(Note: this is a repost from June. This article was moved from blogs to stories)
Special occasions require special food. Yesterday was my dad's 75th birthday and we went to the Saltwater Grill in South Portland upon recommendation of one of my sister's friends.
The food was excellent. With a group of more than 10 people, there was diversity of ordering (and gluten-free options for just about everything). Some ordered the Fisherman's Platter and split it with another person (which was a suffient amount of food for two). Some got the fried clams. One got a stuffed lobster (see pic).
I, however, chose a Downeast-Style Lobster Roll. I did this for two reasons. One, I like lobster and, two, to get a taste of one of the entries for the 2021 DownEast Lobster Roll Competition.
Do I think Saltwater Grille will win the competition? Probably not. But, not for the reason you might think. The lobster roll was excellent! It was six ounces of all lobster meat, all from the best part of the lobster (claw, knuckle, and tail) and soaked in butter on a bread roll.
So why won't they win? Here is the issue and also what makes this location quite special. Saltwater Grill is a wonderful experience. It is located right on the water, and you can watch boats come in and out of the docks. The atmosphere alone makes you feel special. You are not a number in a system. The napkins are not paper. You get the picture? Then add on to this excellent food and you have a winner.
Great view. Great service. Great food. Good prices.
This is where you go when you want something special. Excellent seafood at a good price. What really surprised me about this experience was the bill. You will pay nearly as much at many take-outs on the coast.
Best of all, the Saltwater Grille does not make you feel like you are in a tourist trap. With so many locations on the coast designed to direct you into expensive seafood, the Saltwater Grille stands apart. You would have to look it up to know where it is as you would likely not stumple upon it on your own.
That is likely why it will not win the 2021 DownEast Lobster Roll Competition. They will not get the numbers. They do not pump out lobster rolls in mass like the others and they will not get the popularity of the fast food, walk-up, take your order, "here is your number," hurry up and eat, coastal food-traps.
Look, I have nothing agains the take-out food places on the coast... and there are some good ones. However, if you are looking for a relaxing place to eat at a competitive price, Saltwater Grill might be your place.
The food and ambiance is hard to beat for a coastal restaurant.
Oh, and the lobster roll was awesome.