Thursday, August 27, 2009

Restaurant review: Street & Co.

Street & Co., a fine dining seafood restaurant on Wharf Street in Portland, Maine, certainly doesn’t need my help in advertising: it is a Portland institution, serving fine, fresh fish and shellfish in the same lovely space for twenty years now. But, since Mr. Mouse and I went there twice in four days, and since I need a blog post, here’s a review of our recent experiences.

Last Saturday we went with two other couples for a 7:45 p.m. seating. The restaurant was hopping, as it always is. There were several tables outside on the Wharf Street cobblestones; the air-conditioned bar and the two non-air-conditioned dining rooms were packed and turning over quickly. The dining rooms have tables at very close quarters: the staff certainly does not rush you out, but the set up is not conducive to lingering, particularly in the summer in the center dining room which also contains the open kitchen. It’s a super-cozy place to sit in February, however.

Mr. Mouse had beer (bottles only, and only a few local brews); the rest shared a bottle of white (Guy Bossard muscadet, $25.00 – rather sour to my taste) and a red (which was quite nice, but unfortunately I don’t recall what it was). Each couple shared their own appetizer: the Mouses had the ubiquitous mussels Provencal, a very generous panful served in a garlicky, buttery wine sauce ($9.95), with lots of fabulous Standard Baking bread for sopping. Another couple split an order of the mahogany clams: $1.00 more than the mussels but with many fewer shellfish.

For entrees, Mr. Mouse had what he always has, blackened swordfish ($26.95) while I had the bluefish ($24.95): both were off the menu and served with broccoli and smashed potatoes. Another diner had my perennial favorite – scallops in Pernod and cream ($26.95) and their spouse had grilled lobster - a whole lobster, split and served in the shell over linguini ($29.95) The best deal on the menu went to the third couple: they had the lobster fra diavolo ($42.95 and intended for two to share). Loaded with lobster and shellfish, and served over linguini in a spicy tomato-based sauce, they took home as much as they managed to eat.

On Tuesday, Mr. Mouse and I returned to Street & Co. to polish off a $50.00 gift certificate. We took the last two spots at the bar where we had a great view of the shucker serving up succulent oysters on the half shell. We shared a bottle of chardonnay (Sonoma-Cutrer, $34.00; very drinkable) and split a baby spinach salad with hard-boiled egg, Dijon vinaigrette and plenty of house-cured bacon, and an order of the mussels. These Tuesday mussels were tasty enough, but served with rather less broth than the weekend edition.

Street & Co. has been Mr. Mouse’s favorite Portland restaurant for years and has long served as our special occasion go-to place. The portions seem to be shrinking somewhat while the prices remain the same; whether this is in response to the economy, the dwindling fisheries or the fact that the longtime chef Abby Harmon left four years ago to start her own high-end eatery, Caiola’s. No matter. It’s still an excellent restaurant and a more sophisticated Maine seafood option when you’re tired of fried clams and lobster rolls.

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