Monday, July 5, 2010

Fore Street: Return to an old Favorite

Having just sailed a boat up to Maine, I took the opportunity to visit my old friend Malinda (who was nice enough to pick me up in Camden and drive me to Portland). I was happy to repay her kindness by treating her to dinner at Fore Street, one of my favorite restaurants in the whole country. I always have a wonderful meal there. It is not always the most sophisticated cooking, and not everything I have eaten there is innovative or even interesting, but the overall welcome and feeling I get there, and the anticipation with which I walk through the door, is one I have hardly felt elsewhere...certainly not anyplace I have eaten comparably often (this last visit was probably about my 12th at Fore Street).

For a slender, attractive young woman, Malinda is an eater, and an excellent dining companion. After a round of drinks while waiting for our table (it was July 5 and the place was, predictably, packed) we took our seats in the dark, brick-walled dining space with its warm copper-topped tables. Malinda, being a somewhat frugal girl of Yankee origins, suggested splitting an appetizer but I was, of course, having none of that. Especially after I spotted the sampler platter of pates and terrines at the bottom of the appetizer list. Malinda and I agreed on the pork terrine, rabbit rillettes, and sweetbread sausage. All of these were sublime, especially the latter which was served in 4 small coins. We could have also had chicken liver mousse or smoked pork, which I will have to try another time. As a companion first course, Malinda ordered a lettuce and pea salad, which was OK, but I found it rather dull, somewhat underdressed, and completely unremarkable (an example of the occasional miss at this restaurant).

There were no misses with the main courses, however. We agreed to share the sauteed scallops (as good as scallops should be, and generously portion) and an absolutely wonderful halibut, which was a dense block of perfectly cooked, flaky yet meaty white fish served in a small iron skillet and with a complementary acidic sauce (some kind of vinaigrette, I am guessing, livened up with mustard and possibly lemon juice). We also had, as an adventurous note, a side dish of chard with bacon, which was wonderful, and most welcome as the halibut came completely unadorned and ungarnished except for the sauce.

For dessert, Malinda, bless her heart, is a fellow chocolate lover and we had both of the chocolate desserts on the menu...a chocolate torte (good....kind of mousse-like) and chocolate cake (wonderful...intensely chocolate). The cake came with a kind of nectarine sorbet and the mousse with vanilla ice cream, but we decided that they worked better with the other desserts and ended up switching them.

With dinner we drank a bottle of Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir from Oregon, which was clean and elegant. I might have wished for something a little richer and fuller-bodied, but I should have known better, having had many bottles from this producer.

With all of that the bill before tax was slightly under $200....not cheap by any means, but a meal that I can still savor two weeks later, and how do you put a price on that?

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