It’s no secret that I love Maine. I first went in the summer of 2012 and haven’t missed a year since. If I ever decide to move out of New York, you can bet that’s where I’m headed. I’ll be the one running a pie shop out of an airstream trailer. Until then though, I’m just biding my time between road trips.
This past weekend, I took an early bus up to Boston, met up with my little sister, Eliot, and rented a car. The plan was to drive up to our AirBNB in Portland, see what was happening there, and then take our time driving down the coastal highway back to Boston. When it comes to vacation, we do best without structure, so our only concrete plan was to eat as much great food as we could. I am here to tell you that we succeeded.
Unlike my usual trips, which are during the summer and up to an island with no restaurants or grocery stores, this trip was just days after a huge snowfall. Lots of things were shuttered until April, so in terms of finding things to do (and more importantly, things to eat), we just had to go with the flow. Here’s what we did.
Dinner: Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, Maine
We were only going to be on vacation for 24 hours, so we planned for our Friday night dinner to be our “big” meal. After scanning Yelp, we settled on Eventide Oyster Co. We ventured over around 8pm without a reservation. The place was packed, but the hostess was super friendly and gave us a place to stand and order drinks (a cider for her, a root beer for me). She said it would be about 45 minutes, but we got a table in thirty! Eventide specializes in small plates of fresh seafood (all local, of course) and recommends two per person. We ordered the Lobster Ceviche, Scallop Crudo, Fried Pollock, and Clam Chowder. Everything was great, but we both agreed that the Scallop Crudo and Fried Pollock were our favorites. I will say that both of us were too full for dessert after sharing four plates, so you might consider starting with three and adding another as necessary. After tax and tip, we got out of there for $70–not bad! If we’re ever back in Portland (and let’s be real, we will be back), we’ll definitely go to Eventide again.
Breakfast: Coffee by Design in Portland, Maine
We got up early on Saturday morning, checked out of our AirBNB and went in search of coffee. We landed at Coffee by Design, a chain that started at the L.L. Bean flagship. We were greeted by a friendly barista who took us through the pastries they had to offer and gave us tips on where to find parking (hint: there is none). We got two large coffees, a sausage & goat cheese scone, and a potato-based chocolate cake doughnut from The Holy Donut. The scone was insane, as all things with breakfast sausage and goat cheese ought to be. I’ll be recreating it soon! The doughnut was good, but did have a distinct potato flavor that overshadowed the chocolate. A doughnut is a doughnut though, and neither of us had any issue finishing it.
Snack: The Standard Baking Co. in Portland, Maine
After breakfast, we found some parking near the water and decided to do a little looking around. We ended up in K. Collette, a high-end home goods store, where my sister bought the embroidered buffalo pillow of her dreams. While we were checking out, we got to talking with the cashier. It quickly came up that I am a baker, and she said we just had to get to The Standard Baking Co. down the block. It’s set back from the street behind a hotel parking lot, so if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it. That would be a shame. They specialize more in bread than sweets, but we made it out of there with an Apricot Galette and a Raspberry-Almond Galette. They’re made with a shortbread dough and filled with homemade preserves–perfect road snacks. The Standard Baking Co. was our last stop in Portland before we got on the coastal highway and headed south. Our buttery galettes were the perfect treat after our side trip to Cape Elizabeth. You can tell Eliot was into the Apricot version.
Lunch: The Ramp Bar & Grill in Cape Porpoise, Maine
No trip to Maine is complete without a lobster roll, and after a couple of side trips to Biddeford and a seasonally-abandoned Old Orchard Beach and a lot of shenanigans, we were starving for one. We got off the highway in Kennebunkport hoping that literally anything was open. Just as we were hitting the end of the line and about to give up, we found the The Ramp Bar & Grill. It’s situated on Cape Porpoise and has an amazing view of the water. The restaurant is tiny and is covered top-to-bottom with New England sports and political memorabilia. We settled in among the year-round locals and ordered our lobster rolls. They came with housemade potato chips and a dill pickle, and were just what we needed to get through the rest of our trip. The lobster was tossed with butter and mayonnaise and served in a toasted bun–no surprises here. Neither of us care for mayonnaise, but we make an exception for lobster rolls.
After lunch, we destroyed some perfectly beautiful untouched snow across from the public school in Kennebunkport and drove around a Franciscan Monastery between Kennebunk and Wells before getting back on I-95 and heading back to Boston. It was a quick trip, to be sure, but it was just right: uninterrupted sister time and lots of great food. If you ever find yourself in coastal Maine for 24 hours, this is the way to eat your way through it.