31 October 2010

1st Anniversary Road-trip Day 6

Unfortunately Day 6 wasn’t nearly as awesome as Day 5. Our day began with yet another lovely complimentary breakfast in the sun room of our B&B. This time around the menu featured fresh pear juice served in a glass with a sugared rim and smoked salmon eggs benedict served with asparagus and fresh fruit.

Nice rimjob
Pretty colors

As sad as we were to leave Canada, our next destination was Portland, ME, but not without a stop in Wiscasset first. There’s only one reason foodies go out of their way to visit Wiscasset, ME and that reason is Red’s Eats. The drive was quite lovely until about 30 minutes prior to Wiscasset when we encountered torrential downpour, the likes of which I hadn’t seen in quite a while. Since it wasn’t quite rush hour yet, the notorious bridge traffic wasn’t really an issue and we pulled right onto Water Street and snagged a spot a few short blocks away. Even in torrential downpour on a Wednesday afternoon there was still a line at Red’s Eats. Considering all of the publicity it has garnered in the past, I wasn’t really surprised.

Golden shower
Hmmm, we'll see about that
We ordered a lobster roll with both hot butter and mayo on the side, onion rings, and French fries. Running back to the car while juggling the food and our huge umbrella was a classically frustrating experience. We carefully unwrapped everything and attempted to season everything properly with those little breakable packets of salt and pepper.

Pepper fail
Too much of a good thing?
Hell no!
As you can tell by the picture a packet of pepper exploded all over the onion rings. Luckily, I love pepper. Now, was I blown away by my first lobster roll experience? No, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. As expected it was packed with a crapload of sweet slightly tough lobster. The first stage of tackling this monster involved using a fork to dunk the huge chunks into the melted butter, which was quite enjoyable. Honestly, I forgot about the mayo as I dove into the roll itself. This was my first split-top bun and it was nicely toasted with a subtle wheat flavor to it. This was also my first taste of genuine Maine lobster.

This ain't the first time my lap has been filled with the bounty of the sea
Red’s claim to fame is the sheer volume of lobster they manage to cram into one roll, but I’d read from numerous sources that, while abundant, it was more often than not tough. Such was the case here. But, as I said before, it had a great sweetness to it that really had me questioning my so-so opinion about lobster in general. I liked the onion rings, but by the time we got to the car they'd steamed themselves to softness, obliterating any crunch they may have once had. The fries were your typical fry, reminiscent of McD’s.

After leaving Red’s we did hit a little traffic getting into Portland, but luckily by the time we checked into our hotel the downpour had subsided to a light misting. We marveled at the view of the bay from the huge wall-to-wall window in our room and decided we should hit the hotel gym for some cardio before heading out for dinner. 30 minutes on the treadmill and I was all set for dinner. After walking around town, checking out some menus we decided to try Fore Street. Voted by numerous publications (google it, I’m not in the linking mood!) as the best restaurant in Portland I had fairly high hopes.

Replace "Street" with "Skin"
Why do you all hate me?
Psh, show offs
Immediately upon entering I noticed that the front of the house staff was older than expected. Not old, mind you, just older and after interacting with a few of them I couldn’t help notice an air of pretentiousness about them. It was like they saw that we were younger than most of the clientele meaning we didn’t have as much money and wrote us off as not worth their time. Luckily our waitress was nice if a bit inattentive. We both thought she looked and spoke like Marcy D'arcy. What I did like about the place was the soothing décor and the open kitchen which was the centerpiece of the dining room.

Fore Street is one of those restaurants that refuses to post a menu online. I hate that, so here's the entire menu for your viewing pleasure:

That in and of itself should’ve deterred me from going there, but I couldn’t ignore all of the great reviews I’d read online. Needless to say I spent a lot of time perusing the menu, ensuring no dish went unnoticed. I decided I wanted to take yet another plunge and give oysters another shot so I ordered the Nonesuch River, Mill Cove, and Bagaduce River Oysters to start. As for my main, it came down to two dishes: the Pan Roasted Atlantic Scallops with golden beet and horseradish puree and pistachio herb celery gemolata and the Wood Grilled Atlantic Swordfish with corn and russian boar bacon risotto. The Mrs. knew what she wanted. Her craving for a good steak hadn’t been sated at LBP so as soon as she saw the Wood Grilled Ribeye with carola potato and horseradish puree she settled on that. Finally, after much debate, I settled on the scallops, as I just couldn't ignore my love for beets and pistachios, But goddamn boar bacon risotto sounded good. Unfortunately, as you will see in a moment, I chose... poorly. We also went with a side of broccoli with stone ground mustard vinaigrette and garden carrots with scallion hazelnut butter.

Hmm, nothing really funny about bread, I mean, it's fucking bread
Slathered, salted, peppered
I will start by saying that the complimentary bread was great, and bonus points were awarded for the dishes of freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt. The butter was nicely whipped and spreadable while the bread itself had a great chew to it with an airy density and large hole structure. Apparently the waitress completely forgot my oysters because the next thing to hit our table was our entrées. I didn't mention the oysters as I had a gorgeous plate of scallops placed in front of me:

Someone sneezed on my scallops!
These were without a doubt the biggest scallops I've ever been served and they would've been great... had they been cleaned properly. Three of the four scallops served were extremely gritty, which at a restaurant of this caliber is simply inexcusable. Maybe the prep cooks in the open air kitchen should stop showing off for the crowd and pay attention to what the hell they’re doing? Just a thought. I was tempted to take my dish into the bathroom to wash the scallops because the rest of the plate was great. Well, pretty much anything involving pistachios in my book gets the thumbs up, and frankly I have no idea what a gremolata is so I really don't feel qualified to critique it. The worst part of the meal was that I couldn't help but notice the woman next to me ordered the swordfish and swooned over every bite. She never realized just how close she came to losing her life that night.  Cherish every moments friends, for they may be your last.

She orders the ribeye, I order the scallops.  Is it obvious who wears the pants in this relationship?

Carrots complete with fancy carrot tongs
I've had better broccoli at the china buffet across the street
The wife's ribeye was perfectly cooked to her requested medium with a strong flavorful sear on the outside. It paired well with the horseradish puree, as expected, and the au jus pooling on the plate only served to heighten the already profoundly meaty goodness. Both the carrots and the broccoli were served al dente just we like them, but they both lacked proper seasoning. Once again the provided pepper and sea salt saved the day. I loved the pairing of hazelnut and carrot, but we both felt that the broccoli was kind of blah with the mustard vinaigrette not having much presence.

I was already set on ordering dessert after seeing the Zucchini Bread French Toast with sheep's milk ricotta butter cream sauce and lemon thyme ice cream and apparently a cappuccino that I have absolutely no recollection of.  As the Mrs. always saves room for dessert she went with the Warm Chocolate and Espresso Steamed Pudding Cake with cardamom toffee candy and chocolate sorbet.  The fact that their dishes are so ridiculously named really gets on my nerves, especially after having to type them all out like this. Get over yourself Fore Street. I'm sorry, but you ain't all that, ya dig?

Someone shit on the desserts.
I drank this...?
I thought the presentation of both desserts was kind of utilitarian and lacked inspiration. Scoop, plop, sauce, sprinkle, serve. Both desserts were all well and good and fine and nice. I thought the use of zucchini bread to make french toast was clever, but otherwise read the descriptions, imagine the flavors, and there you go. Nothing really extraordinary... with one exception: the cardamom toffee candy. I almost pillaged the kitchen in search of the dragon's hoard that I know they're keeping for themselves, the bastards. My axe would fall, heads would roll, and I would feast in gluttonous glory at the peak of the mountain of corpses.

That's it, day 6 is in the books. Last night was Halloween and I was Bob Ross. I proved to be a very popular guy around town. Good times.  The wife was Robin, her best friend was Batgirl, and yet another friend was Cat Woman.  How original.

Bob Ross
Our powers combine to form Blobbin.

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Nakiya @ Taste of Baltimore said...

Great recap! My husband and I went to Maine for our anniversary trip as well and of course stopped by Red's. That was a LOT of lobster, I agree. We also looked into Fore Street but decided it was a bit too expensive and went elsewhere......reading your review, I'm glad we did!

Mr. Micro said...

Yeah, I definitely wish we would've gone to Bresca. We'll definitely check it out next time we visit.

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