Making our way through our yearly ‘Best of’ posts, today we’re recapping some of our most memorable meals and restaurant experiences from 2017. Hopefully this list will come in handy for any future food-centric trips you all might be planning! ma
Drifter’s Wife – Portland, Maine
I think that Michael and I would both agree that our favorite meal of the entire year was on a completely unplanned night out at Drifter’s Wife. We ordered the menu (it’s easy to do with two selections of each course), paired it with Maine & Loire’s perfectly selected wines, and
shared fought over every last bite of each dish. I’m finding myself at a loss for words in describing how happy we were with that evening, and can’t wait to see what the new space is like in the new year.
The Well at Jordan’s Farm – Cape Elizabeth, Maine
No ‘best of’ list on Map & Menu would be complete without mentioning our favorite place to dine in the summer – The Well at Jordan’s Farm. We were able to eat a handful of delicious meals on the picnic tables at the farm in Cape Elizabeth this year and even finally got around to trying the Chef’s tasting menu for Michael’s father’s birthday. We’re already counting down the days until they open up for the season in June.
Chaval – Portland, Maine
It’s easiest to create this list based on the places we visited the most this past year, and if you asked either of us which restaurant was our favorite with that in mind, there’d be no hesitation at all – Chaval. The new Spanish and French-inspired restaurant, from two of our favorite restaurant owners in town, has delivered time and time and time again. We love it for special occasions, and we love it for casual evenings out. Now, we even love it for its new brunch menu… I think it’s safe to say that we just plain love it.
Scratch Baking Co. – South Portland, Maine
If you thought this list wouldn’t include Scratch Baking, you’d be sadly mistaken. Bagels, pimiento cheese, cookies, poptarts, and sandwiches – no one does them better. We can’t imagine our neighborhood without Scratch, and feel so lucky to get to visit it as often (and I mean often) as we do.
Belleville – Portland, Maine
This newcomer to the East End serves up delicious French pastries, Roman-style pizza, and cookies in a gorgeous light-filled space. If Belleville were a little closer to home, Michael would probably try to make it his new office.
Scales – Portland, Maine
Those scallops. Scales does all of their seafood well, but they absolutely make dreams come true with those scallops. Seriously, stop reading this and go treat yourself.
Baharat – Portland, Maine
We visited Baharat only once this year, but having ordered the All-In for 2 (a tray filled with a variety of kebabs, mezze, spreads, pickles, and Flatbread) plus a few sides, we were able to get a great sense of the menu during that visit and have been wanting to return ever since.
Izakaya Minato – Portland, Maine
Japanese comfort food at its finest. The Japanese fried chicken and kinoko salad are two of our favorites at Minato, but there’s a little bit of everything on the menu, so go with friends, order a bunch, and try it all.
The Honey Paw – Portland, Maine
It’s sometimes funny to see the wait at Eventide, when you can walk right in next door at The Honey Paw – their lesser known, but just as delicious sister restaurant. Michael and I love grabbing a seat in front of the window, or sitting outside with Orvis on a sunny day, and even took Michael’s father here when he visited this past summer for what he calls “some of the best cake I’ve ever had” – that’s something coming from an old southerner like him.
Tinder Hearth – Brooksville, Maine
The fact that there’s delicious wood fired pizza to be had a few hours north of Portland, behind a large farmhouse, in one of the quieter areas of coastal Maine, is pretty unique in and of itself. However the memory of enjoying an evening with good friends, over pizza and wine, from the picnic tables on the property is what firmly seats Tinder Hearth on this year’s list.
Boulangerie – Kennebunk, Maine
Possibly our guiltiest of somewhat-regular, mid-week pleasures this past spring and summer was waking up early and making the 45 minute drive to Boulangerie for a ham and cheese croissant and a raspberry danish, before taking Orvis to the beach to play.
Chef & the Farmer – Kinston, North Carolina
Rarely do we find ourselves in Eastern North Carolina anymore, so when plans came together for a work trip to New Bern this summer, I immediately made a counter reservation for 1 at Vivian Howard’s famed Kinston restaurant. I had prime seats to watch the chefs at work and they had a prime view of me devouring an impressive helping of the jalapeno skillet cornbread.
Sally’s Apizza – New Haven, Connecticut
We took to Instagram for advice on which New Haven pizzerias to try during our weekend on campus, and although we ended up devouring a late night pizza from Modern in our hotel room, the two pies from Sally’s we sampled during a picnic outside with Orvis were our clear favorites. Who knew a pizza without cheese could top my list as a favorite?
Sea Swirl – Mystic, Connecticut
We came for the famous fried clams, but what really got us excited were the fish tacos at this classic seafood shack right in the heart of Mystic. Washing it all down with a cone of soft-serve only made a summer lunch at Sea Swirl that much more delicious.
Ada’s Kitchen + Coffee – Greenwich, Connecticut
If I ever travel through Greenwich again, a stop at Ada’s Kitchen will be the first one I make in town. The breakfast sandwich (bacon, runny egg, cheddar, and chipotle mayo on ciabatta) at this charming cafe in Riverside has been on my mind many breakfasts since my fall trip to Fairfield County.
Polpo – London, England
Hands-down, our favorite meal in London was our lunch at Polpo, a Venetian style restaurant with locations throughout London and beyond. While the pizza and meatballs were hard to beat, the real show-stopper was our dessert – the Nutella pizza and the Aperol sorbet.
Brassica – Beaminster, England
I’ll admit, I ended up making our reservation at Brassica because I was drawn to the design of the restaurant’s interior, but our lunch at Brassica ended up being one of our favorite meals from our entire trip to England. The bruschetta, with its fresh tomatoes, radishes, and shaved pecorino, has set impossibly high standards for all bruschette to follow. My basil and walnut pesto orecchiette was the perfect light, springtime dish, while Michael’s veal rump steak with black garlic and chips left him smiling from ear to ear.
Star & Garter – Falmouth, England
With fantastic views of the boat-dotted Falmouth harbor, Star & Garter serves a delicious, elevated take on pub food. Our favorites were the shaved pecorino served with honey (from our beekeeping waitress), the radishes, and the duck salt chips.
Idle Rocks Restaurant – St. Mawes, England
Course after delicious course of our dinner at the Idle Rocks restaurant continued to blow us away. While I still dream of the tomato-basil arancini (pictured below), the views of St. Mawes harbor from our seaside table in the impeccably designed dining room were almost just as memorable as the food itself.
Talbot Inn – Mells, England
The main reason that we couldn’t pass on a night at The Talbot Inn was its emphasis on the food. The “country pub” at The Talbot Inn is unlike most of the pubs we’ve experienced in the UK. Sure, part of it felt like a pub, with well-worn bar stools, low ceilings, and cozy nooks, but the food was simply outstanding – most of the ingredients are sourced locally and nearly everything is made in-house, in the most thoughtful of preparations. Whether it’s the impressively stacked Talbot Burger that catches your eye, as it did mine, or the 42 day aged steak that caught Michael’s, the beer definitely plays second fiddle at this pub.
Photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.