Portland, Maine

Forte_st
We had our map and off we went.  It is a really cute New England town although Portland is a city, to us it was just a fun place to explore for a few hours. 

Around the waterfront, local artisan stores, book shops, getting a vibe for the whole place.  We really stuck to one area which is the older section of Portland but it was fun.  The highlight was dinner.

We went to Fore Street for dinner.  The meal was fantastic.  The menu changes as the seasons and produce change which can be daily.  There is an old feeling to the place.  Lots of wood that has been aged.  A huge open kitchen where you can literally watch them call out the tickets and prepare the dishes and cook in the blazing hot wood oven.  A large windowed refrigerator is when you walk in to the right on the other side of the bar area where you can see all the fresh produce.  That alone makes a statement of what goes on at Fore Street.  The bar area is quite large with big comfy couches to hang out while you wait or eat off their bar menu.  The bar was already full to capacity at 5:15pm.  Wow. 

We went early because I had made a reservation for 2 at 6pm. Originally Emily and I were going to come up, check out Portland, have dinner, get up early and go get Josh.  Josh was raring to go home so I gave him the option of joining us.  He was psyched and I had problems changing the reservation so I figured we’d go early and see what they could do.  No problems.  So, it was 3 at 6pm.  We sat in the bar and hung out and deciphered the menu while we waited.

We weren’t that hungry so we began with 2 appetizers to start.  Wood Oven Tomato Tart.   Every dish is made in small iron saute pans of a variety of different sizes.  This dish had delicious tomatoes cut up in pieces with an herb goat cheese over the tomatoes and a large puff pastry on top.  This is what comes out of the back kitchen.  When it comes to the front, the guy working the wood oven put it in the oven and when it is ready, they flip it on to a place.  The buttery pastry falls flat and on the bottom and the tomatoes and cheese melt over the top and the juices flow over the entire plate.  It was quite delicious.  We also had the mussels.  This was a serious butter fest.  The chef at the wood oven puts a huge scoop of butter in an iron saute pan and then tosses in a few handful of mussels.  Shoves that into the large wood burning stove until the mussels open.  The butter is already made with lots of herbs throughout.  They serve the mussels piping hot.  Really tasty.  The big basket of bread was key to sopping up all the butter from both dishes.

The food is simply made using a variety of fresh herbs and spices.  The way most everything is cooked, there ends up being a lot of broth which keeps the dishes warm and flavorful.  Old New England charm with an old New England kitchen with a twist of the French way of cooking.  Quite unique. 

For dinner we each had our own.  Lucky for us we got to taste 3 different things.  Josh went with the steak.  He was having a hankering.  No surprises there after being at camp for four weeks.  A wood grilled steak, served rare over a bunch grilled sweet onions.  So good.  Emily went with the scallops which seems to be her thing these days.  Pan seared scallops that were huge served over a creamy broth of smoked onions, English peas and bacon.  The bacon was just enough to make the sauce smoky.  Also a winner.  I went with the whole fish.  An entire European sea bass roasted in the oven ( in a iron pot ) that had been stuffed with a herb and sorrel stuffing sitting in a bacon/shellfish butter broth and cooked in the wood burning oven.  Wow.

Dessert was essential.  We hemmed and hawed but ended up with 2.  Roasted pit fruits served in a crumble.  Sweet yet sour with plenty of flavor and a crumbly top of brown sugar and oats.  We also went with the chocolate caramel espresso cake.  A small cake that was so rich and moist and gooey in the center.  It was a race to see who got the last bite. 

We really enjoyed the restaurant.  If I had access to a private plane, I’d fly up there any night for a meal.  Fore Street is a real gem.