Headed to Portland, Maine? Here's where to eat lobster rolls, fried clams, and more, according to James Beard award-winning Chef Rob Evans.
'PortlandME' on Serious Eats
I thought pie for breakfast might be only a midwest treat until I noticed a small sign at Two Fat Cats in Portland, Maine. Minutes later, I was parked at the teeny tiny bistro table they have crammed between the staircase and a speed rack, digging into a slice of sour cherry.
Though "chirashi" literally translates to "scattered," I always think of classic chirashi as the composed salad of sushi preparations: a bed of vinegared rice overlaid with fanned out fish fillets and tidy bunches of vegetables set just so. The chirashi at Pai Men Miyake is particularly nice and well portioned for the price.
Portland's original and newly revamped Chinese kitchen serves familiar Cantonese and dim sum dishes done up Maine-style.
A few weeks ago, the Small Axe Truck debuted its burger, the Smokestack Lightning, and proclaimed it the best burger around. Ordinarily, I'd say that's a bold statement to make, but in this case it might well be true.
Duckfat in Portland is a small sandwich shop with some incredible panini options, making it tough for someone flying solo for lunch. Given the restaurant's name, duck confit with napa cabbage slaw, cilantro, and spicy mayo tempted me, but ultimately I went for the Corned Beef Tongue Reuben Panino with marinated cabbage, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing. And no stop at Duckfat is complete without an order of the duckfat-fried fries.
Duck fat-fried fries and doughnut holes. Duck confit. Poutine with duck gravy and, if you want, a fried duck egg. Suffice it to say, Duckfat in Portland, Maine, has become a destination for all things anti-diet. That's not to say fried food is all the Old Port cafe offers, but it's what they take most seriously and what they've always done best. Lately, however, the menu's grown, attracting patrons looking for both guilty and (relatively) guiltless pleasures alike. I went in for the latter.
As far as coffee's concerned, until recently there's really only been one Portland, and it's on the West Coast. But Maine's getting in on the action, too, with the emergence of small, plucky specialty roasters like Tandem. We checked out a couple of Tandem's latest offerings to bring you the inside (coffee) scoop.
Frankly, the idea of making bagels from scratch just to tear up and fry sounded as ironic as making brioche specifically to make bread pudding. (Isn't that what leftovers are for?) But once I started eating the bagel's crisp, seed-covered crust and soft-yet-chewy interior, I was ready for an I-told-ya-so.
A few weeks ago, I overheard a colleague raving about the lobster rolls at Portland's gleaming new raw bar, Eventide Oyster Co. "They're so good," she said, "my husband usually gets two."
The other Portland has some pretty good coffee roasters coming up, too. On a recent trip to Maine, we enjoyed a sonnet-worthy cup at Bard Coffee, a small indie that's caffeinating the city's Old Port one handcrafted cup at a time.
This is it: tomato prime time, and I can't help but indulge. Every year I splurge on Sun Golds, snack on open-faced tomato sandwiches slathered with mayonnaise, confit pounds of plum tomatoes—and drip the sweet, ruby-tinted oil over just about everything. And I always make a reservation at Fore Street, because their tomato tart, a long-running seasonal special, is one of my all-time favorite tomato dishes.
You know those bleary mornings after drinking a little too much (OK, a lot too much) when your eyes refuse to focus the next morning? And your skull feels twice as big? Yeah, those are breakfast sandwich mornings. But they don't always have to be about medical necessity. We love them on just about any morning. Here are 10 places to find our favorite versions of the classic breakfast sandwich in Portland, Maine: on bagels, english muffins, plain white toast, and more.
Ask ten different seafood-loving locals in Portland, Maine, where to get the best lobster roll nearby, and you'll get ten different answers. Here are ten we love in and around Portland.
The original location that Miyake opened in Portland's west end in 2007 might have been considered a hole in the wall: It was small, kinda cramped, and (at the time) a ways off the beaten path of most of the city's gourmet eateries. Since then he's moved across town to a bigger, much swankier space, but the restaurant's main draw, the omakase deals, are as impressive—and as reasonably priced—as ever.
If Albert Einstein came back to life and found himself in Portland, Maine, he might enjoy sitting under a rainbow umbrella in Silly's backyard garden. "As far as we can discern, the universe is a very silly place," he once famously said. That quote inspired the name of this kitschy, chilled-out townhouse eatery. Inside there are pom-pom-covered light fixtures but the backyard is really where you should be on a bright day.
As the name suggests, this place is a Big Easy tribute plopped down on the outskirts of downtown Portland, Maine. No surprise, then, that they're pulling pints of Abita, but you'd never guess that this Turbodog shake is chocolate-free.
Even if you're a mayo person, I'll ask you to reconsider the next time lobster is involved. Butter is one of the world's great flavor-foods, whereas commercial mayo's charms, such as they are, are largely textural. Binders and slickeners have their place, but that place is not on something as proud as lobster, which tastes so good on its own—or with butter—that it doesn't need to get by on a texturality.
The most popular appetizer (and perhaps the most impressive dish on the menu) is a dish called Miang Kum Som-oh ($5). Translations vary, but they all suggest basically the same meaning: "leaf-wrapped tidbits," "food wrapped in leaves," "many things eaten in one bite," etc.
Founded in 2005, Mount Desert Island Ice Cream has expanded to three retail shops; two on Mount Desert Island proper in Bar Harbor, as well as a satellite branch in Portland's Old Port shopping district. Recently named one of Food & Wine Magazine's best ice cream shops in the US, Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream serves up traditional as well as exotic ice creams and sorbets--think Thai Chili, Mexican Chocolate and Banana Curry alongside Fleur de Sel Fudge and Coconut.