Birthday Dinner at Fore Street
One of my favorite restaurants I’ve ever tried is Fore Street in Portland, Maine. I’ve blogged about our summer visits there, including here, here and here. Fore Street’s menu changes all the time but you never have to worry about that – there is pretty much always going to be so many wonderful options on it that I have a hard time choosing. They focus on fresh seasonal ingredients including Maine seafood and meat and game from the northeast. And no matter what they are serving, I always know that I am going to be well taken care of.
So, when we decided we would be in Maine for my birthday, my husband took action and made reservations well ahead of time, knowing the restaurant would be busy over Labor Day weekend. He made the reservation at 6:00 figuring that would give us plenty of time to get there from the 5:30 ferry from Peaks Island. The ferry trip is only about 15 minutes and the restaurant is just up the street, across from the dock. We sat around on Sunday afternoon just dreaming about our meal that night, wondering what would be on the menu and what we would choose. We were leisurely getting ready to go when a neighbor stopped by to wish me a happy birthday and said 5:30? There’s no 5:30 ferry. There is a 5:00 and a 6:00.
It was 4:50 at the time and my husband was still in a towel and shaving cream. I hadn’t done my hair yet. There was no way we were making the 5:00. But! It was Sunday. On Sunday there is a reggae party at Jones’ Landing and sometimes there are extra ferries to cart the revelers back off the island. We pulled ourselves together as quick as possible and as we drove down to the dock we saw a ferry leaving. And we saw another one further away down the bay. There was an extra ferry and we missed that one too! Dagnabbit. We called Fore Street, explained our plight to their voicemail and hoped for the best. We walked over to the Inn on Peaks Island and had a beverage while we waited for the 6:00 ferry. While there, we developed a game plan.
We’d sit on the bottom level of the ferry, close to the exit. And, despite the birthday, I was still the youngest, so I would sprint off the boat, elbows out to get ahead of other travelers. (Okay, just kidding on the elbows.) Our friend Kenny who was joining us would follow behind at a slower pace to protect his knees and my husband would keep him company and have a cigarette on the way. So, yeah, the game plan pretty much was that I had to make a run for it on my own birthday. Some plan!
We walked down to the ferry dock early and eventually there was a huge crush of people waiting to get off the island, many of whom were feeling quite happy from the reggae party! We managed to get on the boat though and get seats where we wanted them and the fun part was it never occurred to many of the revelers that you don’t get off the same end of the ferry you get on. I practically had the exit to myself, bwah-ha-ha, watch those elbows!
I dashed off the ferry, far ahead of Kenny and my husband and scooted down the dock, sucking on my inhaler along the way. There are a lot of stairs up to the restaurant, but I was ready! I pretended I was Rocky, took the stairs two at a time and made it to the top in record time (special records category for 39-year-old female non-athletes.) I dashed into the restaurant and made my way to the hostess stand. I said who I was, explained our plight, and asked if they saved our table. Annnnnd……
They did! In fact, they were ready to seat us before the menfolk got in the door. My birthday was saved! Was it worth all the anxiety, drama and cardio work-out? But of course.
Perhaps I was still a little bit out of breath when I took this slightly blurry photo of my appetizer – Chilled Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Maine Jonah Crabmeat & Horseradish and Celery Cream. Here’s the thing – usually, I really don’t care for chilled soups. I’ve tried gazpachos before and felt like I was eating thin salsa with a spoon out of the jar. But, I trust Fore Street and something about this dish called to me so I ordered it anyway. My instincts were right – it turned out to be the absolute highlight of the meal. The gazpacho itself tasted incredibly fresh and not overly acidic. I didn’t detect any particularly salsa- like flavors either. My big attraction though was probably the Jonah crab meat, which I had never tried before. It tasted sweet and fresh and was a perfect accompaniment to the gazpacho. Love!
My husband played it safe with the Wood Oven Roasted Mussels with Garlic Almond Butter. He enjoyed them, but he couldn’t help but compare them to the even better ones he had at Cinque Terre in July, right down the street.
Kenny was the true brave soul with the Pan Fried Maine Farm Rabbit Livers with Sweet Pepper Puree and Brown Butter Radishes. He couldn’t say enough about them so, if you like that kind of thing, there you go. Hmm. Yeah. That’s all I have to say about that.
Here’s my delightful entree, the Atlantic Summer Flounder Filet with Wax Beans and Whole Grain Mustard and Herb Vinaigrette. It was tender yet crisp on the outside and I loved the wax beans even though I hate wax beans and well, I guess that’s the first time I’ve tried them since those scary things out of a can when I was kid.
Apparently, I either didn’t take pictures or they didn’t come out of my husband’s and Kenny’s entree’s. My husband had the duck and although he loved it, every time he goes to Fore Street he orders the duck in hopes it will be just as good as the duck he had the very first time we ever went there in 2006. They never do seem to prepare it the same way though. It’s a hardship, you know, trying all that duck every time he goes there but it’s something he’ll just have to keep doing! Kenny had the swordfish and he was pleased.
And, awwww, lookee there! That’s the way to finish my birthday right – Happy Birthday spelled in chocolate sauce with Creme Caramel, Black Cherry Port Gelato, and Port-Soaked Black Cherries with caramelized cocoa nibs.
And we even made the 9:15 ferry back to the island and didn’t have to charge through any masses of tourists to do it. All is well that ends well!