The Porthole Restaurant – Maine eats on the waterfront

From Spoon: Ted became enamored of Portland’s waterfront restaurant, the Porthole, when he photographed the place for a Downeast Magazine story on Maine comfort food last year. Ever since, on our walks around the city, I’ve looked down the sketchy-looking alley at the restaurant’s rusting metal sign – which looks like it’s been hanging there since at least the 1950s – and wanted very much to go there. But it was never the right time of day, or the restaurant wasn’t open (it’s lunch and dinner 7-days-a-week in the summer, but only 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.  Thursday-Sunday in the off-season). Finally last weekend, the stars were aligned, and we stopped in for brunch.

The Porthole dates back to 1929, when it was a coffee shop catering to dock workers, according to Downeast food blogger John Golden, who wrote about it here. It has the feel of a place that time forgot, with creaky wood floors, a woodstove (no longer in use) and a view of the docks. And it’s still more of a local haunt than a tourist stop, although the visit from Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives has surely brought in the crowds.

We were disappointed that a couple of special menu items advertised on the blackboard weren’t available – me, the crab, asparagus and Boursin cheese frittata, Ted, the biscuits with sausage gravy.  But because it was late for Sunday brunch, we were not terribly surprised that some things were sold out. Our waitress was so friendly, and the vibe so warm and homey, we happily settled in with excellent Bloody Marys.

After a debate with myself about banana bread French toast, I ordered the Harbours Edge Omelet – lobster, spinach, and goat cheese with tomato and cilantro salad. The omelet itself was huge and a bit overcooked, although the flavor was good, and the tasty yet skimpy filling made me wonder if the kitchen was close to running out of these ingredients as well. The accompanying homefries were nicely crispy and bolstered by the addition of sweet potato. Ted was happy with his brisket hash, topped with two perfectly poached eggs and served with the same delicious homefries. It’s one of the Porthole’s signature dishes, and was featured in the “Triple-D” episode.

OK,so the iPhone photo is not very good - but the food was awesome

It was a happy ending to another fun weekend in our “second home,” and we’re looking forward to the next time.

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