Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Portland, Day 4 (The Great Portland Hike)

Wednesday mornings there is a big farmer's market in Monument Square in downtown Portland. Although we would be unable to buy a bunch of produce (one of our favorite things to do) we took the walk downtown to check it out.

We stopped by Arabica to get some toast that we'd spied on our first day in Portland. There was a regular variety and a rye cranberry orange variety that were both slathered with butter and excellent. After breakfast we ransacked the $1.00 book bin outside a bookstore leaving them with precious little remaining bad science fiction books and Arthurian texts. I'll leave it to you to decide which of us bought which genre.

Then we walked back through Monument Square where I took a picture of this statue. I wouldn't have bothered mentioning it but there was some guy who thought he was in the picture who kept lifting up his shirt because wouldn't it be hilarious if that was in my picture? Then as we passed he yelled, "Don't let it fool you, this city sucks!"

I see great things in this man's future.

After walking around a bit more we walked over to grab lunch at a place called The Front Room. This happened to be recommended by two of our Portland recommendation sources and just happened to be where we'd ended up, hungry and weary in the middle of our walk. Our recommendation givers are awesome. I hope they someday join forces to make an iPhone app to recommend Portland restaurants.

At The Front Room I got the salmon pastrami on black bread with capers, grain mustard, red onion and sour cream.

Jen ordered the fish chowder. Both were outstanding. I'm really glad we stumbled on this place and have moved over to my Portland recommendations. If you're at or around the East Promenade you should definitely check it out. Also they have a table and a chair in the bathroom so you can hang out in there and have a coffee after your meal if you so choose.

After lunch we headed down to check out the East Promenade with a little more attention before heading back through the city. We stopped off at the Shipyard Brewing Company to buy some beer and souvenirs before heading home. All told we walked about seven miles and were primed for what has become our regular mid afternoon vacation nap.

After our nap we headed out to The Great Lost Bear where we enjoyed a pair of Maine beers: the Sebago Runabout Red ale and the Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat Ale. Jen had the latter and I suspect that even with all the other merits of this stop Jen's father will be greatly disappointed in this choice.

Then, because we're losers, we followed the recommendation of someone on Foursquare who recommended we get the teriyaki mushrooms. This is something we would have never chosen otherwise but we followed the recommendation and they were great. Thanks, dude on Foursquare!

After drinks we headed to Bar Lola. Sadly we only realized how great the dinner options were after arriving or we would not have spoiled our appetite. They had a great prix fixe menu but we just ordered a few items off the regular menu and went with that.

We started with the applewood smoked duck breast with Morse's sauerkraut and mustard cream. These three tiny slices of meat were possibly the best duck I've ever had in my life.

Next we had the picked, fresh, and duckfat sauteed radishes with butter and sea salt. Jen, who thought I was crazy for wanting to order this, said that this was one of the best dishes she'd had all week. My mother, who is suspicious of radishes, would probably respectfully remain skeptical.

Later we shared Maine steamers with butter, bacon, and fresh oregano. Having grown up with steamers at every backyard cookout throughout my youth I think this was the first time I've ever had them where they weren't simply boiled and served with drawn butter. It was a novel experience and they were delicious but it seemed oddly foreign to me. Sort of like having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on artisanal caraway seed bread.

We also split the orecchiette with olive oil, pangritata and Portuguese sardines.

Our main course was the diver scallops with tarragon and lemon infused Israeli couscous. Everything about this was fantastic. We were drawn to this dish immediately even though we both have a mutually lukewarm feeling about tarragon. It paid off but by this time I could barely eat anything.

By this point I was done and Jen was on her own to enjoy the fresh cherry and rum clafoutis. She claims it was delicious even though she dislikes rum immensely.

Bar Lola is incredible. It's got a really nice menu, it's extremely inexpensive, and they have great prix fixe options that we did not partake in. My advice is this: do not eat a bunch of stuff before going there like we stupidly did. You'll be able to more fully enjoy their menu and you won't have to lie in your hotel room grabbing your belly and moaning like a dying banshee which has been stuck with a skewer.

That's all metaphorical, of course.


Lisa Marie said...

Not enough bathrooms have chairs in them these days. There used to be a couch in the bathroom at my work. When they got rid of it during renovations, I was livid.

Unknown said...

Did you enjoy hanging out in there?

Lisa Marie said...

I did. It was a nice couch.

Lisa Marie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Did the other users of the bathroom find it awkward when they walked in and saw you there?