Trip report [Portland ME]

Spent this past weekend in Portland ME. We had a fantastic AirBnB in nearby Cumberland with a well-equipped kitchen but only ate in for breakfasts and 1 dinner.

Friday: Lunch (finally) at Bite into Maine at Portland Head Light. Spring onion loved the lighthouse and mom and dad onion loved their lobster rolls (CT-style for me, wasabi mayo for B) and Maine Root ginger beers on a perfect Maine day. Dinner was at the small but mighty Owl and Elm in Yarmouth. We feasted on watermelon feta salad, mac and cheese, white chicken chili, Buffalo cauliflower, and shrimp etoufee. Maine beer on tap and sparkling rose. We’d be here every week if it were in our 'hood.

Saturday: Lunch was a hasty decision - Flatbread Pizza, which we love, but we’ve had a million times and plus we have them in the Boston-area. Poor planning on our part…spring onion drove that decision as mom and dad lost track of time. Still, the pizza was a good as always. Dinner was pasta with tomatoes from the awesome Portland Farmers’ Market.

Sunday: Takeout lobster rolls from Day’s in Freeport for lunch. While they had more mayo than we generally prefer, the lobster was super-fresh and flat-out delicious. For $14 apiece, we were not complaining one bit. An early dinner was supposed to be at Honey Paw (we had a babysitter - yay!) but it was packed already at 5:30 pm so because we had Wilco tickets that night, we high-tailed it across the street to East Ender, which I knew had been taken over by the Small Axe folks. Had no problem getting 2 seats at the bar. B went with a burger and I had the housemade cavatelli with pesto and North Spore trumpet mushrooms (which I had regretted passing up at the farmers’ market). Outstanding. At Thompson’s Point (Bissell Brothers is nearby for you beer geeks) , there were several food trucks, the most interesting of which looked like Thai-Cambodian. It also had the longest line. We did not partake in any food. (The venue is fantastic for shows, by the way.)

Monday: Checked out of our beautiful house and had lunch at Allagash Brewery where the Tacos del Seoul truck was parked. Pretty awesome set-up at Allagash (this was our first visit). Plenty of space for spring onion to stretch his legs before the car ride home. The food was pretty good, too. B had a Seoul burrito (I think it was a bit heavy on the rice) and I had the Seoul bowl, both with bulgogi. On the sweet side, but tasty nonetheless.

We have learned to lower our expectations, food-wise, when traveling with spring onion so of course, many places were passed up and we barely spent any time in Portland proper, but all-in-all, another successful visit to our great neighbors up north. Next up is Iceland at the end of this month, which will present all sorts of challenges food-wise for all of us as neither B or I have any experience with Icelandic/Nordic food.

3 Likes

Wonderful report, digga. We also enjoyed happy hour at East Ender. Great house burger and side of brussels sprouts. And, they carried Peeper Ale, one of my favorite beers coming out of Maine. This spot always seems to get lost in the hype of nearby restos. Allagash has a fun tour as well.
Really curious about your upcoming Iceland trip, too.

Fun report, thanks for taking the time. Looking forward to the Iceland report!

A great report, thanks, We will have to put East Ender on the list for our next trip.

We spent a few days in Portland recently. I’d honestly consider living there, what a great city.

The highlight of the trip was Blyth & Burrows, a new cocktail lounge on Exchange Street. WOW! This place had only been open a short time but it is absolutely fantastic. The atmosphere both at the bar and cozy room downstairs is just perfect. They did an outstanding job with the build out. Cocktails were all top notch and expertly made. The Death Stalker (mezcal, cilantro & poblano infused tequila, yellow chartreuse, mango, chili, and lime) was a standout. The food looked fantastic as well. We already had dinner plans that we were looking forward to, but were tempted to blow them off and stay settled in at Blyth & Burrows. We’ll be back to this spot often.

The omakase at Miyake was very good, if not quite up to the standard of some of the outstanding spots in Boston. The food was generally inventive and we appreciated the incorporation of local ingredients. There were a few curious choices (melted gorgonzola over a tray of uni?), but an enjoyable meal overall.

We had time, so we did make the trip up to Red’s before heading home. It was worth it, always is in my book. The lobster roll there is better than anything available immediately in Portland IMO (fresh lobster doesn’t need brown butter). We got there right around 11:30a on a weekday and didn’t dig into our food until about 12:45p. However it was a beautiful day and we didn’t have kids with us, so we were prepared for that. Those lobster rolls are so fresh and delicious. Despite having about a pound of meat on each one, we spoiled ourselves and split 3 rolls between 2 of us. A bargain at $22 per.

We’ll be back, soon.

4 Likes

We are lucky enough to have family in the Portland area, which gives us reason to go up about once a month. It’s the only city in New England other than Boston that I could see myself living in. Looking forward to trying Blyth & Burrow’s. I’ve never had gorgonzola on uni, but I had fresh from the urchin uni when we went there, and it was amazing. The duck tataki was outstanding as well.

Yes, the duck was a highlight. It was perfectly cooked, fat rendered, crisp skin, juicy meat. Few places nail this. Even some of the higher end places in Boston don’t render the fat properly.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold