There might as well be a wormhole connecting the two Portlands they have so much in common. The name, of course, means that each is a working port city, the Eastern one on the edge of a large bay, its Western namesake on a river.
Dimillo's Floating Restaurant.
Though the older city, founded in 1786, has just one-tenth the population of our much younger one, 62,875 to 582,130, each seems to attract people interested in quality of life over quantity of consumption. Mostly socially liberal with a whiff of a provincial air in their attitudes about outsiders, both are hotbeds for microroasted coffee and microbrewed beer, with a thriving local food culture.
Dave is a proud (former) Mainer, though Portland is considered a little too influenced by southern ways for people from The County, his ancestral homeland. We stayed in a brand new (and very comfortable) Marriott Residence Inn on the edge of the historic Old Port district, home to the aforementioned brewpubs and roasteries, as well as many terrific restaurants and locally owned shops.
Our first night was dedicated to the consumption of martinis and as much lobster as we could get our hands on, and I'd heard great things about the view from the dining room of DiMillo's. Situated in a converted car ferry and floating at the end of a pier below the Old Port (above left), it's a bit of a tourist attraction but one that was perfect for our needs that evening.
One lobster down, one to go.
We arrived to find that not only did they make a mighty fine martini in their main level wood-and-brass bar, they were offering a dinner special of two whole lobsters (steamed, stuffed or baked) for $19, including sides which, surprise surprise, was snapped up by almost everyone at the table. Their wine list tended, as you might expect, toward cabernet and merlot, but they also had bottles of Perrin Reserve, a perfectly decent Cotes du Rhone, that I snapped up for a very reasonable price.
Truth be told, the other offerings on the menu are decent to really good, but well worth going to for the view and the lobster, especially if you've got a pretty accommodating crew (the best kind, imho). The crab cakes were a tad flabby, the aioli less than fiery, but the steamers were perfect as were the lobsters. My best advice would be "stick to the classics, no frou-frou," good counsel in any situation.
Details: DiMillo's Floating Restaurant, 25 Long Wharf, Portland, ME. Phone 207-772-2216.
Read the other installments in the series: Dinner and a Show, Breakfast and Lunch, Loosening Up, Puttering Around the Old Port, Shackin' It and Fore Star.