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Jul 6, 2013 07:03 PM

Report -- 3.5 days in Portland

Just returned from Portland and had some unbelievable food. Many of the ideas I got from this board, so thought I'd provide a report.

Lunches --

Fisherman's Grill -- Little hole-in-the-wall but biggest and best lobster roll of the trip. And other folks were eating beautiful plates of fried clams/shrimp and a huge haddock sandwich for $8.95. Definitely worth checking out.

Lobster Shack at Two Lights -- Pretty much as reported on this site. Scenery can't be beat but food certainly can be. Lobster was overcooked and slightly off. Fried clams were fine but had me pining to be back at FG.

Portland Lobster Company -- Pleasant surprise. Was expecting total tourist trap but food and vibe turned out to be exactly what we wanted. Lobster tasted fresh and perfectly cooked. And when my wife found that one of her claws had lost its meat, they gave her a new one gratis. Plus, dockside dining is almost as nice as the view at LS@TL.

Hot Suppa -- Great, laid back vibe in arts district. Although it was lunchtime, I ordered corned beef from the breakfast menu. So good. They create a gorgeous crust on the flat top which gives way to some first-rate shredded corned beef underneath.

Dinners --

Miyake -- Very good four course menu with several choices for each course. Generally raw selections were bigger hits -- scallop carpaccio, sashimi, sushi.

Hugo's -- I thought they were still under construction, but when we walked by, they were accepting reservations. Turns out they'd been open only a couple of days. It was pricey, but worth every penny. Some restaurants of this caliber sacrifice taste for creativity/cleverness. I never got that sense at Hugo's. Every course -- and there were 10 of them between my wife and I plus a few extras -- was delicious as well as interesting. Hard to pick highlights, but loved the asparagus custard (forgot the Japanese name), the udon noodle salad, and the halibut.

Emilitsa's -- I've eaten a lot of high-end Greek food, and this is some of the best I've had anywhere. Started with a perfect tomato, onion and feta salad. Then I had some unbelievably delicious lamb ribs and my wife had a perfectly cooked duck breast.

In between all those meals, I managed to get some Duck Fat fries to walk around with as well as a vanilla soft-serve cone over at Red's Dairy Freeze.

I know I missed a lot -- eg, no whoopie pies -- but made a pretty good dent. Can't wait to get back. I live in DC and am jealous of those of you lucky enough to have such terrific places in your backyard.

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  1. Thanks for the great report! Glad to hear Hugo's didn't miss a beat during the renovation and the new owner at Fisherman's Grill didn't change a thing. Also glad you did Emilitsa as it's often overlooked. Lobster Shack at Two Lights - if you want just as good a view (maybe better) with a waaaay better lobster roll go to the Lobster roll food truck at Fort Williams (Portland Head Lighthouse).

    1 Reply
    1. re: bobbert

      My DH and I tried to go to Eventide on Saturday night, but it was packed so we tried Hugo's - we were fortunate that they gave us their two "bar seats" not designated for dining and took pity on us and served us dinner. It was truly an experience unlike any other - Wonderful staff, great drinks and the food was just perfect. Words can't do it justice. Place was full, but didn't seem crowded.

    2. Thanks for the great report. I've read that Portland is one of America's foodiest towns but I'm surprised when someone from a big city gives it high marks.

      1 Reply
      1. re: dfrostnh

        dfrost -- many of us Portland fans are from "the big city." 8<D

        Even the bagels are as good or better than you can get in many much larger cities.

      2. Thanks for the report.

        The Japanese custard you are referring to is probably chawanmushi.

        1. Thanks for writing about your trip. Love Hot Suppa for breakfast but never tried lunch or dinner there. Guess I have to.

          Been telling people that Portland Lobster Company is underrated as far as food goes. With their awesome location on the water, they really could get away with worse food like so many of the waterside commercial street eateries. Great workers, perfect setting, and the food is solid for that level.

          And yeah you goofed with no whoopie pies from Two Fats Cats. Reason enough to plan another trip back.

          7 Replies
          1. re: grittys457

            Yes re. Two Fat Cats!
            I still don't know about the food at Portland Lobster Company. I guess they can steam a fresh lobster as well as anyone - the price of that lobster is what always turned me off, especially when it was selling for $2.99lb retail in supermarkets. I've never thought anything else on the menu was particularly good or bad. So why do I stop by at least once a week? It's got a great vibe with live music and a pretty good beer selection. As the OP states, right on the water, it's hard to beat. I also like that it's one of those places where the locals and the tourists hang together in a fairly balanced 50/50 mix. I really enjoy the place, just think there are more reasonable places to eat.

            1. re: grittys457

              The whoopie pie filling at Two Fat Cats puts them way above the average whoppie pie. I'm trying to convince DH we need a Portland visit. He hasn't had the french fries at Duckfat either. Fortunately for us it's an easy day trip.

              1. re: dfrostnh

                When any chowhound goes to Duckfat it should be a criminal offense not to walk the half-block to Micucci's for a Sicilian Slab! In fact, Micucci's should be the first stop. Assuming the recent ouster of the pizza baker hasn't destroyed things (and early reports are that it has not), the Micucci Slab is a truly unique item.

                1. re: Bob W

                  I'll 2nd this. I'm not a local, but always stop in at Micucci's for some pizza. Their other baked goods are rather good as well. Besides that, it's a great Italian grocery store.

                  1. re: UnConundrum

                    Just heard from some very chowish friends of mine (one was an early Chowhounder who got banned by Jim Leff years ago LOL) who hit Miccuci's today that the Slabs are as good as ever. Phew!

                2. re: dfrostnh

                  Gonna say this again like I mentioned a few months back. I think Nosh has the best french fries in the city and I honestly don't think Duckfat is that close. Bacon dusted french fries at Nosh really aren't in the business of messing around. Duckfat's are really good, but I think the hype runs a wee bit too deep with that place. In fact, Nosh pretty much beats it in all areas.

                  And good point bobbert about portland lobster feeling like a 50/50 mix of locals and tourists. That place and now In'finiti are the only two waterside commercial street eateries I hit up. The gastropub going into the Pierce Atwood building could be very promising though...

                  "CBRE-The Boulos Co. announced this week that King's Head LLC has a lease for a 2,250-square-foot gastro-pub serving high-quality beer and food. King's Head currently operate pubs in Stowe, Vt., and Athens, Ga., and plans to open its Portland restaurant in September, according to CBRE.

                  When contacted Wednesday, Justin O'Connor, a partner in King's Head, said that, for marketing purposes, he is not granting interviews until the pub is ready to open."

                  1. re: grittys457

                    Another gastropub on the water? Where do all the customers come from? Add in the new Boone's place next to the new Porthole which is getting real close to opening and you have quite a few more waterfront seats in town.
                    You know I love Nosh almost as much as you but I still think it's tough to compare it with Duckfat and not because one is really any better or worse. Yes, Nosh's fries are great (I've really taken to the salt and pepper vs. the bacon dusted) but my last batch was actually very greasy. I've had over salted fries at the over hyped Duckfat as well. I just rarely chose one over the other because I think of them as two different genre's. Burger (better yet, Reuben), fries and beer - especially beer - then definitely Nosh. Soup, panini, fries and a homemade soda (or milk shake) - Duckfat.