Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thoughts on Portland, ME

At present there’s really only one place to stay, the Hilton Garden Inn Portland Downtown Waterfront. We got a AAA Rate of a room for $279. Exactly one year prior, the same room was $189. Look for specials and perhaps ask about a suite.

There is still some stuff we haven’t tried and of course the scene is changing fast enough you should take a recent look. However, a few things make my “can’t miss” list.

Fore Street: This place was one of the early players in the food scene here and remains, in my opinion, absolutely first rate. Call and ask specifically to be seated at one of the tables in the kitchen. You want to be in the middle of the action. If you don’t get the mussels as a starter, you’re a war criminal. They do wonderful seafood and game. There’s also always a very classically German pork loin that will hit the spot if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing. Their servers should be very well educated so work with them to get the good stuff. You won’t go wrong.

Hugo's Restaurant: If there’s a better restaurant in America that you can call up and get reservations for, I double dog dare you to point it out. This place is stellar. Like Thomas Keller opened a corner restaurant. Get the tasting menu and drive on. Ask for seconds of the perfect mini biscuits before the first batch hits the table. The chef (Rob Evans) may be running the kitchen, but it’s Nancy Pugh’s place. Do what she says. Tell her you’re from DC and the guy who saved the place from burning down in June (mention the fire in the bathroom) sends his regards. If there’s anything on the menu with pork belly or tongue, get it.

Two Lights Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth: When you envision a cliché image of the New England coast, this is the place you’re thinking of. You’d make fun of me if I tried to describe it. Just get in a car and go. Get the lobster rolls, the fried clams and the fried scallops, and then whatever else looks good. If you get there after about 10:45am you’re gonna be waiting. But the line moves fast.

Five Fifty-five: A little more “fine dinning” than Fore Street perhaps but still very approachable. Lovely food. Nice service. The truffle mac’n cheese is cliché but worth it. The carpaccio was wonderful. Again, work with the servers.

Standard Baking Company: This place shares a parking lot with the hotel. I’d move to Maine if I could live within walking distance of this place. The croissants rock. The sticky buns are criminally good. The bread is a reason to bring an empty suitcase. Good coffee for the mornings too. I honestly tend to get a coffee, a pasty, and then a mini baguette just to gnaw on plain. The people are serious and the stuff is wonderful.

Duckfat: Just down the block from Hugo’s and on the other side of the street is their casual sandwich place. Get the frites fried in duckfat and whatever else looks good. Whatever justifies another order of the fries. While not a “can’t miss” it kicks butt.

Places I’ve heard nice things about but haven’t gotten to yet include: Caiolas; D B Street & Co (AKA: “Street & Co”); Local 188; Scratch Bakery (apparently good bagels); Two Fat Cats bakery (purportedly has great chocolate cupcakes and whoppie pies)


Hilton Garden Inn Portland Downtown Waterfront
65 Commercial Street
Portland, Maine, 04101

Fore Street
288 Fore Street
Portland, Maine

Hugo's Restaurant
88 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101

Two Lights Lobster Shack
225 Two Lights Rd
Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107

Standard Baking Company
75 Commercial St.
Portland, ME 04101

Five Fifty-five
555 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101

43 Middle Street
Portland, ME 04101

58 Pine Street
Portland, Maine 04102

D B Street & Co
33 Wharf St
Portland, ME 04101

Local 188
685 Congress St.
Portland, ME

Scratch Bakery
416 Preble St.
South Portland, ME 04106


Two Fat Cats
47 India Street
Portland, ME 04101

1 comment:

Pleen said...

YUM! I'm hungry just thinking about all the great food in Portland, ME! What a great city!