On our recent trip to Portland, Maine to visit old friends, we encountered a whole new meaning to the term “life is good”. With its slow, laid back vibe and friendly locals, we were welcomed with open arms by the slew of restaurants and bars we were lucky enough to visit.
Our lovely friend Alison brought us to Eventide, one of three restaurants on Middle Street all owned by the powerhouse team of Andrew Taylor, Arlin Smith, and Mike Wiley. It set the tone for our visit with its simple, fresh, quality ingredients and welcoming yet trendy atmosphere.
The Twisted Tea, described as being “delightfully trashy”, was a no-brainer. Black tea vodka, mandarin orange vodka, and lemonade seamlessly married to form a strong yet dangerously delicious cocktail. It also won some points for the cute little bottle it comes in. Classy, yet unpretentious. It’s a far cry from trashy, but almost certainly delightful.
The Albacore tuna crudo blew our minds. That bright, fresh-from-the-sea flavor was everything in this dish – even the biggest tuna-haters out there would struggle not to find it irresistible. Accompanied by a ginger-scallion pesto of sorts, and fresh, sweet radish slices, raw tuna never tasted this good.
Then came the Dashi Chowder – an irresistible miso based chowder with chunks of seafood, potato, and charred onions. The soup was also served with a mini buttery biscuit that knocked the chowder out of the park. It was welcomingly hearty and immediately set the standard for the rest of the evening.
Maybe it was because we were on vacation in one of the best culinary cities in the country, but we ordered potato chips without putting too much thought into it. Again, we were instantly blown away. They were crispy thin and fried to absolute perfection. These herb-laced chips were served with an addictive mayo of some sort. We would gladly snack on these everyday if Eventide delivered to Boston.
Let’s not miss the main talking point here. (It took every fiber of my being not to make a pun just there.) We’re talking oysters. And lots of it. Between the three of us, we ordered a dozen of Pemaquid Point, Flying Point, Pine Point, and North Haven – all farmed in Maine. We chose the Tabasco ice and horseradish ice to accompany our precious bivalves. By the time we were done with these, we had hit seafood nirvana.
This was one of the best lobster rolls we’ve ever had (alongside that of Neptune Oyster in Boston’s North End). The lobster roll showcased two stellar flavors: the mouth-watering taste of unadulterated fresh lobster, and a generous amount of butter. And not just regular old butter, but brown butter. (And you know how much we love that stuff.)
Rather than being served on a classic buttered bread bun, it was presented in a soft, steamed bun, similar in texture to a bao bun. And it’s smaller size only meant we could each have one all to ourselves and still leave room for dessert. When in Portland, this buttery serving of fresh lobster is a must-have.
The meal ended on a high note (but let’s be real, it was all just one very long high note) with a made in-house ice cream sandwich. Thick servings of vanilla bean ice cream were squeezed between two giant soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies, which happened to be studded with pools of dark TCHO chocolate, one of our favorite ingredients. We know our sweets, and this pastry chef did not disappoint.
We will surely be coming back the next time we visit our friends in Portland. For now, we will be drooling over their menu. We will also make sure to visit their sister restaurants The Honey Paw and Hugo’s next time we make our way through Maine.