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Dec 18, 2012 06:44 PM

Differentiating restaurants in Portland, ME

Hi all,

We are headed to Portland for a quick getaway after Christmas. I've been there twice before (we live outside of Boston), and enjoyed the food very much; I remember specifically that we liked Fore Street and Duckfat, so we'll probably hit them up again.

I've been studying recommendations on this board and rest. menus, and it seems like there's a lot of overlap on menus from one place to the next: a scallop dish, a squash risotto. I understand that the farm-to-table thing limits the options on the menu, and I totally support it, but we eat that way at home a lot too. Also my hubs can't eat scallops.

I gather that Grace is good for drinks and nibbles if you sit upstairs...can anyone give me a "feel" for Salt Exchange vs. Grace, East Ender, Bresca? We will be casual and probably not on a schedule, so may not be able to make reservations well ahead, if that makes a difference.

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  1. You will not go to Bresca if you don't have a reservation--they have about 6 tables. It is worth it, though. I've never been to Salt Exchange or East Ender, and Grace is lovely but I agree it's better for drinks and apps than a full meal.

    Where I would send you, if you want something a little out of the ordinary, is Emilitsa. Outstanding, high-end Greek food (and not a scallop that I can recall.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: sciencediet

      Ooo, their menu looks good too. Thanks - I had not come across Emilitsa in my reading.

    2. These 4 places are about as different from each other as you can get. Bresca would probably have the best food and by far the best desserts. Tiny and reserved and as sciencediet points out, you'll need a reservation.
      For me, Grace is mostly about the bar although I've had some nice food there - mostly apps upstairs in the lounge area. Very big place and probably the most stunning restaurant in town.
      I've only done lunch an apps at the bar at Salt Exchange. All good. There are those who love the place and others who don't. Another nice bar scene.
      East Ender is probably the closest thing we have going that can be called gastro pub. Food can be really good. Like their burger a lot. Good fries but with Duckfat next door it's hard not to compare (Duckfat wins). Compared to the others, very casual. Upstairs is often overlooked by people peeking in the window and seeing the downstairs full.
      I have to agree with sciencediet re. Emilitsa. Definitely in the top tier of Portland's restaurants and unique in its offerings. One of my favorites.

      3 Replies
      1. re: bobbert

        Thanks for your input! Clearly, we can't go "wrong" with any of these places. I didn't remember that East Ender was next to Duckfat.

        I'll present the options to hubby and let him pick. He's having a medical procedure soon that in the aftermath, he won't be able to dine out in restos for ~ a year, so this trip is all about his "last hurrah" with public dining.

        Thanks again for your suggestions!

        1. re: bobbert

          oooo, jut found that there is a Polish rest in Portland to. Anyone tried it? We have a good place in Boston but if hubby wants peirogies iy might be fun to try that place, too.

          1. re: gimlis1mum

            I'm assuming Bogusha's. Haven't been for quite awhile. It's very good. Authentic home made Polish food. More of a lunch place or take home as she closes early and just about as inconvenient a location as you can find in Portland especially during rush hour.