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Portland Saturday Dinner Help - Hugo's Alternative?

9
919jab Nov 17, 2011 02:16 PM

We are coming up from Baltimore on Saturday to meet some friends for dinner. We have reservations at Hugo's, but I'm concerned it's a bit stuffier than I was looking for - is that a fair read? I think we'd prefer a relatively lively dining room.

Can anyone suggest any alternatives? We are totally flexible on cuisine, and flexible within reason on price and time. Thanks in advance for any help.

  1. h
    HDinCentralME Nov 17, 2011 03:55 PM

    I wouldn't describe Hugo's as "stuffy" but I might use "fussy"...w/ tiny portions of highly creative dishes where you are expected to put the emphasis of your evening on the food.

    If you are looking for top-end food but also a chance to relax and socialize w/ your friends I'd look to Back Bay Grill or 555.

    -----
    Back Bay Grill
    65 Portland St, Portland, ME 04101

    1 Reply
    1. re: HDinCentralME
      m
      mainemal Nov 21, 2011 07:28 AM

      I am in complete agreement with HD on both counts. My SO and I find Hugo's to be somewhat affected, and to be honest, the service leaves something to be desired: if you don't along with each and every pretension of the place, they don't treat you well. BBG is our "go to" place for excellent creative food and service in a much more welcoming atmosphere, and 555 comes right along behind. And for food almost as good, in a more relaxed bistro atmosphere, consider Bar Lola on Congress St.

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      Bar Lola
      100 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04000

    2. d
      DavidPalmer Nov 18, 2011 04:46 AM

      Fore Street is quite lively and not quite as "fussy". And not exactly a huge downgrade since you'd be going from one James Beard award winner to another.

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      Fore Street
      288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

      1. k
        kimfair1 Nov 18, 2011 08:39 AM

        I have not eaten at Back Bay Grill, but have at Fore Street, 555 (VERY underwhelmed considering the love heaped upon it on this board), and Hugo's. Hugo's is not only our favorite restaurant in Portland, but in New England (we live in Boston). I've never had a bad meal there, and have never had any issue with stuffiness. It's the kind of place you could wear a t-shirt and jeans to yet get amazing food. I'd stick with them. I've never quite understood picking a restaurant on the "liveliness" of the room. It's all about the food to me, and Hugo's is the best of those isted in this thread (IMHO).

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        Fore Street
        288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

        Back Bay Grill
        65 Portland St, Portland, ME 04101

        1. m
          maina Nov 18, 2011 12:41 PM

          I too think word "fussy" applies to Hugos. That's not always a bad thing, but I can see how you might like a livelier vibe, depending on your mood and your dining companion(s). In addition to Fore St, I'd add Petite Jacquelines. We had a terrific meal there, in a very upbeat enviroment with excellent service. We were surprised that they stayed busy well after 9pm, when many restaurants tend to slow down. So if you dine late, or if you want to linger over drinks and dessert you don't feel like you are keeping the restaurant from closing. Would make sure to make reservations wherever you decide to go.

          1 Reply
          1. re: maina
            m
            mainemal Nov 21, 2011 07:30 AM

            We also like Petite Jacqueline, but the fare, while completely delicious, is doing a great job of recreating the classica Parisian bistro and so isn't perhaps as innovative as the others mentioned.

          2. k
            kimfair1 Nov 20, 2011 01:48 PM

            Where did you end up?

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