Just finished a trip to Portland and wanted to make a report about where we ate:
- Eventide Oyster Company - The brown butter lobster roll was a religious experience. The oysters were also fantastic - my favorites were the ones from Elder Cove and John's Point. We also had the Dashi Chowder and the Scallop Crudo, both of which were good but not great. I'd try the red curry seafood stew next time - someone near us got it and it looked wonderful. We went here on our first night and actually went back on our last because I needed another one of those amazing lobster rolls. They had a wait both times we went, but nothing too bad - probably 20 minutes each time.
- Scratch Bakery (South Portland) - The line system for the bagels was very confusing the first day, though they are opening a new production location so hopefully that will decrease the need for crazy lines. The bagels were worth lining up for, though. The other baked goods were also pretty good, though they were largely on the simple side (cookies, muffins, etc.). I was more impressed with the selection at Standard Baking Co. We also had a delicious sandwich and salad here - definitely a great place to check out if you're in South Portland.
- 158 Picket Street Cafe (South Portland) - Had a bagel sandwich and a delicious iced coffee. The bagels aren't as good as Scratch, but still pretty good. Not worth a detour, but a great stop if you're in the area.
- Street & Co - We had the Lobster Diavolo, which was totally insane. It's $57 and is supposed to serve two, but the two of us had AT LEAST a pound of food left, even after stuffing ourselves. I think it could easily serve 3, if not 4 people. It has a whole lobster, at least a pound of other seafood (mussels, clams, squid, octopus), and probably a pound of pasta. Super garlicky and very delicious. The lobster comes just split in half, so don't order this if you're not ready to get your hands dirty. We went on Friday night around 8 and had to wait about 45 minutes.
- Bite Into Maine - Lobster rolls in Fort Williams Park (by the Portland Head Light). I had read in several places that this was one of the better lobster rolls in the Portland area. I had a Maine style one (with mayo and chives). The quality of the lobster meat and the bun were good, but it did not seem like very much lobster for $17. Looking at Google images and comparing to a picture I snapped, it looks like they were very skimpy compared to normal, which is pretty disappointing. It was a holiday weekend and the lines were relentless, which may have been part of it. No idea how they keep enough food to feed the crowds in that tiny truck.
- Fore Street - Made a reservation here way in advance. Was a delicious meal but probably the one I feel least enthusiastic about in comparison to other dinners we had. The service was notably excellent. We had the mussels, which I had heard great things about, but was a little underwhelmed by. The quality of the mussels themselves were very high, and I liked the touch of smokiness from the wood oven, but otherwise the flavor was a bit boring. We also had the bluefish, which was excellent, and the halibut, which was well cooked but pretty boring - the accompaniments were grits and mushrooms, but the whole thing had very little flavor somehow. We may have just ordered poorly, but overall I'm not sure I'd go back there.
- Central Provisions - Best meal of the trip. Loved everything we had - the spicy beef salad, burrata with strawberry salad and crispy pork, the smoked carrots with goat cheese, the seabass with lobster miso, and the hiramasa crudo. Inventive and very delicious. We were sitting at the bar next to where the chef was putting final touches on dishes, and I would have ordered nearly everything on the menu if we had the capacity - everything looked excellent. Would love to try the suckling pig and the eggplant crostata next time. Service was quite good as well. The small plates seemed pretty sizeable compared to places we've been in DC.
- Slab - Had a hand slab and a delicious beer. Extremely filling. The crust is awesome. Slabs are half price during happy hour (4-6). Not on the same level as some of these other places, but definitely very delicious.
- Standard Baking - Went after breakfast for a coffee and couldn't resist getting a croissant, which was perfect. Everything looked wonderful - I was much more tempted by things here than at Scratch. Would definitely go back.
Also wanted to shout out the Deering Park farmers market, which had gorgeous produce and cheeses and such. Not much in the way of prepared food - we were looking for breakfast, so we were a bit disappointed, but a huge market with great selection otherwise. One vendor had 24 varieties (!!!) of cherry tomatoes.