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Jul 15, 2012 09:43 AM

Dinner/after dinner in Portland, Me

I will be in Portland Saturday night, and I am looking for suggestion for a good place to eat. I have eaten at 555 before, but other than that, any dining experience will be new to me. Could also use a suggestion for a laid back bar/lounge with live music or maybe pool for after dinner. I am a foodie, so I don't mind eating in a hole in the wall if the food is great. Thanks in advance for any suggestions

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  1. Don't know how many you are but this coming weekend will see Portland jammed with people with campers weekend and the Yarmouth Clam Festival. Reservations will be tough to come by though you can usually get seats at a bar. Fore Street takes walk ins and will get you in the Old Port where you can hit Rack and Roll now owned and technically part of the Old Port Tavern to shoot some pool. Lots of music always in town. Gingo Blue , next to Walter's (very good food) will have jazz/blues with no cover. The most laid back music venue is probably Blue on Congress St. It can get too laid back but will remind you of 1960's Greenwich Village where you might feel you should snap your fingers instead of clapping your hands. That should get you started. Just remember, it will be one of the busiest weekends of the year.

    1. as of July 15,2012
      We tried Fore Street on its strong reputation and were quite disappointed. Oysters were salty, the corn/cauliflower soup was unpleasantly peppery. The hangar steak was charred on the outside but raw inside due to it being cooked,as are all the steaks, not on a coals grill but high flames. The waitress seemed not interested in passing back info to the kitchen, just explaining things like ,"we don't put salt in the oysters."
      the one positive note was the maitre d's concern about our experience nicelly punctuated by a small box of chocoates.
      Clearly Fore is living on its old reputation,tho probably worth watching.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Mart

        I had wanting to eat at Fore Street for years, and was so excited finally to be there. I loved the look of the place, with the kitchen bustle all revealed. The menu was extraordinary, and it was hard to make a choice Bread was outstanding. But then, things went a little downhill. There were 3 of us, each ordering an appetizer and an entree, and we had 3 1/2 problems with the food.. Too many for a restaurant with this much buzz- it may actually be hype at this point.

        1. re: Mart

          Raw oysters? I can't believe they actually added salt to raw oysters....the ocean does that job for them!

          1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

            It sounds like the waitress said they DON'T add salt to the oysters, which I believe - what restaurant in their right mind would add salt? If the oysters were too salty for you, I wonder if it was just a very briny variety (which wouldn't really be the restaurant's fault)? Some are definitely intrinsically saltier than others.

            And I personally think that "charred on the outside and almost raw on the inside" is the right way to cook most steaks. It sounds to me (based on very little info, of course) like the food didn't appeal to your specific taste, but I'm not sure it sounds like that was due to errors on the restaurant's part per se. Maybe it was just a poor fit for your party?

            1. re: monopod

              I think that was my point, salty oysters wouldn't be the restaurants fault...

        2. It'll be busy in Portland this weekend and I would skip the tourist juggernaut that is Fore Street/Street and Co., but still has tables at a few notable places like bresca, my favorite Portland restaurant; as well as other reliable places like Local 188, Sonny's, Zapoteca, and Grace. Other great nonreservation places are Pai Men Miyake and Boda Thai, as well as our new oyster bar Eventide are good bets. LFK is also a good bar/food spot.

          Not sure what your age/demographic/musical interests/point of origin are but if you're more rock and roll Geno's is a good place for after dinner for some pool and a PBR. If you're familiar with the Boston area it's kind of like a smaller Middle East (but with a bit more leather, and without the falafel). If you're looking to see what's going on musically on Saturday you can check out listings in the Portland edition of The Phoenix or The Bollard, a small local paper with listings.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sultanaboudreau

            Thanks to all for the suggestions so far. I will be in Portland alone, so I will be able to squeeze in at the bar if necessary. My musical tastes are wide ranging, so I am glad there have been a couple of different suggestions. It will be the last evening of a two week trip to Maine, spent mostly in the woods of the interipr of the state, so a little hustle and bustle might be a nice change of pace. Thanks to all for the thoughtful responses so far, and by all means, keep 'em coming if you have more.

          2. Just had a wonderful meal at Grace this week. Wonderful house made Charcuterie selections and condiments (pickles), Oysters and small plates. DC's enjoyed Rabbit, Chicken, Hanger Steak and I had a lovely unusual Cod prep. Desserts were amazing as well. They make a fine cocktail there and the wine list is well rounded if a bit on the high end for prices. Beautiful interior space also.