Greetings from Vacationland!
I’m in Maine visiting my parents for a couple days. I don’t make the trip often, so when I do, we usually cook at home, or dine at one of the coastal towns with more food options. In the summer, the tourist towns are the go-to destinations for fresh “lobsta”, clams, and homemade ice cream. Unfortunately, it’s a little early in the season for that and it has been raining nonstop here.
I researched local vegetarian/vegan spots to check out in Portland. Green Elephant, a vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurant I’d found on HappyCow looked promising. As we pulled up on Sunday, they were closed. Slight oversight. Damn you Blue Laws. P.S. Maine was the last New England state to discontinue the law that prevented department stores from opening on Sundays.
With the help of VegOut, a vegetarian restaurant iPhone app I downloaded a few months ago, I found Pom’s Thai Taste which conveniently was next door. I was skeptical of the neon signage (usually a reliable indicator of bad eats), but I was pleasantly surprised. (Perhaps it’s not so reliable after all. Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas has a neon sign and that place ROCKS). The restaurant was casual and quiet, with a handful of other diners. We had a very sweet young server who was attentive and waited patiently as my parents ordered. Aside: My parents are great at a lot of things. Ordering at restaurants isn’t one of them. They appear to be memorizing the menu, as the server hovers waiting to take their order. It doesn’t matter how long they review the menu in advance, it’s always the same. I try to act like it’s not happening right next to me. Gotta love ’em.
Anywho…The vegetarian gyoza was my favorite. The tofu filling was heartier than the typical all veggie and the exterior was nicely seared without any greasy residue. My dad enjoyed the teriyaki chicken which had two large, but thinly pounded breasts. Somehow I managed to take photos of everything except that dish. Although my Spicy Bamboo and my mom’s Tofu Noodle were too heavily sauced, overall, the food was tasty and worth trying if you’re in the area.
It was refreshing to see some color emerging in Maine’s food world. Growing up, whenever we went out to eat, we were limited to pizza, hamburgers, sandwiches, and Americanized Chinese food. Basically, crap, crap, or a side of crap. Although quality Japanese/Sushi restaurants are still scarce, Thai is more prominent, almost like the new Chinese food. Even Pom’s Thai has three locations. Maine is on the radar with its’ own award-winning chefs/restaurants. I had a delicious meal at fivefifty-five a while ago. Sadly, it was before the blog started, so I’ll have to go back to take pics and do a full report.
I give Maine props. It has managed to maintain its’ charm by staving off the mass development of chains like Starbucks and the Gap. Or maybe the chains have no desire to come to Maine. Either way, it’s nice to not see one on every corner. I think the only Starbucks I saw was at the airport? Although I miss the convenience of home, it’s good to be back, to be grounded, and to be reminded of life outside of the City.
Next time I’ll have to check out some of the award winners, and hit a few lobsta shacks on the coast.