Thank you to BlueFin Restaurant who provided a complimentary meal in exchange for my honest thoughts. I have 9 reasons to visit BlueFin Restaurant in Portland Maine, so read on! Some links are affiliate links that earn me a commission if you purchase through them.
When I told friends I was headed to Portand, Maine, they told me what I needed to eat. What can I say? I have good friends.
At the top of the list was lobster rolls, with whoopie pies close behind. However, there are only so many lobster rolls one can eat, so that’s when knowing where to venture next comes in handy.
One night, we tried BlueFin Restaurant, located in the lobby of the Portland Harbor Hotel. While I don’t generally seek out hotel restaurants, experiences over the past few weeks with surprising options has changed my mind.
9 Reasons to Eat at BlueFin Restaurant in Portland Maine
I love unique restaurants. BlueFin Restaurant in Portland Maine is cozy with nontraditional seating in addition to tables and cute booths. I loved the sofas set as a conversational grouping with a low table between for a casual dinner with friends. Similarly, the fireplace in the center of the restaurant has comfortable chairs around low tables, adding to the low key environment.
Or head outside to the patio
Though Maine’s weather didn’t cooperate with us when we were there, we could see the gorgeous patio just beyond the small restaurant seating area. The oasis had a garden feel to it, and that includes a fire pit.
Dining al fresco always makes food taste better to me. When I’m in a city and find a quiet location that takes me away from everything around me, that becomes even more appealing.
The chef does burrata right
Burrata is one of my favorite foods. The creamy, fresh cheese complements so many dishes, and Chef Gil Plaster does a fantastic version of a caprese salad with his.
The heirloom tomatoes taste amazingly fresh, and the balsamic reduction adds the zing I look for. Add in some pickled onion and arugula to give it more body, and I don’t even need the provide lemon to squeeze over the salad for more acidity.
Creative cocktails are a win
I have a group of friends I eat dinner with at a new restaurant each quarter. One of our requirements? We look for a solid cocktail menu.
BlueFin Restaurant in Portland Maine delivers. With puns and twists on traditional classics plus unique beverages, you’ll find something to enjoy. The Braseleira is a take off a caipirinha, while the SideKarma plays from a sidecar.
The Dove Eyes, however – that’s the one that won me over. Combine mezcal with blanco tequila, yuzu, and grapefruit, and this is a cocktail you need to order.
Pork Belly Lollipops
Order them. That’s really all you need to know.
Pork belly is basically fancy bacon, and this seared pork belly simply melts in your mouth as you pop each one into your mouth. The candied jalepeno isn’t too spicy and provides the perfect complement to the smoky sweet pork belly.
I’ve had pork belly before. This might – no hyperbole – be the best version I’ve ever had.
If you haven’t noticed, Chef Gil Plaster likes his puns – as do I. This isn’t escargot with snails. Instead it takes the Maine classic lobster and turns it into an absolutely fantastic appetizer.
These chunks of lobster get baked in a garlic butter then topped with herbed breadcrumbs. Served in a cast iron pan with crostini, make sure you use that bread to sop up any remaining garlicky buttery goodness.
Seared Tuna Loin
When you visit BlueFin restaurant in Portland Maine, you know seafood is something you should order. Tuna may not be your first thought, and an Asian inspired version definitely isn’t what first crosses your mind. At least not my mind.
The seared tuna loin here comes glazed in ponzu over baby bok choy (one of my favorite side dishes to make by the way). The cold soba noodles have a lovely dressing that works with the tuna. Choose to drag your bite through either the wasabi aoli or miso, or enjoy it on its own.
Not the seafood I expect to enjoy in Maine, but this dish? Fantastic.
Or try something from the land
Not everyone loves seafood, and BlueFin Restaurant in Portland Maine recognizes sometimes you want something a little heartier. The 8 ounce grilled fillet of beef gets rubbed with porcini and is served with a north spore demi.
The steak gets cooked to perfection and is amazingly tender and flavorful. The broccolini fits well with the dish, but I wish it came in smaller portions. And don’t forget those mashed potatoes they call pommes aligot. But that isn’t the best part.
Even better than lobster mac….
While dishes come with sides – unlike many steakhouses and restaurants – you have the option to substitute for even fancier sides. Try lobster mac and cheese or go to the truly unique lobster mashed instead.
This creamy, rich potato dish topped with the generous chunks of buttery lobster meat. It’s amazingly rich but wow is it also amazingly good.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, however
Not every dish we ate at BlueFin Restaurant was a hit. That said, we had an enjoyable meal overall in a quiet restaurant with great ambiance.
I tried the lobster popovers, which was essentially a lobster roll with a giant popover as the bun. The popover itself was fantastic, but the lobster salad within it had too much tarragon that overpowered the flavors. I loved the concept, but the execution needs a little tweaking.
One friend ordered the seared scallops, served over a Parmesan risotto. The scallops themselves were fantastic and cooked to perfect. The risotto, however, was so salty that I couldn’t take a second bite.
On the dessert menu, you’ll find two of my favorites – key lime pie and creme brulee. While the key lime pie was a good pie, it was not key lime pie and lacked that distinctive key lime flavor.
The creme brulee similarly had a good taste, but rather than appearing in a shallow dish, BlueFin serves this in a dish you expect to use for a cup of soup. This gives a lot of custard, and though the sugar layer was thick, it didn’t have the same wow factor you expect with creme brulee.
Note that the menu changes seasonally, so be sure to check out the current offerings before you go – and ask your server what the diner favorites are.
The creativity of the chef brought several absolutely amazing dishes that we all enjoyed. Gil Plaster is new to BlueFin Restaurant, and his talent makes me optimistic that more dishes will be like the ones we love and fewer will be overseasoned.