Fore Street Grill, Portland, Maine

We finally made it to Portland for dinner and went to Fore Street. We had a 6 pm reservation and got there a bit early. They open at 5:30. This experience was at once wonderful and not so good. Here’s why.

When we arrived we were told our table wasn’t ready yet and we needed to wait in the bar. It was not the warmest greeting we ever got, no smile, no welcome. We soon found that everyone was pretty much sent to the bar to wait for the magic table. I could not see a reason for this as they open at 5:30 and I’m sure staff was setting up well before then. There is a main room (which is where I would have preferred to be) and a little side room. After about 10 minutes or so we were told our table was ready and we were shown to a table in the little back room and the table was next to the service station with a wonderful view of the parking lot. I am not usually one to hold back when I don’t like my table, but by this time I was intimidated. It felt like they felt they were doing us a favor by letting us eat there. The server was a bit friendlier, but not much. She did smile once in a while. But the other server in the room liked to put the dishes down on the serving station with as loud a bang as he possibly could. So we were not happy and wondering if we had made a big mistake. Well……… the food is outstanding!
The menu is divided into many sections and really does need some explaining. But there was no “have your dined with use before? Let me explain the menu.” We were on our own. All foods are either wood grilled, turnspit roasted or pan seared. DH started with the wood grilled moulard foie gras with ramps, fiddleheads, spaetzle with a maple allium reduction. It was KILLER. And yes, the foie had grill marks – how the heck??? The ramps were so good in that maple sauce. I did not have an appetizer. For mains, DH went with the wood grilled hangar steak with roasted shitake and cipollini with horseradish jus. It was good, but mine was way better. I went for the turnspit roasted marinated half chicken in bourbon honey brine with duck fat sourdough bread (be still my heart), shallot and wilted greens. The chicken was smoky and succulent, but that sourdough bread, fried and soaked with duck fat, was one of the best bites of food I’ve had. I opted for dessert and got the dark chocolate torte with chocolate cookie crumble and chocolate caramel sauce but with vanilla ice cream rather than the white chocolate it was meant to be served with. Creamy, chocolaty, oh – heaven!

And I must tell you about my husband and my Abbot and Costello Who’s on First moment. There is a section of the menu called “Chilled Meats and Offal.” My husband asked me – “what is Offal”(Pronounced Oh Faal). I said, “it’s offal” (pronounced awful) and he said “ oh, you don’t like it?” And then I cracked up and when I regained my composure explained about offal.

So, the food was great and we will go back next year. I will specify that I want to sit in the main room and will not be intimidated! This was not inexpensive. The meal cost about $260 with 2 drinks each. For that price, actually for any price, I expect to be treated like a guest.


Had an absolute cracker of a meal here back in 2012 on our last trip to New England. Except maybe the fiddleheads which we didnt really take to - but glad to have tried an in-season local delicacy.

Nice report. I could be missing something but your two main courses were chicken and hangar steak? How did the bill end up at 260 dollars? Again, I may have missed something in your review but it seems to not add up, unless you were drinking some epic wine or old scotch.

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Foe gras app was $28.50, hanger was $36, chicken was $28, dessert was $11 plus a margarita and 3 glasses of wine and tip.

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What a thoughtful report @winecountrygirl ! Funny, what you experienced with their service is one of the reasons we have not been return visitors to Fore Street. I want to love Fore Street—the food!—but I just can’t.

I don’t know if you are a seafood person, but if so, you might like Scales in Portland which is owned by the same restaurant group. We had an amazing meal at Scales last fall with none of the attitude we had experienced at Fore Street in the past.

I’m trying to link to my review of Scales in my Portland post. Um, apparently I am not that skillful so here goes:

I loved every detail in this report. Thanks for the humorous and clear-eyed post!

I am not a seafood person! But thank you! But where are Gorgeous Gelato and Holy Donut?

We stay in Ogunquit and honestly, I prefer not to go to Portland for dinner and tend not to go much further than Kennebunkport. But we have gone for lunch - Duckfat (meh) and Central Provisions, which we love. It is interesting to know that you felt the same way we did about Fore Street.

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Thanks so much, bear!

Loved the vibe of the place. And the fries. But that was it.

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Gorgeous Gelato is not far from Central Provisions:

Holy Donut has two locations in Portland and one in Scarborough. They close when they sell out, so I’d say to get there before noon. Some find HD doughnuts heavy because of the potato base, but doughnuts are a rare treat for us so that’s fine.

Very excited to be going back next week. I’ll update when we return.

3 posts were split to a new topic: Chaval [Portland, ME]

We’ll be in Portland tomorrow without a reservation. Any thoughts on the lines/waits at Fore Street & Central Provisions, and preferences between the 2?


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I haven’t done Fore Street in ages, and we almost did Central Provisions once but didn’t luck out. I have seen a line forming at Central Provisions before it opens for dinner, if that helps any.

Edited to add: Just checked their site and CP is still walk-in only.

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I have only been to Central Provisions for lunch, but the place is so small, I can’t imagine how the wait is at prime time.


Sounds great, but we will only be in Portland for one meal. We are staying in Ogunquit.


Looks great. I just made a backup res here. Thanks.

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Also I only now just realized that I misspelled the restaurant name, yikes. I should have typed Chaval. That is what happens when I type before coffee. So sorry.


We were in Maine last week and went back to Fore Street. I must say, the food was still great and my negatives from last time became positives.

This time, we got a fairly warm welcome and were shown the bar again, but we had a wonderful, friendly server in the bar.

This time, I requested the main room when we walked in . I also put that it was our anniversary (we celebrated it all week!) so we were shown to a fabulous table right neat the open kitchen/fire pit.

Our server was young, friendly and enthusiastic. And she asked if we had dined there before and explained the menu!!!

The food was exceptional. DH had the foie gras again, this time with kumquats. Again, outstanding with grill marks!!! For main he had a rib eye that was perfectly seared, and I had the chicken again because I had been dreaming of the duck fat soaked croutons. I was not as happy with the chicken this year - I would have liked the skin to be darker, but it was succulent, for sure! For dessert we shared a chocolate torte with coffee ice cream. That creamy ice cream was a perfect combination with the rich chocolate torte. As a side note, the dessert took a bit longer to arrive than the server would have liked, so she took the price off the bill!

I can’t wait till next year to go back!


Happy Anniversary @winecountrygirl! Thrilled to hear that you enjoyed a wonderful experience at Fore Street.

Thank you for sharing your report with us as a bonus.