Joe and I have been stuffing ourselves silly with seafood during our month in Maine. Lobster rolls. Fried scallops and clams. Fresh oysters. Crab melts. We’ve traveled for clams with a view. We’ve ordered a second lobster roll because it was *that* good.
It’s been a glutinous month. But when in Portland, Maine…
So as we’ve wrapped up our month calling Portland ‘home,’ I’ve compiled my favorite seafood experiences and where we had them. I’ve also shared a recipe for a surprisingly delicious corn clam chowder recipe I made up one weekend.
Our Favorite Seafood Experiences In Portland, Maine
Doubling Up On Eventide Lobster Rolls
Two words: Brown. Butter. Eventide’s lobster rolls feature huge hunks of lobster tail and claw, slathered in browned butter and stuffed into steamed buns — similar to those you’d find with a steamed pork bun.
Those lobster rolls are also the reason Eventide is the only restaurant I returned to this month. The first time we came, with friends Jess and Brian, we ordered seconds — they’re that good. I took friends Kate and Tommy back the very next weekend.
If you do one thing in Portland, Maine, go to Eventide.
The ‘Table Roll’ Trick
Kate and Tommy introduced a genius new strategy to maximize our seafood consumption without eating five meals a day: the table roll. We’d order a lobster roll, say, for the four of us and just bite and pass until it was done.
This trick worked especially well at J’s Oyster Bar and Portland Lobster Company — both no-frills, port-side restaurants with fantastic, straightforward seafood options. At J’s, we all wanted to try the scallop roll without committing to making it our entree. Table roll! At Portland Lobster Company, we’d just stopped in for a pre-Duck Tour beer and wanted a snack. Table roll!
Fried Clams With A View
We drove the easy twenty minutes to The Lobster Shack one Sunday afternoon — and I’m so glad we did. The little seafood joint is worth the trip just for the scenery alone. It’s nestled next to a beautiful lighthouse and above the rocky Maine coastline. Sit outside, and you can scramble right down the rocks to the ocean as you wait for your food.
Wondering what to order? Just know this: Lobster rolls, fried clams, and blueberry pie.
Opening A Meal With Oysters
We kicked off our time in Portland with my Aunt Adrienne, Uncle Mark, and cousin Andy. As in, we drove six hours from Montreal, parked in our driveway, and raced off to explore the city’s breweries with the family.
We cleaned up for an evening at Five Fifty-Five, though. And oysters sounded like the perfect transition into a more sophisticated dinner. We each had just one or two; they were the perfect fresh, briney treat after an afternoon tasting beers out in the sunshine — perhaps some of the most satisfying oysters I’ve ever had.
My Clam Corn Chowder Recipe
All the fresh seafood has inspired us to cook more seafood at home too. After a Saturday visit to the Portland farmers’ market, I came up with this recipe for corn chowder… with some local seafood thrown in. It’s good eating.
Corn Clam Chowder
I surprised myself with this recipe, given that I threw it together after craving corn chowder. It's good eating. The chowder takes about two hours to come together, but it's simple work. Chop, add, stir, wait. Repeat.
For the Chowder
- 3 ears corn
- 3 cups water
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 leek, finely diced
- 2 stalks celery, finely diced
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1.5 tbsp flour
- 2 filets haddock, cut into large chunks
- 15 oz fresh shucked clams and their juices Note: we got this at Whole Foods. You could also steam and shuck clams or get them canned.
- 4 boiling potatoes, cut into large chunks
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 tbsp chives
- salt and pepper
For the Croutons
- 1/2 load sourdough bread
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper
To Make the Chowder
Cut the corn kernels off the cob, reserve.
Make corn broth by adding the cobs and the water to a small pot. Bring to a strong simmer until ready to add to the chowder pot. Or, for about 15 minutes.
In a large soup pot, cook the bacon until crispy. Take out the bacon and drain the pot until all fat is out, just coating the pan.
Add butter, leeks, celery, carrots, garlic, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until crisp-tender. Or, 5-7 minutes.
Add flour and, stirring constantly, cook for 1-2 minutes more.
Add corn broth, potatoes, and clam juice. Bring to a strong simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Add corn kernels, haddock, clams, and milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cook for five minutes.
Salt to taste. Serve and top with chives and croutons.
To Make the Croutons
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut bread into ~1/2 inch cubes and toss into your tray. Space them out so they get extra crispy!
Drizzle olive oil and mix with your hands.
Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes.
Bake for ~5-10 minutes, or until nicely toasted.
Marvel at how easy croutons are. Eat on EVERYTHING.