Portuguese Food in Northern Maine
We are great fans of Portuguese food, but it's hard to get the real thing outside of a few places like Somerville and New Bedford MA, Newark NJ, and major cities in the east. We were intrigued, therefore, to see that an article on food in Deer-Isle Maine (on the tip of the Blue Hills penninsula) reported that there was a new Portuguese Restaurant called the Cockatoo. Deer-Isle is about 30 minutes south of Route 1, and about 90 mins from the Schoodic Penninsula where we are staying, but I'm always up for an adventure, so my wife and I decided to try it. The restaurant was not easy to find -- once we got to Deer Isle, we had to proceed south toward the Sunset area (which may be in Stonington - I'm not sure), and then followed signs down a secondary road, which became a dirt road and then a thinner dirt road, where the restaurant sits on a lovely site, amidst a group of vacation cottages (thus the dirt road) overlooking a cover (Goose Cover, I think).
To cut to the chase, Cockatoo offers real Portuguese food -- not the best I've ever had, but very good and far better than one would expect on a vacation down east. It also offers a range of more traditional Maine fare, with Portuguese specialties interspersed. We started out with mussels in a traditional garlicky sauce, which were excellent -- not all the plumpest, but not a closed shell in the lot either; and codfish cakes, which were flavorful, potato-based, and deep fried to perfection, though I would have liked a little more bacala in them. Then we had a traditional kale and potato soup with nice chourico (not linguica, but what do you expect that far north)-- very nicely done (needed salt but that was easy to fix) , an excellent traditional treatment but with local kale that young and light green and still a tiny bit crisp (which worked well). For entrees, we had fried clams and a portuguese steak, both of which were outstanding. The fried clams were fried to perfection, sweet, and substantial, served on bread with banana pepper rings. The steak was a perfect traditional treatment -- a nice cut, sauted in a perfectly executed garlicky wine sauce (not at all greasy as can sometimes be the case), and topped with a perfectly fried egg and vinegar peppers - as good as I've had anywhere. Both entrees came with lots of wonderful french fries in the Portuguese style, as well as rice (with the steak) and a salad (with the clams). Although several dressings were offered, my wife opted for the house dressing, a simple but very good oil-and-vinegar (with imported Portuguese olive oil and vinegar on teh table). We were too full for dessert, so cannot comment on those.
In sum, a great reward for our willingness to drive anywhere to try something unexpected. I would definitely go back.
Thanks for review, and the notice of a place people might not discover otherwise. Without meaning to quibble TOO much, however, I'd point out that "Northern Maine" usually describes the area above Bangor, while the Deer Isle area is more usually called "Downeast". Glad you enjoyed your visit to our wonderful state! I'm not sure Cockatoo is new; seems to me its been around for several years.
This sounds outstanding. Not only is this situated in a stunning part of Maine, but
I was crying reading those menus. I lived in Southern Portugal for a long time and grew up on this food, and make it at home often, but I can tell Suzen is the real deal. Folks: make the effort to visit: