Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Restaurant Review: Fore Street, Portland, Maine - 5 stars

Since PP and I managed to get to Portland on this trip (this is Portland in Maine, there is another Portland in Oregon too), he told me we had to take the chance to go to this restaurant he had heard so much about. It is called Fore Street, named after its address, 288 Fore Street, and is in an old fish market warehouse in the old part of Portland near the harbor. Even the signs for the restaurant looked pleasantly old-fashioned. One particular reason we wanted to go here is that the restaurant specialized in locally produced food, something that is becoming more and more important in the US and for PP and me too. We are tired of 'organic' peas being shipped from China to the US, and New Zealand apples that have crossed the globe in airplanes before being sold here and then taste like plastic pieces. And don't get me started on tasteless tomatoes, peas hard as concrete, and the weird things they stuff in kids-marketed food. We are tired of mass-produced food from murky circumstances and factories, so we are trying to eat more locally (and organically) produced food (you can read more at the Slow Food website if you are interested). But back to the restaurant...

This area of the town is filled with old brick buildings. Some street are cobble stoned and the area resembles harbor cities in northern Europe, like Gothenburg. The restaurant is quite different from other restaurants - not only is the ceiling height much more than usual and the large machine shop-like windows old fashioned and different, but the kitchen is centered in an open area in the middle of the dining room. The staff and chefs were incredibly pleasant, and most food was cooked either in a wood fired brick oven or on a large grill in the dining room. Bread was sliced, peas prepared, and lettuce washed right in front of your eyes.

We decided to have a selection of several different things, and all was amazingly good. I had three appetizers: mussels in garlic broth, foie gras (gaslever) with rhubarb compote, and wood-grilled fresh mackerel (makrill). PP settled for the grilled romaine (a kind of lettuce) and the spit grilled pork loin (flaskstek). Mmmm, just thinking about this I remember how good it was.

The broth for the mussels were particularly good when you soak it up with their home baked bread. The foie gras and rhubarb combination was very unusual and very good - why did not anybody think about this combination earlier? PP thought the pork loin was the best he had ever had, and is about to try to recreate it here at home. We will order a rotating spit for our grill so we can do something similar at home (and make rotisserie chicken and lamb too). AREA, you would have loved this place!

After the dinner we had a long way to drive home (90 miles, 2 hours), since we were staying in New Hampshire, but that didn't matter after this memorable meal. I recommend anybody to go to this restaurant, it is simply fantastic. Not only the food, the whole ambiance was so pleasant. It was a full body/mind experience. Still, it wasn't the very best restaurant experience we had on the trip I think, but more about that later.

Conclusion: 5 out of 5 stars for Fore Street, Portland, Maine
(click on the photos to see larger versions)
(here is another review of this restaurant for your pleasure)


EH said...

A wonderful tale about your dinner! Fantastic, I want to taste all that too.
But I´ll had other nice dinners and some of them with you, a special thanks for my going home dinner, I still have the glass wine cork, PP.

In summer it´s easier to be local here in Sweden. In winter we only have salt herring and potatoes in this country and probably would get skörbjugg (vitamin C defiency) if we ate only that. Unfortaltely I must say, we go to the big food malls, were everything is imported...I feel a need for a change.

O.K. said...

Dang it! Now I'm hungry. Again.

Hur kan gåslevern smaka något när nån lagt rabarber på den? ;)

LS said...

The rhubarb was just a condiment, an accent, a little taste note to highlight the fattiness and smoothness of the foie gras. But I was wondering how the goose liver was locally produced, maybe they have goose fattening farms in Maine?

LS said...

EH, you can find at least some more local food if you go to local farms or buy things like carrots and cabbage, etc. I am reading a book right now about a family that tried to live on only locally produced food for a year, but they allowed each person one exception, like coffee and nutmed and black pepper. When I am done with the book, I'll write a book review here on the blog, since the topic is quite interesting. They have their own garden in Virginia, and buy egg, milk, and sheep and goat meat locally.

LS said...

And don't forget about all those mushrooms you have in Sweden!!!! YOu can get a lot of local things, if you can store things in freezer or so. Here is my list:
saft (fruit syrup)
sylt (jam, jellies)
lots of fruit

Remember grandma E's cellar with all the stored food, apples wrapped in paper and so on? All her fantastic jams and pancakes and bread? I know it takes time, but I think you save money too. It is just that we are all so busy!!!! Right?