Earlier this year, Keith and I took a mini-vacation up to Maine for a long weekend. We stayed at a B+B in Ogunquit and made the rounds to the area restaurants we had read or heard were not-to-be-missed. While we squeezed in as many stops as possible (555, Arrows, Duck Fat, Fore Street, MC Perkins Cove) there are only so many meals in a day. We knew more trips would have to be made in order to hit the other spots on our list, so when we were driving back from the lake we decided to detour into Portland for dinner at Street and Co.
A part of Fore Street’s “family of restaurants,” Street and Co. focuses almost exclusively on fresh fish and seafood and is located on Wharf Street, a cobblestoned pedestrian-only stretch of the Old Port that’s lined with boutiques and places to eat. Even though it was early on a weekday evening, the restaurants all seemed very busy; in fact, there was over an hour’s wait for indoor dining at Street and Co. Keith and I lucked out though — we just so happened to walk in as a couple was finishing up their meal at the bar, so after a brief wait we were able to sit down and go through the menu.
We decided that we would share a bite-sized tapa of sorts, along with an appetizer, before ordering our entrées. For our first course, Keith and I chose a small plate consisting of a dollop of soft goat cheese over slivers of red pepper and sautéed onion. Though it sounds incredibly plain, the flavor was anything but. The creamy goat cheese combined with the warm peppers and onions was fantastic — just great, straightforward food. We had to ask for more bread, which was wonderful in its own right, in order to swipe the dish completely clean.
For our second course, we decided on the crabmeat sautéed in brown butter. Served in with sautéed mushrooms and nestled in between two layers of puff pastry, this too was superb. It’s easy for a cooked mushroom to overpower a dish with its earthy taste, but that was most definitely not the case here. The mushrooms were a great compliment to the shredded crab, balancing delicate and nutty flavors really well. The puff pastry — well, let’s just say that if I had my way and health wasn’t a factor, foodstuff enclosed in puff pastry would be a larger part of my diet. If I had to make one complaint, it would be that the dish leaned a bit towards the salty side, though that honestly didn’t bother me as I tend to enjoy salty food.
It should come to no surprise that I was once again indecisive when it was time to select an entrée. One of the night’s specials — a fisherman’s stew made with tomato and saffron — sounded so very appealing; then again, so did the scallops with Pernod and cream. In the end, it was the bartender who decided for us, telling Keith to order the stew and me the scallops. Though I did steal a few bites from Keith’s plate and thought it was tremendous, I’ve got to say that my scallops were beyond amazing. At one point, I nudged Keith and said, “I want to live in this pan.” (Imagine: what a delicious little house I could make inside a broccoli stalk, what a lovely hike I could have over black barley mountains, and what great swimming amongst boulders of scallops.) The cream and anisette combined to make a luscious sauce for the scallops — I not only cleaned my plate, but used my knife to scrape off the vaguely burnt bits. It was that good.
If I could change one thing about Street and Co. it would be this: the location. Sure, Portland isn’t that far a drive from Boston, but that doesn’t change the fact that I want to pick up each of the restaurant’s corners, fold it into a tidy little square and put it in my pocket. That way, a meal as great as this would always be within reach.
Street and Co.
33 Wharf Street
Portland, Maine 04101