As has been mentioned before, one of the very fun things about living in Boston is all the possibilities for day trips (5 states in addition to Massachusetts are in striking distance for day trips). The weekend after we went to Montreal, our friend J came to town and we decided to head up to Portland, Maine for the day. Portland is a pretty easy 2 hour drive north of Boston, and is a fun small city to explore.
Here’s a little map of our trip (plus a few places that we would have liked to visit had we had more time).
Our first stop upon arriving was Duckfat, a place known for belgian fries fried in duck fat. We loved the fries (though they weren’t quite at the level of the ones in Marche Jean Talon in Montreal), and really loved the homemade sodas.
Across the street from Duckfat we noticed a little bookshop…a cookbook bookshop, Rabelais. We enjoyed browsing and chatting with the owner (and C got lots of interesting ideas from books about the science of cooking).
After this we headed down to the Casco Bay ferry terminal, and took a ferry over to Peak’s Island. Peak’s Island is the sort of place that you imagine when thinking about what it might have been like to be at a New England summer house in the 1920s. We rented bikes (and bought Moxie sodas) at a friendly little bike shop just up the street from the ferry dock, and pedaled around the perimeter of the island for the next hour or two, stopping along the way to explore the beaches and parks that we passed by.
We caught a ferry back to Portland and had a little time to wander around Commercial street (which is not actually that interesting) before dinner at Grace Restaurant. I picked Grace because I was taken with the concept – it’s an old church that has been turned into a restaurant (and because we used to go to a church named Grace). The building itself was striking, and the dining room was fascinating: the pulpit was moved near the front door and was where the host/hostess stood, lots of the seats were pews, and there was seating in both what would have been the main sanctuary as well on the balcony. I peeked in the event space downstairs, and it pretty much looked like a church fellowship hall – which I guess is what it was! In any case, the concept was great, and the food didn’t disappoint. We particularly enjoyed a really fantastic gazpacho, tuna and scallop tartar, and their goat cheese gnocci.
Needless to say, we headed back down to Boston with full stomachs, just as the sun was setting. Not sure what Portland is like in the winter, but for a day trip during the summer, we thought it was pretty great (and much less crowded on a weekend day than the Cape, Newport, etc.)