      If you do find yourself in Rockland at anytime during breakfast hours, Home Kitchen Cafe is the best in the Camden/Rockport/Rockland area. If you're heading to Acadia though, you'll want to wake up early...so that diversion might be out.

                      -----
                      Home Kitchen Cafe
                      650 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841

                      1. re: MidCoastMaineiac
                        m
                        mjoyous Jun 17, 2011 06:16 AM

                        Yes, Rockland. Though my new most favorite ME restaurant is in Rockport, Shepards Pie (thantks to all of you who turned me on to that!)

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