In my usual scan of the New York Times Dining & Wine section today I saw the headline “In Portland, a Golden Age of Dining and Drinking” and I thought, “Cool – um, I mean, really? A golden age of dining and drinking right in nearby Portland, Maine?” But, no. Alas, the story is about Portland, Oregon. I scrolled through the article, though, since I like the idea of great food and wine as much as the next guy, and was rewarded by – yes! – a story about traveling in Maine one microbrewery at a time including Portland, home to D.L. Geary Brewing and Shipyard Brewing Company, among others.
Dining options in a small city like Portland, Maine may not compare to other, larger metropolitan areas (like, say, Portland, Oregon? Yes, exactly. But let me continue…) but there are some really enjoyable places to be found in and around Portland (Maine). Walter’s Cafe, for instance, where my wife and I went before seeing James Taylor in concert in August (see post here), is a nice little place. I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed my Hendrick’s Experience martini (complete with lightly pickled cucumber garnish) and what followed:
- melon salad with arugula, prosciutto, and crème frâiche,
- Old port filet with lobster and Stilton “mac and cheese,”
- Four Vines old vines Zinfandel, and
- crème brulée and coffee.
The crème brulée was ordinary enough but was well done, and the Zinfandel was exactly what I expected. The filet, at first glance, seemed smaller than I would have expected, but was quite satisfying along with the caramelized shallot demi-glâce. The star, though, for me was the lobster and Stilton “mac and cheese.” Creamy and good blue cheese flavor without being too in-your-face about it, and just enough of it not to feel cheated or like we needed to have some lessons in portion control.
So, maybe it’s not Portland, Maine that’s being written up for its “golden age” of dining, but if you’re on your way through to look at the leaves and/or visit a microbrewery, you should be able to find some tasty places for something to eat, too.
(And, yes, I do appreciate the irony of this post following one about hunger. In fact, I’ve been thinking about the way I enjoy food and drink and how food has come to be a form of recreation, but I can only take so much guilt at once.)