Central Provisions Portland, Maine
Our trip to Portland, Maine was an accidental “Plan B” trip due to an intrusive hurricane but was one of our favorite getaways! One aspect was the food scene and all the amazing places to eat.
All the dinner places that were recommended to us by friends either did not take reservations or their allotment of tables for reserved seating were booked. Therefore, our plan was to get to desired dinner locations at open to ensure a table without waiting.
We decided to try our Boston friends’ (who gave us all their recommendations from Hawaii- bless their souls for pulling through for us from across the globe!) recommendation of Central Provisions for a tapas styled meal.
We got to the bar area in the lower level of the restaurant around 4:45PM where we grabbed a glass of wine, waiting for the main dining room above us to open. As 5PM neared, we saw an older couple climb the stairs so we immediately followed them up to the dining room. A line of people was already formed out the front door waiting to dine as well so we were happy to have gone through the bar area (was an honest mistake- didn’t know there was an entrance from the opposite street!).
We were seated at the bar where we had prime real estate in front of the head chef as he called out ordered and watched the five other chefs prepare their assigned dishes- best seat in the house!
Since the menu was tapas style small plates, we ordered a bunch of different dishes that caught our eye. Tapas styled dining is one of our favorite ways of eating because it allows you to try many items on a menu in small portions. It really allows you to explore what a restaurant is really about. The menu also has a nice mix of staple favorites and seasonal varieties to keep things fresh and creative.
Finding many interesting items on the menu, we had no problem racking up a list of our plates.
This first dish to arrive at our table was one of the daily specials- Bluefin Tuna Crudo with squid ink lavash, ‘nduja, egg yolk.
This dish was one of the specials for the evening that Kevin was interested in trying. While I had never had tuna tartar before, it was easy to tell the quality of the tuna was very good and full of flavor. Definitely solidifies our love for tartar dishes!
Up next was the Fresh Corn and Lobster Polenta with Northspore mushrooms, saffron, fino sherry, and guanciale.
So many of my favorites in one dish! While the polenta was more soupy then I was expecting, the medley of these ingredients served up a fantastic dish.
Another dish was the Bone Marrow Toast with fontina, horseradish creme, and red onion.
If bone marrow is on a menu, we order it. This presentation was certainly different that we have had in the past and it worked very well. Thick toast with the bone marrow on top tucked in with cheese- the best take on grilled cheese ever.
The final dish of our first round of ordering was the Suckling Pig with apple, brown butter, marcona almond.
Sweet, salty, fatty goodness. This was one of those dishes were it was unfair how delicious it was. Kevin and I could have easily each had our own and we had to diligently make sure we each got exactly half. A crispy crust, a savory meat, and a sweet accompaniment- we loved this plate!
We had ordered those four dishes, continued to watch other dishes being made and served, and assessed our stomach capacity for more food. Another wonderful benefit of this style of dining- the ability to take a break and order more if needed. One dish caught my eye in particular so we decided to sneak in one more tapas and then move to dessert.
Our add on dish was Caramelized Sheep’s Cheese with peaches, quince saba.
And boy was I happy we dove back in for this one. Underneath the grilled peaches- already amazing- was caramelized cheese! The perfect pairing and it was an excellent selection that I am glad we circled back for.
For dessert, we got the Maine Blueberries with sweet corn ice cream, and crumbled short bread).
If it wasn’t chocolate, I am typically not interested but this combination still stole my sweet tooth. I think I had blueberries everyday on this trip and I was in love with that- I did not know Portland was known for blueberries and what a great surprise. Our local gelato shop, The Bent Spoon, makes all sorts of flavors- including sweet corn so I was thrilled to see it in this dessert. Every bit was bliss- a wonderfully crafted dessert.
Every dish was incredible. We obviously had no expectations for this trip and since we had hoped to be eating at EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival, we definitely did not expect to be eating this good in Portland! Each dish was creative and absolutely delicious. Even dishes I did not think I would enjoy (Bluefin was described as a little spicy, Bone Marrow had horseradish which i typically despise) were exceptional in the use of the flavors to not overpower but were used to balance the dish. What a privilege to live near this establishment- I know we would be there all the time. We cannot give Central Provision enough accolades for an amazing meal!