How's my list ? Critique my Portland dining choices please!!
Hi all-- we're coming to Portland for the first time, during the first week of May. (I like to plan ahead....) Here's what I have so far; let me know what you think. We're staying at a b&b so will most likely eat in the a.m. there. I'm not a fan of a crazy busy breakfast or brunch on the weekend, but it seems like Marcy's and Bintliff's are a must, so I'll hit those on the weekdays.
Friday late morning arrival
J's Oyster/ Happy Hour Snack
Petite Jacqueline/ Late-ish Dinner
Maybe pick something up at Standard Baking and head to
Cape Elizabeth to the Lobster Shack for early lunch
The Front Room/ Dinner
Otto Pizza / Lunch
Street & Co. / Dinner
Marcy's / Breakfast
Benkay / Lunch
Tuesday we check out/
Bintliff's / Breakfast
I've got other things on the list for drinks like Novare Res, Bar Lola, Grace. We are probably going to really stick with the seafood instead of looking for a great steak, etc. Any dinner spots I should swap out? Fore Street instead of Street & Co??? Thanks for any input !
I think your choices are great.....
Marcy's has changed hands and have not heard anything about the new owners ability to cook so keep this in mind. We really enjoy Walters, Bintiff's, The Front Room and Street & Co is my favorite.....
I wasn't impressed at Petite Jacqueline....
Sounds like a good itinerary. Not sure what time Tom (Fisherman's Grill) opens on Friday, so you may want to call ahead. Be sure to take cash as they don't accept credit/debit cards.
I'd recommend Scratch Bakery for your Saturday AM (Scatch + lighthouse visit is one of my favorite things to do), but the problem is that if you don't get there early, they'll be wiped out of bagels. So Standard Baking is probably the way to go. That said, if you're thinking of visiting the lighthouse, I think that Bite Into Maine (lobster roll truck that sets up in the park) will be up-and-running for the season by the time you visit. So that would be an alternative to the Lobster Shack.
People tend to run hot or cold on Street & Company. I've never had a bad experience there, so I hope you'll check it out.
Personally, I'd pick a different place for sushi, I've been underwhelmed by Benkay. I really like Yosaku, for consistently very good sushi; Miyake is, by reputation, the place to go if you want interesting/special/fancy sushi.
Bar Lola's food is wonderful, you might want to consider a meal there, but service can be slow. I tend to enjoy Street and Company, but it can be a little hit or miss. Emilitsa, on Congress, serves wonderful Greek food, including very fresh fish, and is my favorite place (and I would pick it over Street and Company or the Front Room).
If you're looking for a list of "musts", I agree with Yosaku over Benkay for sushi, although neither are sushi "musts". Miyaki would fit that description more aptly. Marcy's and Bintliff's: A diner and "crazy weekend brunch place", respectively. Breakfasts not to be missed would be the Front Room (Try the Gnocci, spinach, lardons, poached eggs and hollandaise), Hot Suppa or Becky's (also, just a diner).
I don't agree with the Bourdain hype over J's. Yes, its an institution. Yes, some people love it for it's waterfront "character" but it doesn't suit me. If that's the feel you want, go up the block to Gilbert's and sit out back on the waterfront deck. Otherwise, for happy hour "Snack", my vote is for duckfat. You could do this for lunch too and check out Novare Res for great beer, cheese and charcuterie as your happy hour snack.
For Monday, my favorite is Martini Mondays at the Armory Lounge in the Portland Regency Hotel. Well made cocktails, discounted prices 4-6pm and free cheese, fruit and crackers.
I would skip Walter's (mediocre food in a sterile, hotel lobby kind of feel dining room and go to Emilitsa, an excellent Greek (think Mediterranean whole fish and grilled lamb chops not mousakka and pasticcio). Fore St is excellent and better than Street and Co, IMHO and while their cuisine may seem simple, it is perfectly executed with some of the best desserts in town AND they were doing "farm to table" 15 years ago when most places still only knew the phone number to SYSCO...
Agree with almost all of Noreaster's comments. Used to be big Benkay fan (still like it a lot) but Yosaku has become my regular place with Miyake reserved for special meals. Ditto for the Marcy', Bintliff, and Front Room recs. Early May I would add the Porthole for breakfast especially if you end up skipping J's (I'm a fan) but need a gritty waterfront fix. I also tend to do Duckfat more as a snack. For me, after the fries (amazing) and shakes there's a drop off - that's why lunch in the area for me tends to be splitting a "slab" of pizza at Micucci's then walk across the street to Duckfat for fries.
I enjoy Street & Co. but it's not quite as consistent as Fore St. I also agree somewhat with the assessment of Walter's. It's very good but I think one can do better at that price point. Emilitsa is wonderful and seems to get overlooked on this board. The whole fish is right up there with anything else I've had in town.
I like the OP's bar choices - actually hit up Nuvare, Grace and Ginko Blue the other night. All great. Except for the decor at Ginko Blue which seems very out of place in Portland, they have good cocktails and if you hit it right, great music. I've never thought of Bar Lola as a "bar" (go figure) as much as a place to have some nice small plates. Maybe a drink and a small plate before going to the Front Room for dinner (they're a block apart).
Fisherman's Grill has great fried clams but it's a little out of the way.
I still hit up Otto at least twice a week.
If your B and B is on the west end, Caiolas should warrant consideration for dinner or brunch.
Edit: Just read the James Beard semi-finalists and they include Petite Jacqueline (best New restaurant USA). Fore Street (outstanding restaurant USA), and best chefs Northeast at Bresca, Emilitsa, and Boda. Not bad for a city of 63000. All worthy of consideration. Boda is also a great later night dinner.