Wednesday Food: Fancy Night Out!

If your familiar with Portland, ME - you may know that we have a pretty impressive restaurant scene.  I once heard a statistic that Portland has the highest amount of restaurants per capita over any other metropolitan city.  Which really just means we have a ton of restaurants with fewer amount of people living here.  It's the swelling of population in the summer months that keep all these restaurants busy, busy, busy!

One restaurant that I know for a fact is always busy, no matter the time of year is Fore Street.  With James Beard Award winning chef, Sam Hayword and his staff, turning out delicious food seven days a week - locals and tourists alike are beating down the door for reservations!  They take advantage of all the great local game meat, produce and seafood as well as finding the best foie gras in the Hudson Valley, fish from Cape Cod and sweetbreads from Wisconsin.

Fore Street operates on a "market menu", which means it changes everyday.  It keeps things fresh and exciting, not just for the customers - but for the wait staff and kitchen too.  I've worked in this type of set up before; it is fun and you get to constantly work with different seasonal produce.  You find different ways to prepare fruits, how they are best utilized, and what to do when they start to get past their prime.

Eric and I joined our friend, Chris for a lovely late night dinner at Fore Street.  It was graduation weekend, and you can tell the restaurant had already been worked over, but everyone's energy was still running high.  The dining room is an open space with the exception of a private dining area off to the side.  The kitchen is open as well, meaning you can see your food being made while you dine.  I always enjoyed working in an open kitchen because I felt like I was part of the dining experience rather than shunned off behind the curtain.  An open kitchen is much more common in California than East Coast dining.

We decided to get a few appetizers to share between us.  This can be a cheaper way to eat out all fancy like.  But if your someone like me and you always end up stuffing yourself into bloated oblivion when you go out, this ensures you leave the restaurant feeling good.  I know it may not seem like a lot, but when you add your glass of wine and a basket of FANTASTIC bread along with it, you are feeling very satisfied!  And by the way, that fantastic bread I mentioned is by none other than the Standard Baking Company.  They share the building with Fore Street and have the same owner.

When our lovely waiter told us about the appetizer special of Soft Shell Crab, I was sold!    Along with that, we got the Wood Oven Roasted Sardines, and the Wood Grilled New England Quail.  Everything was delicious, but the Soft Shell Crab was definitely my favorite.  It was perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy delicious on the inside!  Also served with tangy fiddleheads and a spicy hot sauce.  All components worked well together to create a happy dance in my mouth.

Quail w/ Spicy Fingerling Potato Salad

Cornmeal Crusted Soft Shell Crab w/ Fiddleheads and Hot Sauce
Roasted Sardines w/ Seared Chickpeas, Wild Mushrooms and Marinated Onions

Sardines after they were devoured by Eric

 Now that we have had our savory fix, it was time to move on to dessert.  I bypassed the cheese plate, which is extraordinarily hard for me to do, but we wanted to keep it sweet.  So we got the Warm Black Pepper Crepes stuffed with stewed rhubarb, strawberry coulis and frozen yogurt and the plate of handmade chocolates.  Our waiter highly agreed with our choices and said they would go perfectly together.  They complimented each other very well!  The tart and spice of the crepes worked nicely with the richness of the chocolates.  The stand out on the chocolate plate was the white chocolate bark, with sea salt and spicy pepitas (pumpkin seeds).  Often times, white chocolate is boring and not very popular with the general public.  They really made white chocolate alittle out of the ordinary and very tasty for once!

 Left to Right: Bittersweet Chocolate Bark with Almond Toffee Bits, Rosemary Truffles, Lavender Truffles and White Chocolate Bark with Sea Salt and Spicy Pepitas

It had been a long time since Eric and I have had the full restaurant experience.  It was great to be back in familiar territory and also to have our friend Chris along for the ride!  We had a nice relaxing and delicious evening and to make it even more special, we could see fireworks going off across the bay.  Good food, good wine, good company and......fireworks.  Does it get any better?

Remember, when the kitchen gets too hot....go out to an awesome dinner with good friends!  See you next week!


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