“THE WAY LIFE SHOULD BE” (2)

That’s the slogan of the state of Maine, which rests on a foundation of simplicity, peace, sky, sea, and pine trees. Miles and miles and MILES of pine trees!

Portland, its largest city, is something else, however. Located on a bustling harbor, its narrow streets climbing steeply up from the sea, it’s a very attractive place. It’s always reminded me of Seattle (on a smaller scale, of course). Far from being bucolic and serene, though, the harbor downtown is a really happening, funky, edgy place, crammed to bursting with restaurants of all prices and types and ethnicities. Lobster pounds? Of course! Burger joints, natch. But it’s also got two of the finest Japanese omakase restaurants on the East Coast, and teems with bistros from plain to mighty fancy.

There’s such an abundance of choice in Portland that it was really hard to decide where we’d dine on our one evening out. (This was before what turned out to be our late night adventure of not-so-much-serenity.) Finally, after much perusing of on-line menus and discussions on the forums of Chowhound, we settled on Fore Street, where you actually can’t check out the menu because it changes daily, going for what’s best of the local in the market. Our bus brought us to the harbor and off we went in search of dinner —

Fore Street-the-restaurant is tucked away on narrow Fore street, through a parking lot and up a flight of outdoor stairs above the bakery. (Don’t ask!) Its metal sign is so discreet it’s barely visible against the brick factory walls. Despite these obstacles, Portland chow mavens manage to keep it jumping. We scored a reservation by our willingness to eat unfashionably early, like 6 pm.

Roaring fires — just about everything is grilled there, from steaks and game to fish and pizzas —were matched by the roaring of an exuberant hungry crowd even at that early hour.

We were immediately caught up in the buzz, and warm welcome (thanks to Open Table and a responsive Fore Street crew). The Hub had his favorite, pork loin, rubbed and (of course!) grilled.

I had grilled quail. Starters included three kinds of oysters (delicious, not enough!) and an assortment of patés and terrines. Hub’s Rhone red was excellent, and my Riesling was one of the best I’ve ever had (and good Rieslings are not abundant outside Germany, I can tell you). If I were given to more than one glass of wine at dinner, that would have been the glass!

Dessert was a down home peach bourbon bread pudding with a scoop of vanilla.

Simply — the whole meal was a feast. Simple in one way, like Maine — straightforward food, brick walls, high factory windows, no fancy airs — it was actually a sophisticated meal straight out of Manhattan’s elite food scene. And it was fun — What more can you want from a restaurant?

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23 Responses to “THE WAY LIFE SHOULD BE” (2)

  1. a good choice I’d say, all around.

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  2. That dessert looks to die for. Good choices all around. Riesling.? Oh yeah 🙂

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  3. cocomino says:

    The buildings look so old and very nice.
    Of course, the food must have be very delicious.

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  4. Madhu says:

    The peach bourbon bread pudding looks and sounds divine 🙂

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  5. You really, Really need to have a warning on the top of your blog posts not to read if you are already a little hungry. The bread pudding looked so good!

    The town we live in was only started in 2008. There is such a beauty and peace in old buildings like those your picture contain. Our newer buildings don’t hold any of the charm the buildings with history display.

    Okay, now thanks to you, I have to go and see if I can find ingredients in my house to make bread pudding.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      If you have some peaches you can put some in —
      And a little bourbon for the grownup portion?
      And then you’ll have Fore Street’s bread pudding!

      Portland does have many really lovely old buildings. Although old doesn’t guarantee beauty —
      Where we live, in Northampton, and where we used to live, near Pittsfield, there are plenty of old downtown buildings, but alas, too many were ugly when they were new, and they still are. (Although a few are really fine.)

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  6. Wow, that bread pudding looks amazing! And I love the high wooden ceilings in that restaurant.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      The restaurant’s in an old brick building that was once some kind of factory, and it still has these wonderful huge small-paned windows.
      The bread pudding was great, but it doesn’t compare to the yummy-looking street food on your blog!

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  7. Cynthia says:

    I still remember the dinner I had with friends at Fore Street. You brought back wonderful memories. 😉

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  8. Rebekah says:

    Oh, that all looks so yummy, and I agree with all the others; great choices all around!

    Strangely enough, after all our trips to Maine, we’ve never been in to Portland! Once, we ended up in South Portland by mistake.

    Loved the pictures…

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      We were in South Portland too, in Cape Elizabeth to be exact. Where our friends live —
      Dunno if I’ll get to another Maine post, but photos from there are a lot more like your “alone on the beach in Ogunquit” trip —

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  9. 2e0mca says:

    Sounds a very nice meal… with good images of the food. I can see restauranters over here getting very agitated if I pulled out a camera to photo the dishes 😉 I wouldn’t be eating the bird recipes anyway as a fellow of the RSPB – don’t let me stop you 🙂

    I’m lucky – I have one of the best vegetarian Indian restaurants in North London just 500 yds from my door 🙂 But I still like the occasional fast food pizza!

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  10. I’m adding this to my “Things to Do Because Judith Said So” List. : )

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  11. eof737 says:

    I agree… the setting and the food are ideal for a relaxing day. 🙂

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