Having struggled through a cold rainy Saturday with the kids, I was dying to get out of the condo. So, as a reward for good behavior we strolled over to Portland's floating landmark, DiMillo's. In recent years I have been sharply critical of DiMillo's for as "just another Sysco establishment", but now its time to give them their due.
First, its important to accept DiMillo's for what it is, the Hilltop Steakhouse of seafood.
We arrived Saturday night, a little moist and were whisked upstairs, where I strongly suspect they usher all families with children in tow. We sat among a mix of other families with well behaved children, older couples dressed up AND dressed down for a night out, and a couple dressed to the nines for what appeared to be a VERY special night out
Our service was prompt and friendly. My cocktail was well prepared. The kids got the requisite chicken nuggets and fries, which I am quite sure were poured out of a bag marked "Sysco", but they were tender and tasty and appreciated by the kids. I got an appetizer of crab cakes, which - while something of a blue collar preparation - were moist and packed with crab meat. There was a zesty sauce (could have been more zesty for me, but I keep in mind the audience) AND they get very, very high marks on presentation. The placement of the cakes, the sauce and medley of shaved vegetables was reminiscent of a Dana Street establishment; a nice touch that did not go unnoticed.
I got a bowl of haddock chowder as my "main course", having been on something of a chowder bender for the past three months. This was simply superb. The broth had set up nicely, and was a legitimate broth, not congealed paste. There was more fish in this chowder than I have had at J's, the Sea Grill, or Scales and it really hit the spot on a rainy Saturday night.
The service throughout was friendly. The people surrounding us were enjoying everything from boiled lobster to fried scallops and stuffed lobster, and everyone was having fun. It was a room filled with laughter on a Saturday night.
Our tab included two cocktails, an order of crabcakes, a bowl of chowder, two orders of chicken and a couple of pops. It totaled $42. How do you beat that for a special treat night out with the kids?
As we left, we got pleasant smiling goodbyes from our waitress, and three different hosts...I have it say it was a tightly run ship on a stormy night, and for that I get off my haughty taughty stool of high brow dining and tip my hat to them.