It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I went to the White House and heard about Michelle’s Obama’s Lets Move Initiative to help fight childhood obesity and raise healthier American children.
The Porthole Restaurant—the poster child of Portland’s gritty working waterfront—flourishes amidst the rough and tumble epicenter of the city’s decaying piers. Exuding boundless personality, it remains a discernable beacon for intrepid diners who search out pit stops with panache.
Hugo’s chef extraordinaire and co-proprietor Rob Evans has in the last decade presided over the gastronomies of big city culinary standards in our small metropolis of Portland. It’s an amazing accomplishment. The dining public, especially in Portland, expects a lot of its often heralded local chefs. But Evans delivers more than anyone from a gene pool of excellence that’s unmatched.
Sebago Brewing Company in their new space in the Hampton Inn on Franklin Arterial has raised the bar on the quality of their food and interior design and it has resulted in a stylish, upscale venue far and above the quality of its other chains.
Barhopping in Portland is a mixed bag, from the throngs of 20-somethings who descend on Old Port bars for a night of drinking to the hybrid bar habitués who are more focused on well made food and drink served in stylish surroundings.
While there’s a bevy of highly regarded restaurants in town with popular bars, the stand alone lounge per se is a newcomer.
We went to sleep last week after yet another day of miserable rain and cold, and woke to summer — hot, sunny, humid. Maine has such gorgeous springs, but this year we kind of missed the boat. It rained almost the entire month of May, creating a cool, soggy mess. The poor lilacs — my favorite scent of the season — barely made it inside, with their wet, drooping purple flowers. I finally put away my heavy sweaters and got out the shorts and tank tops and I’m ready to take on this heat.
Not that ago, finding a decent place for lunch in Portland was a dismal prospect for a city that especially prides itself on being a hot bed of creative dining after sunset. There have always been the sandwich shops or Commercial St. chowder houses, which tend to be tourist havens.
As for Congress St., still a sprawling urban melting pot for one and all, some of its many restaurants, with obvious exceptions, seem to come and go around the first of the month when the rent comes due.
The mailman takes his lunch by the small graveyard at the side of a nearby dead-end road. He’s been doing this for well over a year, during snow storms, summer heat waves, as the autumn leaves fall gracefully from the trees, and now, as spring shouts out its glorious green song. I have seen him there, quietly eating his sandwich in the white truck with the red and blue stripes, and wondered what it is that draws him to this particular cemetery.
Petite Jacqueline, sitting very pretty indeed on Longfellow Square in Portland, is just what I expected it to be: a modern-day bistro with all the classic accoutrements of the genre.
The small-plate blitz continues unabated at many new and established Portland restaurants. But like the matador in the ring, I’m still old school in my dining habits and prefer three solid courses from start to finish. When I dine out it’s the food I’m after not a conceptualized pupu platter.
Still modernist cuisine is good when it’s good and I’ve had some very enlightened meals lately at so-called small plate establishments.