Winter Weekend in Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine is one of my favorite summer destinations in New England, but last weekend, Matt and I took a trip there and enjoyed the city in its winter wonderland glory.
Food & Wine calls Portland the foodiest, friendliest small town in America, and it’s true. There’s a myriad of restaurants available – from shacks to gastropubs – and everything is within walking distance. Folks are warm and hospitable, there’s a robust arts and culture scene, lots of picturesque little shops, and of course, lobster.
One of my favorite dishes during our stay was the “Clean Shirt Lobstah Dinnah” from BlueFin, the restaurant at the Portland Harbor Hotel which was our home for the long weekend. The lobster meat (claws and tail) was already picked and ready-for-eating, served with melted butter, creamed corn, and lobster mashed potatoes.
We also had some flash fried calamari, Maine crab cakes, and lobster bisque. We (I) had blueberrry ice cream with fresh whipped cream for dessert, and it seemed like the perfect Maine meal. (I always think about lobster, crab, and blueberries as the top things to eat in the state). Everything at BlueFin (formerly Eve’s at the Garden) was mouth-watering, made even better by the fact that it was in the comfort of our hotel.
Speaking of our hotel, the Portland Harbor Hotel is BEAUTIFUL. It was all decked out for the holidays, and we loved our suite with a plush king-sized bed and views of the courtyard.
How pretty is that?
Oh and we also ordered room service for breakfast (#vacationlife):
Last weekend was the first snow of the season and the city was blanketed in white. It felt almost magical walking around and exploring the district of Old Port, lined with cobblestone streets, 19th century brick buildings, shopping boutiques, and old fishing piers.
We made a stop (okay, we made two stops over the course of three days) at Holy Donut to get my favorite Dark Chocolate Sea Salt donut. I’ve mentioned Holy Donut in this blog before, and I regularly dream of their chocolate donut. Their donuts have an incredibly tender texture because of a secret ingredient: fresh Maine potatoes! That’s right, there’s mashed potatoes in the donuts. It’s genius and delicious.
(that’s me and Matt outside of Portland Harbor Hotel, post-donut and pre-shopping)
We were easily able to get coveted tables at two very popular Portland restaurants without reservations, and our trick was to come during lunch. Yes, lunch menus are not as extensive as dinner menus, but we didn’t have to wait, and as a bonus we had great lighting for food pics, too :)
The first restaurant was Central Provisions, known for crudo and small plates. It’s one of Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants in America, and a finalist for a James Beard Best New Restaurant in its first year of operations.
We both really liked the tuna crudo and the boquerones (anchovies). I love anchovies and seek it out during my travels. I also tried their homemade pineapple soda, and it tasted so fresh. Definitely planning on coming back next time we’re in Portland.
The second restaurant was Miyake, which I felt transported us back to Japan. Chef Masa Miyake only serves seafood straight out of Maine waters, or flown directly from Japan.
We started with toro (fatty tuna) nigiri, and tried the set tasting menu. Highlights for me were the marinated salmon and braised pork belly. Both were meltingly tender with the perfect balance of flavors.
Last but not least, we capped off our trip with the sweetest way way possible: hand-dipped truffles and chocolate squares from Dean’s Sweets, one of my favorite chocolate shops.
We had an incredibly relaxing and comfortable time in Portland. The Portland Harbor Hotel is the ideal place for a Portland vacation. It’s right in Fore Street, and the rooms are spacious and comfy. Great service, and the staff are very knowledgeable and friendly, and the food is fantastic. They even offer town car service for guests – which was a very nice perk during a cold and wintry weekend.
I really look forward to coming back again next year and indulging in more lobster, donuts, and more deliciousness! Thanks for following along our trip!
This post was sponsored by Portland Harbor Hotel. Thank you for supporting Confessions of a Chocoholic and the brands that support this blog.