August 14, 2019 | BITE: My Journal
Ambassadors in a Foreign Country
At our turnpike gas stop I was drawn to study the rack of gummy candy. Dana had brought some along for me.
My niece Dana and my friend Diane thought it would be good for me – even soothing – to get away. Did you notice? There was no BITE this week. They liked the idea of port towns in Maine. Lobster roll and clam belly country, I thought. Yes.
We never had trouble spotting our little red car anywhere we parked. And it was roomy too.
Diane borrowed her husband’s brand new car – fire engine red. We’d never lose it in a parking lot. I said I’d pay for hotels and inns and small-town bed and breakfasts. I had no opinions about where we should stay or even where we would eat. But a food-savvy friend had said Fore Street was the place to eat in Portland. Portland, Oregon? Hmmm, a desperately long detour for dinner. Oh yes, that other Portland, Portland Maine.
Most of our side trips and wanderings took us by wonderful water scenes like this one.
Fore Street was fully booked. What would I expect? Saturday night in August. But our friend back home had connections, too. It took several days of communicating our need, but ultimately she scored a table, windowside no less.
Fore Street restaurant was jumping on Saturday night. Luckily, a friend had reserved a table for us.
We were ravenous, filling up on fresh bread, and then quickly devouring the seafood platter.
I wasn’t keen on the hotel my pals had booked, but given that I was just a hitchhiker here, I had no right to complain. We walked a few blocks to the restaurant in the Old Port District where two or three couples were waiting at the welcome stand. We were promptly escorted by the open kitchen – past the brick and soapstone hearth, a wood-burning oven, and a grill and turnspit. There was a stack of freshly baked bread loaves en route to our window table, overlooking a parking lot with a sliver of ocean visible two blocks away.
Diane shared her Bang’s Island rope-cultured smoked mussels with us.
The menu was dated Tuesday, with specials from categories like Garden and Woods and Sea. Raw and Chilled Sea Food. Grilled, Fried and Seared Meats. Chilled Meats and Offal. Turnspit Roasted Meat and Plants were listed on the other side of the page. I’m not sure what overcame us. We chose and discussed and vetoed and chose again. Our server returned three or four times to take the order while we were still debating. And then we couldn’t find her.
I haven’t had pan-seared chicken livers for so long. Couldn’t resist these with grilled sourdough, cabbage slaw.
She eventually came by again, leaving to check with the chef about my chicken livers. I could have them rare or crispy but not both, she informed me. I said rare and soft was fine for me. I never had a problem searing the liver on both sides and leaving the interior rare, but I didn’t feel like arguing because I was supposed to be on vacation.
I’m not sure why the chilled seafood tasting platter took so long to arrive. “There is some beautiful bread on the counter,” I informed the server. “How about bringing us some?” Three of us were quickly clearing off the $28 seafood platter, spooning up Casco Bay lobster with caper mayonnaise and smoked mussels, piling silken slices of beet-cured Coho salmon and bluefish pâté on chunks of bread.
It’s August in Maine, so why would we have anything but berries with lemon curd? So good.
Maybe it was the last-minute decision to also order bourbon honey-brined chicken that slowed our dinner. “I think you offended her,” said Diane. “People in Portland don’t talk like you do,” she chided. Dana gave each of us a juicy chunk of the bird and a bite of duck fat sourdough. She and Diane turned on some charm and soon enough our server was smiling again. And so was I – savoring fresh berries with ice cream and chocolate.
We walked to Fore Street on Brant from our hotel.
Fore Street. 288 Fore Street, Portland, Maine. 207 775 2717.
Shun Crave Fishbar Pearl Oyster Bar