A dinner in Portland Maine has many options. This bustling coastal city has everything from nationally recognized sushi restaurants to tiny lobster shacks, with dining choices that span every flavor of the globe at many different price points. With so many choices, it seems counter intuitive to dine at a hotel. Hotel food brings to mind overcooked prime rib and iceberg salads drowning in salty balsamic dressing.
This is the restaurant that breaks the mold.
Sea Glass restaurant in Cape Elizabeth’s Inn by the Sea is a seasonally focused restaurant that works with both nearby farmers and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute to serve food that is not only delicious but also sustainable and indigenous to the region. The restaurant is an oasis of calm from the moment you enter. The small dining room is quintessentially Maine – casual, slightly rustic, exceedingly comfortable. Nonetheless, the restaurant’s excellent waitstaff and attention to detail lends the restaurant an air of calm elegance.
Watermelon, feta and balsamic glaze
This amuse bouche, while not exactly innovative, does just what a first bite should do – it whets the appetite, sparks the tastebuds, and makes the diner excited for the impending meal. Sweet, salty, and tangy, this is a combination that really works well as a first taste.
Maine lobster bisque with sherry cream and herb oil
One of the best soups I have had in recent memory. The broth is creamy without being gloppy or stiff – there are minimal thickeners here, which allows the flavor of the lobster to truly shine. This is even more lobster-y than eating a lobster whole, because the boiled shells release all of the deep flavor in the long cooked stock. The soup is incredibly deep, with both the taste of the sea and the sweet, nutty taste of sherry. The herb oil, fragrant with the licorice-y scent of tarragon, adds to the aromatics of the soup.
Gulf of Maine seafood and lobster paella with chorizo
Less of a paella and more of a paella-influenced rice, this is a standout dish. Though it lacks the soccarat of a true paella, the rice is creamy and heady with saffron. Juicy peas and spicy chorizo play off the floral scent of the saffron, enriching the rice and layering the flavor. Sweet mussels, tender calamari, tiny shrimp, and buttery lobster are prevalent and well cooked. Tje only item that is overcooked were the clams, which are a bit rubbery. Regardless, this is an excellent dish, and one that I would order again.
Hand rolled ricotta gnocchi with truffle oil, parmesan, spinach, and roasted mushrooms
These gnocchi are different than the usual fluffy potato dumplings, because they are made with – you guessed it – ricotta as the main ingredient. As such, these are incredibly creamy and pleasantly dense. These dumplings, each a slightly different shape, come bathed in a creamy sauce that is accented by wilted spinach, nutty parmesan cheese, and a variety of roasted mushrooms. The mushrooms are really a standout – woodear, shiitake, and other mushrooms all collide in the dish, bringing earthy and woodsy flavors to the gnocchi. This really speaks to the restaurant’s dedication to using seasonal and indigenous produce – the taste is incredible and the fact that it is sustainable makes this a guilt free indulgence.
Peanut buster parfait with caramelized bananas, peanut butter and vanilla gelato, hot fudge, and honey roasted peanuts
A nostalgic and delicious dessert. How could anyone not love this? It’s a classy peanut butter cup with creamy gelato, fudgy sauce, crunchy peanuts, and bananas covered in a crunchy sheath of caramelized sugar. Anyone who doesn’t like this really doesn’t know how to enjoy life.
And one thing that Sea Glass can help a diner do is enjoy life. The food here is not just good for hotel food, it is fantastic for any food. The seafood is of particular note, incredibly fresh with unique seasonings and preparations. The food tastes like fine dining, but the sweet service and casual atmosphere helps you feel as if you are a guest in someones fabulous summer home. The prices are on the pricier side, but are a bargain for the food, the portions, and the gorgeous atmosphere.
Count Sea Glass among your best options for Portland dining.
*Disclaimer: My meal was paid for by the restaurant. I was not required to write about the experience, and my opinions are my own, and, I feel, unbiased.*