Portland Day Trip - Donuts and Fish
Our fishmonger is on vacation until April, and our fish supply was low - so the answer was clearly to take a road trip. Ran up to Portland (3-1/2 hour drive with no traffic) - there was probably a little cabin fever at work, too,.
First stop: Holy Donut. I'd ordered and paid for a dozen online, but showed up a little earlier than the chosen pick-up time. Not to worry - they were extremely accommodating about putting my order together and getting us on our way, even though I offered to come back later. The donuts are irregularly shaped and imaginative in their flavors. So far, my favorite is the chocolate coconut, but I haven't sampled everything yet. These are donuts where you know you've eaten a donut - unlike Krispy Kremes, where you could eat a whole box and still be hungry. (Not that I have, but I've heard....) Loooove Holy Donut, worth the trip for them alone.
Next stop: Harbor Fish Market. Lobsters, steamers, amazing scallops, whole red snappers, sole on sale - the fish is super fresh, and the people are helpful and knowledgeable. It gets busy, but everyone gets what they came for and goes on their way. I would have loved to picked up some oysters, but we already had steamers and sushi-grade tuna. So, maybe next time. Great place, will be back, whether it's on our next trip farther up the coast or just another random visit. Note: Picked up the lobsters at about 12:30, it's over 7 hours later, and they're thumping around in the sink like we just pulled them into the boat. Fresh, fresh, fresh bugs - yum!
Then, lunch at Miyake. We don't have a lot of good sushi in my neck of the woods (CT), so this was a real treat. Even the miso soup was a revelation, and now I know how it should/can taste. The miso soup I've had around home is pretty watery with some tofu in it - Miyake's broth was rich and so flavorful. Hub and I got the Tei Shoku - a starter and a main. I had tuna tartare, the hub had the marinated salmon. Both were excellent. Then I got the Chirashi, an assortment of sashimi -- very tasty, ultra-fresh fish, with some interesting items like monkfish liver pate. Just freakin' delicious, and a welcome change from the usual tuna, salmon, etc. we get at sushi places at home (though the plate contained salmon and tuna, which tasted phenomenal). The hub got a spicy tuna roll unlike any spicy tuna roll he'd had before. Again, the freshness was amazing, and the flavor combinations - tuna, yellowtail, avocado, plum paste, almonds and a spicy mayo - showed off all the elements to an advantage. Service was excellent, helpful but not helicoptery.
Great, great day, and ten hours round trip. Thank you, Portland!
Very impressive road trip, I bow down before you.
I've been known to visit other fish places in town but I always seem to find myself returning to Harbor Fish. If it's available, they seem to have it.
There's a lot of sushi in town and then there's Miyake. A bit pricier than the others but you do get what you pay for and compared to comparable places in Boston and New York (I will argue that Miyake can at least hang in the top rung of these) it's a bargain, especially the lunch Tei Shoku.
bobbert, would you recommend any other local fish purveyors? I really liked Harbor Fish, but always like to look around, too. I was impressed that Harbor Fish had some whole fish (snapper, flounder, some others) sitting out so you can inspect them and choose what you want. That is, they have nothing to hide because their fish is darn fresh.
Miyake was amazing (an overused word, but it applies). Definitely worth the price - and $19 for a three-course lunch is a very fair deal, IMO. Everything on the Miyake menu looked enticing, though. Duckfat was also under consideration, so maybe next time around we'll get there and try the heart attack special.
Portland is such a great food town in terms of both variety and quality. We will have to find reasons to go to or through it more often.
I usually let convenience dictate my fish purveyor de jour... for the most part. Harbor Fish would be my first choice but I like Browne Trading (just a few blocks down Commercial St) especially if I want something different (great smoked fish selection) or want to also grab some wine. They supply many restaurants in New England and New York - good stuff. Well worth a visit.
Closer to my home and also on Commercial St (by the bridge) is Free Range Fish and Lobster. They don't have the selection of Harbor Fish but they add some grocery items and they will steam lobsters for you at no charge which is great when we want to do lobster rolls without destroying the kitchen.
Another good choice when I'm in the neighborhood is Rosemont Market on Brighton Ave. Fish is a very small part of what they have but it's fresh and it's a great market for everything you need.
We stopped at Holy Donut when we were in Portland for a weekend getaway. The donuts were OK. They were really more dense than I prefer. The flavors were interesting and they tasted good, but they were so big and dense I felt like I was eating a huge heavy dessert. I really miss the donuts my gramma used to make, and I can't seem to find donuts like them much of anywhere these days. Chain donuts are just way too fluffy (she did fried cake donuts, not yeast) and I suppose I should figure out what she did and reproduce it myself. I wonder if she remembers her recipe...