Friday, September 4, 2009

Fore Street

Our much needed vacation started with a drive to Freeport, Maine and a few productive hours in the outlet shops before we headed back to Portland for our much awaited dinner at Fore Street, perhaps our favorite restaurant in the US (or certainly in the top 5). Calling two weeks in advance, we could only get a reservation at 6 pm and that was before the recent NY Times and Bon Appetit articles heralding Portland as a great restaurant city.

In any case, 6:00 or not, we walked in to the restaurant with great anticipation and were greeted as usual very cordially and shown quickly to a fine table near the back overlooking the room and with a view of the harbor as well. Our personable and very professional server brought us menus and we set out to usual we had a very difficult time limiting ourselves to just one appetizer and main per person, so in this case we didn't.

To begin with Michael chose a simple salad of lettuce with pears and blue cheese, while I could not, as usual, resist the seared foie gras. In this case however it was delivered with two more or less equally sized little lobes of foie (about the size of your little finger, or mine anyhow) which made it ideal for sharing. Just a perfect couple of mouthfuls of rich goodness, while the salad was a light and fresh opener..not anything you couldn't make yourself at home given access to the right ingredients, but perfectly executed nonetheless.

As a shared third appetizer, we had the roasted tomato tart with goat cheese, which was wonderful...roasted tomatoes have such a rich and fulfilling flavor and seem very consistently satisfying, especially in this year of disappointing tomatoes.

To accompany the early courses, our server enthusiastically approved of my choice of a Trimbach Reserve Pinot Gris 2004, commenting that it was one of her favorite food wines. Michael could tell by my face after the first taste that it was not quite what I was in fact a bit more austere and less rich than I had expected or that we have experienced with many other Alsatian Pinots Gris. More like an Oregonian one, in fact, or maybe the Oregon ones are a better imitation of Trimbach.

In any case, the wine grew on us and it was indeed a very good foil for the food, not terribly assertive in its own right but a very low-key and complementary addition to the meal.

Having now taken off the initial hunger pangs, we eagerly awaited the arrival of our main courses. Michael had ordered the roast chicken, as he seems often to do, while I had opted for a special consisting of a roast leg of pork combined with shredded pork shoulder. Both were excellent, not terribly complex but very good. I compared the pork favorably to the similar version we had had at Sorellina in Boston over the Michael said this was "very porky" but he meant that in a good was full of taste and flavor without being excessively gamy or assertive. It just tasted the way it should, which I suppose is a good summation of the food at Fore Street.

Dessert was magnificent. Michael had a selection of sorbets while I had a kind of chocolate terrine that was simply of the richest, most chocolate-suffused desserts I have ever had. If it were possible to experience chocolate overload (which of course is not possible) this dish would have triggered it.

We left the restaurant very satisfied and very happy to be starting our holiday in Maine. As always, we did not feel that the food was the most innovative or most interesting that we have ever had, but the combination of impeccable ingredients, careful and unfussy preparation, professional service, and a warm, welcoming, and lively atmosphere made us recall why we try to eat at Fore Street whenever we pass through Portland.

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