Awhile back, while having dinner with a friend at Hugo’s, I couldn’t help but have my attention constantly wander to a scene I could see from our window seat. Over the course of a few hours, in the old Rabelais storefront next door, an artist meticulously hand-lettered a name onto the window. The deliberate speed and patience of the artist, and the fact that the owner of this new mystery location had even felt the need to chose the hand-lettered route over a quick decal, was more than enough to thoroughly pique my curiosity. After dinner, I made sure to take a look at the final product, and took note to keep an eye on Eventide Oyster Co.
For visitors to Portland, it would be easy to miss the single city block of Middle Street between India and Franklin, slightly outside of the Old Port but not quite the East End, and for foodie travelers, that oversight would cause you to miss some of the best dining our town has to offer. Similarly to the way that Longfellow Square has become a concentrated center for the tasty, with Petite Jacqueline, Boda, Local 188, and Pai Men Miyake (all practically door to door), this block of Middle is a densely-populated mecca to the tingling tastebuds. Hugo’s, Duckfat, Ribollita, The East Ender, The Pepper Club, and the newest addition, Eventide Oyster Co., all make the trip to this side of Middle Street well worth the extra steps.
We kept our eye on Eventide, but due to our crazy summer schedule, it took us way too long to finally make it over to try it out – even with all of the great things we were hearing. Then, a few weeks ago, we found ourselves on the front-end of an open Saturday afternoon and decided to start it off with something new. The detail that originally drew me to Eventide didn’t stop at the front windows. Every part of the restaurant, from the thick stone bar, to the picnic tables, to the chalkboard menu just seems to work. Meredith and I are always talking about the dining “experience”, and from the moment I entered the door at Eventide, I was in the mindset for oysters.
We grabbed a seat at the window (in front of the sign that kicked this whole thing off), and quickly placed an order for the homemade biscuits and an Oxbow Farmhouse Pale Ale. You may wonder who would start a meal with biscuits, but trust us, it’s the right decision. Meredith, looking for something a little warmer, ordered the Lobster Stew and I chose a half dozen Maine oysters- the North Haven, the Pemaquid Point, and the Flying Point. As an aside, thinking back to that night at Hugo’s, I realize now that this Eventide meal was a little more fated than I had previously thought – Eventide is a sister restaurant of sorts to Hugo’s, and I’m almost certain that one of our courses that evening was the same delectable homemade biscuit and Pemaquid Point oyster that I was now enjoying. Were we the guinea pigs that evening for the eventual menu next door? Regardless, the oysters were unbelievable… fresh, tasty, and harvested from less than a few hours up the road. It being a Saturday, and with our belief that the calories from dessert don’t count on any day, we splurged and ordered a slice of the Apple Pie and an Ice Cream Sandwich, and devoured the rest of our meal with grins on our faces that stretched from ear to ear.
I couldn’t be happier that we finally had the chance to experience Eventide Oyster Co., and I’m looking forward to showing it off to visiting friends and family as another pearl of the Portland food scene.
Portland, Maine 04101