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Mar 8, 2013 05:01 PM

Portland ME HotSpots!

Where are the new top tickets in town? The best places to eat, Heading up in April, what are the best recommendations?

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  1. Just weathered this weekend's snowstorm to head north from NJ. Last night was our tenth or so visit to Fore Street Restaurant and despite its age (2004 James Beard Award to Sam Hayward) the place has not lost a step or dropped a notch. Fabulous wood roasted mussels smothered in a white wine, butter, garlic, parsley and ground almonds reduction that is sopped up with crusty fresh bread from their bakery is our go to starter. Every time we visit the mussels seem to get progressively fresher and plumper, this time the sea brine flavor was palpable. SO ordered the roast John Dory that was so bleeping good that it almost had me place a separate order for myself. I went with their wood grilled hangar steak that was absolutely delicious, mouth watering at medium rare, cooked perfectly with the ever so slightly mineral / liver flavor that is a signature trademark of that tender muscle. Sides of garlic mashed potatoes and roasted beets were perfect accompaniments. Great open kitchen ambience so huge buzz factor and warm, personable service without being effusive or intrusive. It seems rare to encounter a restaurant that continues to perform at high level over a span of a decade or more but Fore Street has met that mark.

    We are scheduled for our second trip to Eventide Oyster at noon and then a late dinner at Emilitsa's which truly impressed us during our initial visit last Fall. Will update our experiences on those outings.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ThanksVille

      The selection at Eventide Oyster Co. Is extensive, the oysters impeccably fresh even when venturing with varietals outside of Maine, accoutrements offer some wonderful flavor profiles and the service opening upon order was executed with practiced precision. Very nice range of beers available.

      Dinner at Emilitsa's proved an extraordinary pleasure. Food, service, ambiance were all excellent and convinced us they deserve to be on our top 5 destination restaurants in Portland.

      1. re: ThanksVille

        Nice choices for the weekend. It's difficult to pass up Fore Street as they're so consistently good. Glad you're an Emilitsa fan - I always think they and Back Bay Grill tend to get overlooked when we start talking best of Portland - they can definitely hang with any restaurant in town.

    2. Miyake

      Either the noodle restaurant or the sushi restaurant

      You could argue that Miyake/Maine has the best Uni/sea urchin in the world.

      1. For NEW top tickets in town, or new(ish) I'd have to say Eventide for fresh oysters, good cocktails and their smaller plates. I like grazing there and trying different items. The North Point wine bar is newly open - haven't heard how the food is but there's a good buzz about the place.
        Boda and Pai Men Miyake are no longer "new" (a couple of years) but they always get a good crowd and their menu's manage to stay fresh. LFK (our hipster place) is new and I hear they're starting to concentrate on their food a bit more. My one try - soon after opening - was just ok but i've heard some good things for lunch of late. May as well add Petite Jacqueline as it's right there as well.
        Nuvare Res STILL hot for beer and not a bad lunch.
        Duckfat still a great lunch.
        Schulte and Herr for German. BYOB. Small menu. Not trendy. Nice people.
        If you haven't been here for a couple of years, these places have been added and are all doing well.

        4 Replies
        1. re: bobbert

          This is a good list (as always)--
          The food at LFK has definitely improved since the opening, and the beer on tap selection is small but pretty spectacular (they had 2 Oxbow options when I was in last)--it's the best barfood in town at this point--(a really good burger, bacon cheddar potato salad with addictive pickled shallots, a proper yankee baked mac and cheese, lovely salads and cheese plates...) I wouldn't call it a "hipster" place tho (intentional ironic quotes); the plastic glasses quotient is pretty low--it's more the typical mix of bundled up, beer-geeky Portland locals this time of year. It's also a pretty chatty, friendly bar with great bartenders/servers.

          The food at Novare is serviceable, but I'd much rather eat elsewhere.

          I'd also add Sonny's, particularly when you sit at the bar, and Zapoteca as new-ish places I like.

          1. re: sultanaboudreau

            When I started typing, Zapoteca was on my mind but I forgot somewhere in there (middle age setting in). I know LFK dropped some serious cash in the kitchen so I guess they want to be a contender in the Portland food game. I have to get back in as I live nearby but tend to eat at their neighbors. Maybe it's the communal tables where I have to share with those independent minded 20's and 30's types wearing their vintage bowling shoes that make me think "hipster" but it's actually a pretty cool (hip) vibe:)

            1. re: sultanaboudreau

              LFK has some decent beer for sure. Looking forward to trying the food. Did you ask what LFK stands for btw?

              1. re: domain

                I got different answers depending on who I asked. I think the best was something like Longfellow Knights. They're on Longfellow Sq. rigbt across the street from the statue of, you guessed it, Longfellow.

          2. My wife and I are big fans of Hugo's, but since they were closed for renovations this past weekend, we decided to try something new and checked out Bar Lola. Excellent meal. It was Restaurant Week, but their prices seem fairly similar to RW prices anyway. The RW meal was a 5 course meal with choices for each course for $42 pp, plus $24 pp for a wine pairing. Their usual menu has a 7 course blind tasting for $44 pp.

            We both had the corn cake with cheddar pimento cheese for a first, Pasta w/tuna and potato leek soup for seconds, a fennel salad and a bibb salad for thirds. For the main entree we both had the braised beef with smoked mashed potatoes. I don't know how you smoke mashed potatoes, but these were great, and the color said to me that they just didn't dump some liquid smoke into them. For dessert I had the espresso caramel custard and the wife had the cheese plate. Excellent cocktails as well.