The “culinary boom” in Portland this story tells about really began in the 1980s and probably earlier. Sometimes it takes a while to build a boom that people from away notice. — Keith
PORTLAND — There was a line of people waiting to nab a precious seat and a basket of fries at Duckfat. At Eventide, a handsome, square-jawed photographer from Travel + Leisure magazine shot lobster rolls as the lunch crowd slurped oysters. Later that night, there wasn’t a seat to be found at Central Provisions as diners grazed on small plates of bluefin tuna crudo.
This is what it looks like when a small city becomes an innovative and nationally recognized hub of cuisine. You can finish lunch feeling like an over-stuffed throw pillow, but walk a few yards, and you spot a shop that sells doughnuts topped with vanilla glaze and sea salt. I dare you to pass by and not try a bite. That one bite then turns into a sweet potato doughnut, which naturally leads to gelato.
Why did I leave those poly-blend slacks with the elastic waistband at home?
“We have a lot of people coming in asking where they should go to eat,” said Johanna Corman, an owner of the recently opened soda bar Vena’s Fizz House in Old Port. “I don’t know what to tell them. How do you pick just one?”
That’s easy: You don’t. Portland is a gastro-tourism paradise. Set aside as many days as you can and stuff yourself silly. Before I could cram another heirloom tomato salad in my maw, the person sitting next to me was telling me that I must try the pizza at Slab or the wood-roasted clams at Lolita Vinoteca + Asador.
Read more of this story by Christopher Muther in The Boston Globe.