Eventide Oyster Bar/Portland, Maine
We've dined at just about every 'hot spot' in Portland over the last 15 years and were anxious to try Eventide after reading 'great' things about this restaurant, which is next door to Hugo's. I must admit that the oysters were exceptional..we started with a 1/2 dozen assortment and loved every one. After that, a light dinner for us: Lobster roll and clam chowder for me, and Ed had their 'special' mussel salad and then the Lobster Stew.
The lobster roll came out first....sorry Ed. I was startled to notice that the lobster was sitting in what looked like a raw doughy hot dog shaped roll.....I touched it and it was warm....took a bite and the bread tasted just as raw and uncooked as it looked...and the lobster in roll was just barely firm...a wee bit raw for me. Clam chowder arrived next...(still nothing for the husband)....the chowder was creamy and nicely flavored, there were clams and potatoes and then there were big pieces of what looked like undercooked sliced bacon ....could this be possible? Didn't eat the bacon....(I always fry bacon when making chowder, use the pan drippings to saute the onions and flavor the base...then put a bit of the fried bacon on top of the chowder before I serve it.....but at Eventide not one bit of crispness to that bacon...they probably just threw the slices into the pot for the 'boil'.....geeish, at least trim off all that unappealing fat for goodness sake!)
Ed finally got his mussel salad....he was unimpressed. Kind of boring. Lobster stew finally came out. It had the same base that was in my chowder but with a slightly red color (lobster......where?)...alas, the lobster stew had not one piece of lobster in it, let alone a potato or anything else one might think would be in a 'stew'. He mentioned it to the waitress who brought it back into the kitchen, then right back out explaining the chef makes the lobster stew without the actual pieces of lobster and he forgot to put some in before serving (oh, did he forget to cook the roll for lobster roll as well and the bacon in the chowder?) Anyway, the small handful of greasy looking lobster was now sitting in Ed's lobster stew, looking like it had been drenched in butter...perhaps that portion was suppose to go into the next 'butter coated' lobster roll, which is one of their lobster roll dressings.
So, it was not even about having dessert at this stage of the game. Yummy oysters....but please, Eventide...pay attention!!!!! Each time the kitchen door opened we saw 'men in black' shirts standing around....get to work in there!!!!
Sad to hear. I too loved my trip to Eventide -- Just a cool city place! However NOT the best place for a full dinner. The "bun" for the tiniest-lobster-roll-you've-ever-seen is an Asian-style one...dumpling or dim sum-like. We go there for oysters and a vodka cocktail before dinner reservations elsewhere. Oysters though, outstanding!!
Thoroughly enjoyed Saturday lunch at Eventide Oyster in Portland having arrived there in search of the great cookbook store, Rabelais, which used to occupy that space adjacent to Hugo's. Obviously we don't get into Portland more than once or twice a year so learning that the specialty bookshop is now located in Biddeford was a surprise and finding an Oyster bar in its place was surprise #2.
We were immediately impressed with the array of iced oysters visible on arrival including a substantial selection from Maine, New Brunswick and PEI options. While they had a number of west coast and midatlantic "imports" I have faith that shorter travel distances offers a better chance for fresher product so we ordered a mixed dozen (6 varieties) from the northern regions.
Eventide's oysters were impeccable quality, plumb, juicy, clean, refreshing and delicious; completely comparable to one of the few places that we visit and trust, namely the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station. Despite the price, we opted for another half dozen, this time all Pemaquids which had struck us as the freshest and most flavorful amongst our initial dozen. While we kept the 'accoutrements' simple with just lemon wedges and horseradish ice, the fact is after the first couple oysters we felt there was no need to gild or alter the lily in any manner.
After a morning of walking the city, we were hungry enough to consider just a little something more and given our enjoyment with their oysters, decided to share one of their fried oyster rolls. Great choice as this roll packed a wonderful contrast of flavors and textures including the crunch of the
Fried oyster, a bit of very ripe tomatoe, some hand crafted tartar sauce and a few razor thin slices of jalapeño that introduced a nice heat component. The roll was soft and warm which made it a bit difficult to clenanly cut it in half with a typical butter knife. We could have ordered a second but chose to stop at that point.
Our little lunch at Eventide was absolutely luscious. It was admittedly expensive but we probably would have spent that much and more on cookbooks from Rabelais so didn't quite break the bank.
While we were there, the place was probably 80% occupied and as we departed a new group was entering so clearly they are doing a reasonable weekend business (one big cruise ship and one smaller boat were docked for the day).
Just reading some of the critical posts about Eventide has me wondering if we just lucked out or if there is a level of inconsistency in other products. Nonetheless, based on our own experiences, we look forward to returning to Eventide on our next trip into Portland
Appears there were a couple of misses with your meal. I've been at least half a dozen times and although every bite has not been a home run, I haven't come close to eating anything that wasn't at least pretty good. I do tend to eat a certain way at Eventide. Always have oysters. They've always been excellent. I like some of the accoutrements better than others but never have I had so many to choose from. As I'm always enjoying one of their fine beer choices (sometimes a cocktail), I haven't tried their stews or chowder as I don't like soup with my beer. I have to agree that forgetting the lobster in your lobster stew is not good. I haven't tried the lobster roll and really haven't been too excited by the look of them. The bun appears to be similar to the one used with the fried oyster bun (I could eat those all day) which is a Japanese style steamed bun. If you're not expecting that type of bun it could easily be looked at as undercooked - might explain the bun issue. Hopefully some of the issues you had were a fluke (which, by the way, is very good). Anyway, I was just there the other day and everything was excellent (char, baked oyster, raw oysters, and of course, the fried oyster buns). Hopefully, next time will be better for you. If there's no next time it will make it easier for me to get a seat.
Thanks for your thoughts on Eventide. We'll try fluke if we wander past there again.
And yes, the Japanese style steamed bun, think is a bad choice for a lobster roll...visually very unappealing!!!!...tho, granted, probably better with lovely fried oysters sitting in it! Glad you had an excellent meal the other day! I know it takes new restaurants a while to get it together....too bad it wasn't on our night there!!!! I hope Eventide gets it together on a nightly basis....that would be a good thing!