It doesn't get much better than Maine in the summer. And it's the perfect escape from the Washington humidity. I flew up this past Friday with a few girlfriends, and we slowly ate our way across this charming and unique town. We enjoyed a walk along the Eastern Promenade, the cool summer breeze, and the absolute best lobster rolls.
This place was everything I had hoped for and more. In fact, we ate here twice in less than 36 hours. It's a bright aqua filled restaurant with a casual vibe and a super friendly staff. There are a few outdoor tables which are perfect on a sunny day, but there's also a great bar lined with seats, and a counter along the window which is perfect for perching. On our second day at Eventide, Andrew Zimmern was filming a segment for the Travel Channel. Needless to say, Eventide is getting the recognition it deserves from the food community.
The menu focuses on raw seafood, but also has many small bites and rolls that make it a great place for sharing. We enjoyed local Oxbow beers and glasses of Tempranillo rosé while we worked our way through the menu. The best dish on the menu is lobster roll drizzled in brown butter. The "roll" is more similar to an asian style bun, and the chunks of lobster are generously doused in butter.
Every dish we ordered was better than the next: the tuna tartare, the fried chicken bun with buttermilk ranch, and the massive ice cream sandwich that is fit for two. The next time I am in Portland this will be the first place I go. Eventide Oyster is located at 86 Middle Street and can be found on Twitter @EventideOyster.
We stopped here for lunch on Saturday and filled up on delicious small plates. Our favorite was the toasted bread with farm egg and hazelnut butter. It was a perfect combination.
The roasted cauliflower with ras el hanout, chickpeas, and feta was warm and crispy, and the caramelized sheep's cheese with pears and balsamic was crepe-like and provided a touch of sweetness. On my next trip to Portland I will be sure to check out Central Provisions for brunch on Sunday-- the fried chicken sandwich with a fried egg on top is calling my name. Central Provisions is located at 414 Fore Street and can be found on Twitter @CtralProvisions.
Hugo's Restaurant is the fancier sibling to Eventide Oyster. In fact, they are directly next to each other as well as their third establishment, The Honey Paw. Owned by Andrew Taylor, Michael Wiley, and Arlin Smith, Hugo's offers a tasting menu experience across three curated columns: foraged & farmed, from the sea, and forest & field. You can choose any five courses from all three menus for $90, so as a trio dining at the restaurant we opted for one of everything, and instructed the waiter to "run the menu." Paired with a bottle of the Commanderie Peyrassol rosé, our meal was off to the races. Every dish was beautifully crafted and thoughtfully plated. The atmosphere inside of Hugo's is sophisticated yet rustic, and the restaurant provided a wonderful dining experience. Hugo's is located at 88 Middle Street and can be found on Twitter @HugosMaine.
We loved dining at Piccolo which is a tiny and charming Italian restaurant offering a limited menu. The cavatelli pasta with lamb neck ragu, eggplant, orange, and Pecorino was a hearty and filling meal. The appetizers including bruschetta with peekytoe crab and creamy straciatella were elegant and matched the simplicity of the restaurant. After dinner we went over to the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club for drinks as instructed by the owner of Piccolo. The bar offered craft cocktails in a lively environment on an otherwise sleepy night in Portland.
If you're looking for an awesome breakfast... look no further than Becky's Diner for an old fashioned dive. It was nothing short of perfect on a rainy morning. Corned beef hash, pancakes, french toast, eggs, potatoes, you name it. Standard Baking Co. is a great spot for coffee and baked goods while exploring Portland, and we liked The Speckled Ax on Congress Street for coffee in the morning before heading out for the day. We did not make it to Duckfat or Fore Street on this trip which were both highly recommended. Next time!