Housemade Bagel Bites and Lox at Eventide in Portland, Maine
Eventide Oyster Co., the Old Port's hip raw bar that took over the Rabelais bookshop storefront last year, likes to toy with tradition and does it well. Lobster rolls come on housemade steamed buns with dressy fixin's; chowder is brothy, packs serious clam flavor, and arrives with an excellent biscuit; and the Lightly Cured Arctic Char is bagel and lox reimagined as a salad. A really good salad.
Oh, and those bagels are made in-house, which they then tear up and fry. If I audibly scoffed when our server explained this process, I owe the restaurant an apology. Frankly, the idea of making bagels exclusively for this purpose sounded as ironic as making brioche specifically to make bread pudding. (Isn't that what leftovers are for?) But once I started eating the dough's crisp, seed-covered crust and soft-yet-chewy interior, I was ready for an I-told-ya-so. Whatever trouble the kitchen goes to, it's worth it.
And of course, bagel and cured fish are perfect mates. Besides being beautifully fresh and marbled with fat, the char is cured just a little, so its texture is soft and almost creamy, more like sashimi than gravlax. Pickled onions, creme fraiche, and chives are just enough adornment, and nothing more.
I could eat 10 rounds of this. I'd also have to if I wanted to feel full. The portion size is dainty, especially for the double-digit price (it hovers between $9-$12).
Eventide Oyster Co.
About the author: Liz Bomze lives in Brookline, MA, and works as the Senior Features Editor for Cook's Illustrated Magazine. In her free time, she freelances regularly for the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, the Improper Bostonian, and Martha's Vineyard Magazine; practices bread-baking and canning; takes photos; reads; and watches baseball. Top 5 foods: fresh noodles, gravlax, sour cherry pie, burrata, ma po tofu.