I was in Portland for a conference a couple of weeks ago and spent some time in restaurants both alone and with my family who joined me for the final days. Good eating! I was on foot and staying at the Holiday Inn by the Bay so this whole itinerary is walkable and within Old Port, although some of the distances might be a bit far for some walkers.
My first night I had dinner at the bar at 555. The macaroni and cheese was divine, loaded with truffles, and impossible to finish. I also had mussels with a wonderfully rich sauce- not really a broth, more buttery and tomato-laden. The only slight disappointment was a salad from the regular dining room menu with a slightly underpoached duck egg (white not fully cooked) and a rather fishy-tasting bagna cauda. I understand that it's an anchovy-based sauce, but this came across as fishy. The bartenders were friendly and kept up the appropriate level of interaction for someone dining alone. After the mac and cheese and the mussel sauce, I was much too full for dessert.
Coffee and a ham and cheese croissant from Coffee by Design's Congress St location the next morning was excellent.
For lunch, I purchased a variety of picnic items including sandwiches from Blue Goose. (I had hoped to get sandwiches from the enticing menu at Market Street Eats but was unaware that they really only deal in wraps. They had sliced sandwich bread available, but it was clear from the very friendly counter help that this was not their thing and for the prices I was hoping for a baguette or ciabatta or, well, you get the picture. Note to sandwich shop owners: the wrap thing is over. Please have good bread.)
Blue Goose's tuna with olives and capers was fantastic. Definitely get the ciabatta bread and worth the wait to have it griddled. These are the sandwiches great picnics are made of. Supplemented with fruit from the produce market next door to Crema on Commercial St.
Dinner was at Grace, but with some challenges from our end-- by this time, our 12 month old and 2.5 year old along with my husband had joined me. We were undaunted and had made an early reservation and made it clear to the staff that if they wanted to just throw all the food at us at once and as soon as possible, we would be out of their hair by the time the dinner rush started. They do have high chairs and our waiter brought crayons, so for a pretty upscale restaurant I would call them pretty kid-friendly. I'm sure the atmosphere has been described and oohed and aahed over before by others, so I'll just agree that it's possibly the most gorgeous place to eat dinner I've ever been. We shared an appetizer which escapes me right now but was tasty. My dinner was a skate wing schnitzel with a divine caper and lemon sauce. My husband had rabbit loin over barley, and we kept the kids happy with an absolutely delicious side of Mexican grilled corn on the cob. The waiter also obliged in bringing several baskets of tasty house-made anadama bread with molasses butter. No time for dessert as the little ones were growing restless. I would love to take longer to eat here and experience more of the menu at some point. On the recommendation of the hostess, we adjourned for gelato at Gelato Fiasco which was excellent. It's funny that there's another gelato parlor literally across the street, but the staff at Grace were in agreement that Gelato Fiasco was superior.
Breakfast the next morning was coffee and assorted muffins and pastries from Morning in Paris. All tasty, everyone happy.
Lunch was sort of a spur-of-the moment pick. We wandered into In'finiti not knowing if it would even be open. It's is the newish microdistillery on Commercial Street with an infinity symbol (sideways figure 8) and the words Fermentation and Distillation on the front of the building. I gathered their name only from the receipt and had tried to look them up to check hours but was unable to figure out how to do so. My advice would be to actually make a searchable name present somewhere on the exterior of the building. Sadly, as we were about to hit the road we did not sample their cocktails or drinks but we'll definitely be back for that. We both had burgers which were OUTSTANDING. Seriously, one of the best burgers I've ever eaten. Rivals Craigie's in Cambridge. Coarse-ground beef, generous portion of absolutely delicious crisp double-fried fries. They do not have high chairs, but were very accommodating and friendly to our little ones and we had the run of the deck. It was almost empty Sunday around noon, so perhaps the word has not spread or perhaps their lack of a visible name has deterred others from checking them out. There were a few other options on the small brunch menu such as yeasted waffles that I am very interested in trying on future visits.
Thanks for the good chow, Portland. See you soon.
Overall, a really