Part 1 of 3
For our honeymoon, my husband and I traveled to Maine. Why? Maine was recommended for a cost-effective romantic retreat that could be traveled in a week’s time. Our journey definitely matched that description and created lasting memories.
Our first few nights were spent in Portland, Maine (which is where we flew into). As giddy newly-weds we crashed at a cheaper motel farther in from the water but we had a car so travel wasn’t an issue. The first night we walked down by the water, it was much colder than I had expected at night for September. We had dinner at a great pub with live music and tons of beer on tap. It was a Monday so there wasn’t a lot going on.
At Andy’s we really wanted a “Maine Experience” and asked the server what we just had to have (a common question I ask restaurant staff). We got a lobster roll with bacon and avocado, macaroni and cheese with hot dogs, and the fried poppin’ shrimp mixed with fried jalapenos. The server was awesome and gave some great suggestions of where we had to go and a synopsis of the town. Apparently the local population of Portland eats out more regularly than your average city, which makes the restaurant business a bit more competitive. It was not just building after building of touristy slop.
I like to do some research before I travel but while I am there I depend a lot on 3 things: recommendations, Yelp, and T.V. Food Maps. All signs pointed to The Great Lost Bear which was conveniently on our way to our hotel. The Great Lost Bear has over 60 beers on tap and a wonderful atmosphere to match. It reminded me a lot of Duluth, MN (where Erik and I met). Maine reminded me a lot of Napa but focused on beer not wine and 100% less pretentious… so nothing like Napa. But beer is everything and everywhere. Lots of micro-breweries and pubs everywhere and for someone in Minnesota who does not have access to most of these brands it was very fun. Again, we were met with hospitality which helped derive a plan for our second day in Maine.
The next morning we headed back into the “downtown” area of Portland. We walked up and down Congress Street doing a bit of shopping and drinking amazing coffee from the Speckled Ax. If you want a unique coffee experience, go there. They use the fancy machines below to produce a pour over coffee. I think just the amount of time one person spent on it made my coffee taste better.
There are tons of shops featuring local artists and vintage pieces to fill our morning. We didn’t eat breakfast because we were saving ourselves for something very specific that had been recommended to us several times since our arrival.
Nosh Kitchen Bar, also on Congress Street, has everything your favorite sandwich place has but with a twist. I think I could have spent weeks conquering their menu but we came for something specific. The Apocalypse Now Burger ::DUN:: DUN:: DUNNNNN:::
This burger patty: beef chuck, beef brisket, pork shoulder, house-cured bacon, garlic and rosemary. Accompanied with American cheese, crispy pork belly, foie gras (if you have an opinion about that I don’t really care), mayo, and cherry jam all sitting beautifully atop a brioche bun. HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES??? The burger is 20 dollars and worth every penny (my husband and I split it).
But wait, you cannot just have a burger. You must have fries. Not just any fries… no, no, no. Bacon dusted fries. And if you are picturing tiny bacon bits you must alter you vision. The fries are perfectly coated with a powdery happiness that tastes exactly like bacon; in general it may be witchcraft.
We shopped around closer to the bay while waiting for our brewery tour appointment and I had to stop at Standard Baking Co. It was mentioned in almost every blog or news story I had read before going to Portland, ME. Because I have not self-control I ordered a sweet warm brioche, a savory cheese fougasse, and a baguette. Every bite was pure happiness.
We headed up to the Allagash Brewery, which is 15 minutes from the downtown area. I have been on a lot of brewery tours and usually I am just looking forward to the samples at the end. Allagash serves you samples at the beginning! Genius. The staff were beyond friendly and made the tour intimate vs. feeling like another number.
It was not quite time for dinner so we headed back down to the Portland Lobster Co. for more drinks and appetizers. I am sure this is exactly what most tourists do but the atmosphere was awesome, the view was great, and there was live music. What more could you as for?
For dinner, we stumbled upon a delicious dinner at Vignola Cinque Terre. Italian is a weakness of mine- I could eat it for every meal (especially breakfast). I had the Rigatoni Bolognese, which was perfect because it was chilly outside. My husband had a pizza because that is what he eats. The restaurant can be perfect for a formal dinner or you could keep it casual and eat at the bar like we did.
We spent the rest of the night wandering around the different piers enjoying the crisp night.