Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lunch at Nosh, Portland, Maine

Who woulda thunk that I would stumble onto a brand spanking new restaurant outside of my hometown simply by surfing the blogosphere?  That's how I discovered Nosh where we ate our first lunch of the day in Portland.  My friend, Annie, and I set out from Boston early this morning and caught the 9 am train from Boston to Portland.  You can buy a round trip ticket for only $39 if you plan a few days in advance on the Downeaster line on Amtrak.  The last train leaves the Portland at 7:55 and puts you back in Boston around 10:30.  It was practically meant for a day trip, and after today, I'm sure I will be taking advantage of this tremendous bargain again very soon.  I'm not even sure you could drive from Boston to Portland and back on $40 worth of gas with the price of fuel these days.

Nosh is an unassuming little spot near Longfellow square on Congress Street near the Old Port area.  We had checked the menu out online and wanted to try their extensive selection of charcuterie, but unfortunately, it is only offered after 5 pm.  We ended up with sandwiches instead, but it certainly was not a disappointment in any way.  On the contrary, our meal was above and beyond any expectations that we might have had for the charcuterie and the price was even better.

I went for it with gusto by ordering the pork belly Reuben sandwich.  Just in case you don't know, pork belly is the same cut as bacon - it's just not smoked or cured, but has all the same delicious fat and meaty meat as bacon.  It was as wonderfully flavorful and rich as it sounds.  The pork belly was seared after being braised and had a lovely light caramelization that gave it the slightest bit of crunch.  The provolone cheese was melted and gooey and there was plenty of Russian dressing and kraut all served on nice rye bread.  It was a great way to have a classic with a twist and I relished every bite that I was able to eat.

Annie had a delicious (mile-high) turkey sandwich made with a generous amount of homemade turkey breast that was thickly sliced and served cold with stuffing, herbed mayo, and cranberry sauce.  It was just like the sandwiches you might make for yourself on the day after Thanksgiving and so fantastically satisfying!  Our friend, Sherri, who used to work with us and is now a pastry chef at another Portland restaurant, had a delicious fried fish sandwich made with Cod that tasted incredibly fresh.

The French fries that we ordered to share rivaled those at Duck Fat, which I have already written about in my blog.  We tried two varieties: bacon and salt and vinegar.  The bacon fries were dusted with dehydrated bacon powder and we dipped them in cheddar cheese sauce.  They were exquisite.  The salt and vinegar fries were the surprise of the day for me.  Turns out they use powdered citric acid instead of actual vinegar, another molecular gastronomy trick, so the fries have a really tart flavor without any of the funky vinegar twang.  We ordered horseradish mayo to go on those and enjoyed the sweet/spicy/salty/tart flavor explosion with zeal.

The bar menu looked great, but we had a lot of eating and sightseeing ahead, so we elected not to drink in an attempt not to slip into a serious food and beverage comma.  I want to return sometime and sit at the bar, drink beer, and eat charcutrie and cheese when I can spend the night in Portland.  For now, I can only imagine how fabulous their cured meats and patés must be.  It will be a must on my next trip to Portland and I'll be recommending it to all of my friends.  Nosh has only been open for three weeks, so our server told us, and I'm anxious to see what else is yet to come from the folks there.  I'm sure whatever it is, it will be great.

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