When you think of Portland, Maine, and food there is one thing that comes to most peoples minds…Lobster! (Or lobstah if you are a New Englander.) And many of the restaurants in this community have lobster on the menu. BlueFin Restaurant Portland Maine, a cozy dining experience inside of the Portland Harbor Hotel, incorporates lobster into its offerings while presenting other creative dishes with no lobster in sight.
Thanks so much to BlueFin North Atlantic Seafood for inviting our group to sample their menu in exchange for this honest review. As always, my opinions are my own.
Introducing BlueFin Restaurant Porlfor Creative Dishes in an Intimate Setting
My experience at BlueFin showed how a chef can take the ordinary and put their spin on it to leave you with creative dishes that delight the palate.
Executive Chef Gil Plaster, a Miami, FL native, arrived at BlueFin this spring. His menu highlights Maine’s bounty of fresh seafood and local ingredients. He incorporates molecular gastronomy (blending traditional cooking techniques with new technologies and approaches) into his menu which results in a variety of tastes and textures.
The menu will change with the seasons, so always take a look at the current one on their site. What follows below is from the Spring 2019 menu which was in play during my visit.
Enjoy a Cozy Intimate Setting
Set to the side of the 2nd-floor lobby of the Portland Harbor Hotel, you will find cozy seating options for dining.
BlueFin has a small bar area near the kitchen entrance. This is perfect for a single person or small group to enjoy a few drinks and maybe an appetizer.
Additional seating options including traditional tables or small nooks of couches and coffee tables.
When the weather is warmer, you can opt to be outside in the enclosed patio area. They had fire pits going for pockets of warmth. You can see it behind the glass here.
Highlighting the Appetizers and Drinks at BlueFin
While we experienced BlueFin for a complete restaurant experience, some guest may be content to just order some appetizers and drinks.
Everyone at the table had a different alcoholic beverage. Their cocktail menu reflects the continual twist on the familiar and the wine menu offered a plethora of options.
There were two appetizers offered which are my hands down favorites.
The chef’s take on a Caprese Salad brought to the table was not on the menu. Rather this was a special treat put together for us. With summer coming up, I would not be surprised to see it on the menu and for it to be a major hit.
The combination of sliced heirloom tomatoes, pickled onions, arugula, pistachio crumble, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, and balsamic drizzle provide for a refreshing dish.
Having an Italian heritage, I am quite familiar with the blend of fresh tomatoes with mozzarella and olive oil. However, the use of pickled onions which are slightly sweet and the tart flavor of the balsamic drizzle really makes this dish. I now feel the urge to recreate this in my own home to enjoy with fresh tomatoes in the summertime.
Crispy Pork Belly Lollipops with Candied Jalapeño was the other appetizer which everyone at the table enjoyed.
Pork Belly is something that I have only had a few times and was not a huge fan. This preparation of the pork belly was amazing. Everything just melts in your mouth allowing the flavorful fat to coat the tongue. I may become more of a pork belly fan with the need for correct preparation to appreciate it.
Selecting Delectable Main Courses
On the menu, there are plenty of seafood dishes. With a ready supply of fresh seafood options, I would expect nothing less from a menu highlighting local fare.
Scallops, shrimp, and tuna were selected by my compatriots. After all this is a seafood town.
What I ended up picking defied the seafood trend. I went with the Grilled Filet of Beef.
This wasn’t a lack of love for seafood. Rather, it was a choice made after careful consideration and discussions with our server. Most of the dishes contain gluten and this was the easiest to modify for my dietary needs.
Everyone agreed that the BlueFin kitchen staff did an amazing job with this dish. The beef was so tender. And full of wonderful flavor. I am a selective fan of anything with mushrooms. The porcini rub and north spore demi totally hit the mark.
What you will not see on the plate which normally comes with this dish is the cackling maitake. This was withheld from my plate as I am on a gluten-free diet.
So that I didn’t miss out on some of that famous lobster, I had a side of Lobster Mash. This added buttery lobster to an ordinary bowl of mashed potatoes. Delicious!
Ending Your Dining Experience with Dessert at BlueFin
If you manage to save room, there are several options for dessert.
Our server recommended the Lemon & Cinnamon ice cream. Sadly, the consensus was that the flavors will barely detectable. Instead, it tasted closer to the vanilla base. Other desserts were tasty, but none of them completely blew us out of the water.
What we didn’t try was the more savory post-dinner selection of an Artisan Cheese Plate. This is something I would enjoy in lieu of other appetizers while drinking a lovely glass of wine.
Final Takeaway on BlueFin in Portland, Maine
I would definitely include this restaurant on my list for a return visit. The combination of the creative spins on classic dishes plus the more intimate setting is a win for me. BlueFin is poised to help debunk the myth that hotel restaurants are not as good as others.
The server we had was attentive and did not balk at my continual questions in regard to my need to eat gluten-free. I appreciate restaurants having a separate menu of gluten-free items. However, I am more appreciative of a staff which knows the dishes and the ingredients well.
Have you visited Portland, Maine before?
Is lobster a must-have item when you are in Maine?
Which highlighted dish from BlueFin would be your top pick to try?