Tag Archives: maine restaurants

Maine Cubed: Portland- Duckfat

17 Jul

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and so it was that we found ourselves back in Portland for lunch on our voyage back to the airport. We were racing to an appointment to do a tasting and tour at Allagash Brewery but decided we had just enough time to squeeze in a stop at Duckfat, a sandwich shop (specializing in fries and panini) that had been recommended to me by a few different people.

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The restaurant is small with a number of high top tables and bars around the kitchen to sit.

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It has a quirky personality with tiny pictures in the window that looks into the kitchen.

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And notice the magnetic poetry on the wall in the background of the below picture.

We ordered the fries with the truffle ketchup and boy oh boy were these good.  Perfectly crisp (thanks to the duck fat, I’m sure) and why I haven’t run into about a million versions of truffle ketchup to date, I do not know… but it was delightful.

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We kept an eye on time and quickly realized it was not on our side, so the waitress packed up our sandwiches to go.  We wound up gobbling them down in the car.

Mike got the pork belly with carrot, radish, pickled onion, cilantro & thai chili mayo. I took a mayo-less nibble and it was quite nice.

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I got the duck confit with caramelized miso mayo, bok choy & sweet onion. This was sensational. The duck was so tender and seasoned just right, and that caramelized miso mayo and onion added a perfect compliment of sweetness.

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Overall, I really enjoyed Duckfat. It’s unlike any sandwich shop I’ve ever been to and we really enjoyed it. I just recommend leaving yourself more than a few minutes to eat there!

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

I was sad to leave Maine (as I always am) but I’m excited to say that we’ll probably be going back next month to explore wedding venues!

Maine Cubed: Boothbay Harbor- Dockside Grill

10 Jul

Our trip to Maine concluded with a visit to Boothbay Harbor, a town on a peninsula about an hour from Portland.  I heard it was beautiful, but a bit too crazy during peak season, so I was happy to be there when it was just before the high time.  We decided to take a Whale Watch on Cap’n Fish’s. We looked it up on our GPS and wound up at the hotel instead of the actual whale watch, but luckily they also sold tickets. We asked them for a recommendation on where to have breakfast, and they sent us to a property behind the hotel on the dock called Dockside Grill.

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A sign on the door sited apologies that they were closing early, about an hour later than the current time. We got in and realized that this meant they were out of a lot of items on the menu.  But we’re not picky!

The inside was a very casual diner atmosphere, almost greasy spoon-like.

Mike got the Meat and Cheese omelette and said it was “an omelette.”

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They were out of everything I wanted but I wound up getting a lobster omelette (that came with cheese that I believe was swiss) and some pepper-less potatoes.

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I actually really enjoyed mine. Only in Maine do you pull up to a random diner and get an entire hunk of claw in an omelette. Mine was a wee bit watery, and if not for the lobster quality itself it would have been a pretty average omelette, but you can’t resist this.

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Overall, it was a fine breakfast, but if I hadn’t taken pictures of it, I probably wouldn’t have even remembered we ate there.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

As a sidenote, we had over 15 sightings of whales on the Whale Watch later that day, as well as a seal sighting and just an incredibly wonderful time.

Maine Cubed: Wiscasset- Red’s Eats

5 Jul

There are few places in Maine as “famous” as Red’s Eats.  It is a small stand on Rt. 1 in Wiscasset that serves lobster rolls known far and wide. I have seen lines that are over an hour long.

We were looking for lunch on our way up the highway and noticed that the line was only half a block long (very good by Red’s standards). So we found some parking and hopped on.

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Their lobster roll is known for having an entire lobster’s worth of meat inside and made the “authentic” Maine way with lobs of meat on a toasted hotdog bun. It comes with butter or mayo on the side to dip in.  The “authentic” lobster roll is a point of contention, with some people saying it needs 1 leaf of lettuce and/or some mayo mixed in, but Red’s is really all about the meat.

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You step up to a window and suddenly notice that there are about a million people inside this little shack

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We ordered the fried clams along with our lobster roll.

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The clams were quite delicious. Juicy and flavorful with a decent crisp on the fry. Some were a little soggy, but overall it was a good dish of food.

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And then the lobster roll. You can even see the bun under there through all the lobster meat! And you will notice that there is a tail on either side.  Very good on the lobster meat, but I just always prefer a steamed lobster I crack myself to a roll.

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I’m glad we stopped at Red’s, but I can’t say I’m itching to go back. I can’t say it was the best lobster roll I’ve ever had, but it was very good.

Maine Cubed: Lincolnville- Cellardoor Winery

3 Jul

We stumbled on Cellardoor Winery by accident on our trip 2 years ago and really enjoyed it. Upon posting about returning to Maine on the NYCNomNom Facebook page (Are you a fan? You should be!), one of Mike’s (AKA Mr. Nom Nom) friends mentioned that she had recently moved up there and was working at this very winery.  Small world!

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Since we visited 2 years ago, they have started producing their own wines and have expanded their tasting room and added a few facilities.  But the original beautiful structure remains.

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As do my favorite stools.

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We decided to do 2 separate tastings since they had a special going on for Father’s Day to do a wine and chocolate tasting. We started with the general tasting and enjoyed some wines off their list.  We especially liked the Serendipity, which is a dessert wine made with Maple Syrup, and Triology, a really nice red.

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They have a little market space in the middle, where we picked up some artichoke pesto (which was sensational on pasta when we got home).

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They have some great looking (and tasting) cheeses.

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The new room features some local art.

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And a large tasting bar.

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And tasting room.

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With a nice kitchen setup to offer grub.

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Their chocolate pairing partner for the day was Sweet Marguerites.  We tried a number of delectable bites with delectable wine. We tried their malted bacon chocolate, which was superb.

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Green Tea and Ginger. Good flavor and went well with the wine.

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Force Noir. A very well balanced dark chocolate.

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And Fleur del Sel caramels that came with big pieces of macadamia nut. Another awesome bite.

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We really enjoyed our entire experience at Cellardoor, and it’s a great place to stop if you’re in the area (Midcoast Maine: Lincolnville). They also are one of the very few wineries that offer free tastings, which made me more inclined to try more, and therefore buy more.

Maine Cubed: The NYCNomNom Guide to Eating Steamers and Lobster

3 Jul

Eating Lobster and Steamers is an art form, but an easily mastered art form. I have been eating this fantastic meal since I was a kid, and I have taught many a friend how to get the most out of their meal. So without further ado, here is the NYCNomNom Guide to Eating Steamers and Lobster.

Step 1:

Go to Maine.


(this is the spot we got engaged: Pemaquid Point Lighthouse)

Step 2:

Find yourself a lobster “shack” in the middle of nowhere, preferably on a beautiful body of water.  Waterman’s Beach Lobster in Spruce Head is a fine choice. (I also like Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast and Beal’s Lobster Pier in Southwest Harbor, but there are plenty of options all along the coast)

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Step 3:

Choose lobster and steamers from the menu.  A 1 1/4 pound lobster and 1/2 pound of steamers is usually the perfect amount for 1 person. The typical “dinner” comes with some form of potato chips and butter, and depending on your location, a piece of corn or a roll. (Steamers are another name for Steamed Clams)

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Step 4:

Choose a picnic table and soak up the sea breeze while you wait. (Tip: Bring a jacket. Even in mid-summer, being on the water in Maine is a chilly enterprise).

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Step 4:

View your clams, but not for long, that sea breeze will cool them off quickly.

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Step 5:

Choose your clam and remove it from the shell (sometimes it requires a little tug to remove it from the “foot,” which is the bit of clam left in the shell when you yank it out).

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Step 6:

Identify the “sock” which is the uglier portion of the clam (yes it’s all ugly, but the sock is the ugliest) on the stem-like portion of the clam and remove it.  It will roll off the tip of the clam (it is impossible to avoid this sounding like a condom reference, so just accept that you are taking an ugly condom off a clam and move on).

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Step 7:

Hold clam by the stem-like portion and dip it into the briny water (if supplied). This helps remove any sand that may be remaining on the clam.

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Step 8:

Continue your stem holding and dip it in the melted butter then shove the whole thing in your mouth and chew. Yes, they are an acquired taste.  A taste worth acquiring. Keep eating.

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Step 9:

Turn sites to lobster. Break off the smaller legs on the underside of the lobster and suck lobster meat out like they are straws. Also remove meat from the claws (shoulders up) and the tail (twist it off the rest of the body).  You can eat everything except the body and head (and advanced lobster folks know that there are even some hidden pockets of meat in there!) If you have trouble getting into anything, use the nut cracker and poky stick to achieve lobster greatness.

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Bonus Step:

Once you have mastered the art of removing your lobster from its shell, challenge yourself to lobster greatness by trying to remove the claws of the lobster in full.

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Super Secret Bonus Step:

Do not tell anyone I told you this. I will deny that I do this to my grave so keep your lobster eating trap shut. But there is nothing quite like ending your lobster meal by dipping your potato chips in the now lobster infused butter.  Thank me later.

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And in the end, you will be a mess. You will be sticky (they usually provide you wet naps) possibly sliced up from sharp pieces of shell (you will heal) and thinking to yourself that you have never worked so hard for a meal that someone else prepared. It is worth it.

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I hope you have enjoyed your tutorial.  Now have you booked your trip to Maine yet?

Maine Cubed: Camden- Grand Harbor Inn

28 Jun

I did a lot of searching for hotels in Camden and really wanted to stay at the Grand Harbor Inn since we saw it being built on our kayak tour 2 years ago and it looks beautiful. But rooms were just out of our price range for a weekend getaway.  So I booked a night at the Lord Camden Inn, a very recognizable inn on Main Street with blue awnings, that happens to be the sister property of the Grand Harbor Inn. We checked in and headed up to our room… only to find that it was still occupied.  Luckily, the person wasn’t IN the room at the time, but I walked in and thought it just wasn’t cleaned, only to turn around and find car keys and credit cards on the shelf (scary).  

We went downstairs to the front desk, told them what we found, and without missing a beat the woman at the desk made a phone call and confirmed that “Room #11 was open.”  She apologized and very professionally told us that we were being upgraded to their sister property, the Grand Harbor Inn.  How on earth my luck came in at this moment, I have no idea, but it was some fantastic luck.

We went down the street and checked in. The woman at the desk gave us a personal tour of the room and pointed out some lovely features.

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We also had a large flat screen TV and a fireplace (which we turned on, even though it was warm).

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The bathroom was something else. Beautifully designed with a great jacuzzi tub…

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… and this… this pièce de résistance… the shower.  

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8 streams and all of them movable. I put this on very hot and basically had a back massage from the shower.  This was freakin’ heaven.

The hotel is on the harbor and just a short walk away is my favorite view.

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It’s a narrow harbor with beautiful boats in it. It always looks like a postcard.

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And as we sat there and took in the view, a loon (my favorite bird) made an appearance right in front of us.  

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Heading back to the hotel that night, after eating at The Pearl, we found our bed beautifully turned down.

The bed was probably the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. I thought the bed at Pomegranate was comfy, and I thought Westin Heavenly Beds are comfy, but they didn’t hold a candle to this cloud.

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This hotel doesn’t have a breakfast facility, so you fill out a card the night before and they bring room service up to you. It’s included in the room price.  We had a lovely breakfast of fresh fruit with yogurt and croissants.  Fresh coffee and juice.

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And we had “the worst view” in the hotel, with only a partial harbor view from the balcony, but it was still absolutely gorgeous.

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We had a phenomenal stay and that strange accident that brought us here was just kismet.It was easily the best hotel I have ever stayed at, and I’ve been fortunate enough to stay at some lovely places while traveling on business.

Our stay made a fan out of me and next time I’m in Camden, I know it will be worth the extra money to stay here again.   And hey… we might just be in the area to get married next year. I’m sure it would make for a lovely honeymoon suite!

Maine Cubed: Rockland- The Pearl with The Next Food Network Star Contestant Chef Michele Ragussis

28 Jun

We had read about Michele Ragussis, a contestant on the Next Food Network Star’s current season, was spending her summer as the chef of The Pearl in Rockland, ME. (Randomly, we wound up here for a beer before our dinner at Primo 2 years ago).

I think they updated it since then, but it is still a very picturesque location out on the water. No matter what angle, every photo of it looks like a postcard.

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We started with our customary raw oysters. These were great and nice and fresh. (And you can’t beat $1 oysters!)

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Mike then tried the Lobster with Lemon Cream over linguini. I was worried this would be too lemony or too creamy, but instead it was a perfect balance of both.  Very nice dish.

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I got the special fish of the day, which was a red snapper with a peach saffron sauce and a potato cake.  The fish had a slight crisp and the sauce was sweet and a perfect compliment. The potato cake was like a giant, gourmet tater tot with perfect seasoning.  Comfort food but more refined.  And that sauce… oh that sauce. I asked the waitress to explain the sauce to me, and she said that she could just go get the chef… Well ALRIGHT! 

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Chef Ragussis came by a bit later and was more than happy to talk to us.  She was beyond welcoming, friendly, and genuinely excited to be there.  She told me that the sauce was actually made with peaches that she just received from Martie Duncan, another contestant on the show.  And let me tell you, they were special peaches!

We talked to Chef Ragussis about the show and why she decided to go to Maine. Turns out she knew the owner from a previous job and was excited to spend a summer in Maine before the results of the show.  The restaurant gave her the flexibility to return to the show when she’s needed. This season has a twist, where audience vote will decide the winner for the first time.  

As we were leaving, Chef invited us back the following night when they would be screening the show live and doing a tasting.  We were planning on heading out of town directly after a sunset schooner cruise that night from Camden, but we had to pass Rockland anyway, so we said “what the hell!” How often do you get the chance to watch a show with a contestant and sample their food?

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The secret ingredient on the show that night was chicken liver, so we got a chance to sample the version she made on crostini.

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And eat her clam chowder.  This clam chowder was quintessentially New England. Big chunks of clam and great flavor and texture.

We then had the Pearl Stuffies which were clamsstuffed with Michele’s private recipe. I talked with Chef Michele for a bit about whether they had peppers, and she said they did but just a little bit. I asked her if they were worth having an itchy mouth for, and she said yes, they were. So I tried it. It was very good but my mouth was VERY itchy.

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We ended with a brownie that had homemade whipped cream and butterscotch sauce on top. Turns out, Michele only made the cream and sauce, which is funny since I liked both of those but didn’t think the brownie was anything special.

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We had a lot of fun talking with Chef Ragussis and then watching the show. The food was really great, and that peach sauce will be a thing of my dreams for years to come.  The bites during the screening weren’t as good as the meal the night before, but it was fun to be able to sample what was being cooked on the screen. I know I have thought to myself about a million times that I wish we had taste-o-vision. Well this was as close as you can get!

I was entirely impressed with how much she interacted with the customers, answered questions, and was generally just a cool person to hang around with.

She has my vote!

As does The Pearl.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Maine Cubed: Portland- Pomegranate Inn

26 Jun

 When we were in Portland, we decided to stay at a quaint, quirky Bed & Breakfast called the Pomegranate Inn.  The Inn itself was like being in a very eclectic museum.  Our room was the “small” room but it was plenty large enough, with a beautiful design, super comfy bed, and lovely bath. Perhaps it’s because we’re New Yorkers who are used to small size, but I was surprised that this room would ever be considered small. We loved it! Here are some pictures of the inn itself.

In the morning, we went downstairs for breakfast in the lovely dining room.  Our hosts greeted us and we grabbed some coffee and checked out the menu for the morning while our food was prepared.

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The port wine poached pear was awesome. And the blue cheese could not have gone better with it.

But then the cheese blintz souffle came out… HOLY COW.  This was as delicious as it was beautiful, if not more so.  The bacon was crisp (the way I like it) and it had absolutely delicious peaches.  The souffle itself was a cross between a fluffy pancake in texture and a blintz in flavor.  Sensational.

This dish was so inspired that I actually wound up buying the innkeepers cookbook, The Art of Breakfast. If you love beautiful works of art for breakfast, this cookbook is great.


We absolutely loved our stay and wished we could have stayed longer.  I highly recommend this B&B to anyone staying in Portland, ME.

Maine Cubed: Portland- Petite Jacqueline, Beal’s Ice Cream, and Shipyard Brewery

26 Jun

Mike and I embarked on a long weekend to Maine just this past weekend. It wound up being the most perfect trip, made even more perfect by the fact that we got engaged!  I am on my way to being Mrs. Nom Nom.

This is now the third trip I have blogged about on NYCNomNom, including Mike and my first trip together 2 years ago, and my family trip that took place 2 years ago but just made it to the blog recently.

I found an amazing JetBlue deal of $75 off our tickets (thanks to a post from DealsWeLike), which brought our round-trip tickets to less than $70 each. SCORE! It meant planning an extra trip in a time of year FILLED with trips (I just got back from LA, we will be going to Ithaca next week for a cousin’s Bar Mitzvah, and then we’re embarking on a huge trip for 2 weeks to Italy, Switzerland, and France next month). We flew into Portland, where we spent a day, before going to Midcoast Maine and then spent 2 days in the Boothbay Harbor area.

One thing I love about Portland, Maine is that you can land and be in town in less than 30 minutes. So even though we landed at 6:45, we had time to check-in, walk around town, and spend a half hour during free Fridays at the Portland Museum of Art, before our 8:30 reservation at  Petite Jacqueline.  I had read about Petite Jacqueline because it was a semifinalist for the James Beard award in 2012 for Best New Restaurant.

Inside it is a cute bistro style restaurant and there is some outdoor seating in a patio.

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They also have a bar.

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And a direct view into the kitchen.

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We started with oysters.  These were good, but I wouldn’t say they were outstanding.

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But then we had the foie gras. This had candied hazelnuts and a chestnut puree.  HELLO!  It was probably the best foie I’ve had. Perfectly seared, fatty but without being greasy, and all the right flavors to go along with it.

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Mike chose to go with the daily special (it was Friday): Choucroute Garnie.  This was a french sauerkraut with a pork sausage and a crispy porky potatoey thing (perhaps a croquette?) Whatever it was, it was all very good.  It came with mustard in many ways, but even I, a mustard hater, enjoyed the dish very much.

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I got the Boeuf Bourguignon (which will always remind me of Julia Child). I’m a big fan of any slow cooked pot roast style meat, so this was right up my alley. The meat was cooked perfectly, the sauce was great, and the potatoes tasted so damn potatoey that I squealed.

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Overall, I understand why this restaurant got a James Beard nod.  Their food is very French without being the slightest bit pretentious. We really enjoyed our meal here.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

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It was a tough call to not have dessert at Petite Jacqueline, but we knew this was our only night in Portland, so we made a beeline back to our favorite ice cream parlor: Beals. We literally made it just as they were locking the door. Phew!

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They have a large selection of flavors.

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Mike went with Rum Raisin and Moose Trail.

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I chose Moose Trail and something with chocolate covered pretzels and caramel.

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We enjoyed it as much as the first time!

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The next day we walked around Portland and then went to Shipyard Brewery for their video tour and tasting.  They only do full brewery tours on Tuesdays, but every other day they have a video tour where they tell you about the history of the brewery as well as their part in bottling and distributing of many other local brews.  They have all the beers they have manufactured on a wall beside the viewing room.  The video was interesting and short (which was good, we’ve done a lot of brewery tours and they start to feel very similar after a while). The best part of this tour was the tasting. We got to taste about 10 beers and had our choice of a few to taste, so Mike and I would choose different ones and try each others. We probably sampled about 15 brews by the end.  And let me tell you, they make some GOOD BEER. But we fell in love with the Applehead Ale, which tasted like apple pie. Trust me on this one. I just hope they start distributing it down here in NYC!

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Gosh I love Portland.

Maine Take 2: River House in Portsmouth, NH

18 Jun

One nice thing about road tripping to Maine from the TriState area is you drive right through Portsmouth, NH. Portsmouth is a beautiful town where you could probably spend a full vacation if you want to. In my family, however, it has always been a stop along the way.  We would get out of the car after about 5 hours driving up from Jersey, and as kids we went to the Children’s Museum to play before having lunch in town.

Now, as an adult, we skip right to the lunch and spend some time walking around the town. There are a number of restaurants lined up along the water, and this time we decided to try River House.  It has beautiful views and it’s great to be able to sit outside.

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And dream about the houses across the water.

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And watch the boats and the bridge. It’s really quite lovely.

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Their menu is extensive and varied.

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We started with the warm lobster artichoke dip. Lobster and artichokes are 2 of my favorite food, so I was thrilled.

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And I loved that it came with big ol’ chunks of lobster in it.

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We also tried something on a skewer.  I wish I remembered what this was… but 2 years later, it has evaporated (and we already know about the fate of the notebook I bought).

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One person in our party got The Cowboy Burger, which was dusted with Cowboy Ranch seasoning, chargrilled, topped with spicy Pepper Jack cheese on a toasted Brioche roll, finished with crisp onion straws, and a side of their house made Chipotle ketchup. He really enjoyed this burger.

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We also got a swiss burger with sweet potato fries.

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And my sister and I split The Tall Ships Plate, which was a 6 inch sweet Maine lobster roll on a grilled brioche bun with a cup of chowder and some sweet potato fries.

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The lobster roll was made the way I like it… on a roll with plenty of butter, one leaf of lettuce, and big chunks of lobster that weren’t drowning in mayo.  It was very good, but I can’t say it was the best I’ve had.

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The chowder was hearty and flavorful, but so creamy that I think we only had a few bites each.

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This is a good restaurant to satisfy a lot of different palates (they even have a gluten free menu now!) with gorgeous views and very good food. We really enjoyed ourselves here, and I’m sure that has a lot to do with the beautiful weather and views.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10