what was supposed to be a fun-filled, child-free weekend in portland, maine was… well, still fun and, yes, child-free, but not a full weekend as we would have liked.
our friends were getting married in portland, maine so, of course, we had to make a weekend out of it. we anticipated a 3-hour drive per google maps and decided to leave around 9am to get to portland by noon for lunch. the wedding wasn’t until 6pm but we wanted to explore the small city.
it had been incredibly humid and raining on and off for the past week, and that saturday morning was no different. a little rain doesn’t hurt anyone but it was downpouring when we left our house. (we also didn’t leave at our planned 9am time, but rather at 9:50am). right when we got onto the highway, 84-east, there was traffic. and that was the story of our drive up. stop-and-go traffic for the next four hours. yes, four hours. the rain, the weekend traffic, and Dennis’ pit stop to use the bathroom added an extra hour to our drive. (later we found out there was a 10k in portland that day and guster was in town to play a show. these probably contributed to the traffic!)
we had decided to get an airbnb with some friends because 1) there was no hotel room block for weddings, and 2) the hotel rooms that were available were very expensive. the four of us had decided to grab lunch at eventide oyster company in downtown portland and stop by shipyard brewery for a beer before checking into our home.
it wasn’t until we were close to eventide that a friend informed me eventide is usually a 2-4 hour wait! can you believe that? who waits that long?? apparently, everyone because when we got there the line snaked out the door and almost down the entire block. it was a wait just to even get in to put our name down!
a passerby remarked that eventide is overrated so then we started wondering if we should go somewhere else. luckily, there was space in the standing room nearby where patrons can stand around to eat and drink. we opted to do that since we were already there. we were really curious to see how good the lobster rolls were and if the long wait is justified.
to start, we ordered four kinds of oysters. i know nothing about oysters except that they are bivalves. (I really enjoyed biology.) i’m actually fairly ambivalent to oysters: i’ll eat them if they’re there but I don’t go out of my way to order them. and dennis despises them, so then there were more for us. the two accoutrements we chose were kimchi ice and horseradish ice. again, not being an oyster aficionado I don’t have much to say but they both tasted fine to me. our server did mention the most popular one is horseradish.
we had also ordered a side of kimchi which we unanimously urge you not to order! that was a huge mistake. all four of us being Koreans, we saw ‘kimchi’ on the menu and we were like, “oh, hey!” no, no, no… please stay away. (seriously though, our friend, Cindy, took ownership of this blunder as she really wanted kimchi. we forgive you.) unless you know kimchi is made by a legit Korean ahjumma, don’t ever order kimchi from a non-korean restaurant! being the daughter of restaurateurs, i should know this and am rightfully ashamed.
back to the eventide kimchi, it was basically pickled cabbage. the coloring was off and I doubt authentic Korean red chili pepper flakes were even used. it was a sad, wilted mess. while we waited for the brown butter lobster rolls to come out, we drank our pints of allagash whites (yum) and I commented how all of Portland’s asians are right here in this establishment. (there seriously was a good amount.) because, you know, maine is like 99.9% white.
the $15 lobster rolls was small imo but absolutely worth the price. of course, the fresh lobster had a large part in the deliciousness but the brown butter was so heavenly. we thought about purchasing second rolls but that would’ve been another $15 each… and we had a wedding to attend in a couple of hours. (we would later regret not buying the extra rolls. more to come later.)
I can’t quite justify waiting 2-4 hours just to eat a freaking lobster roll though. I do want to return to eat them again, but will probably just stand instead of waiting an obscene amount of time for a table. if you’re in town, get the brown butter rolls but, again, do not order the kimchi. you have been warned.
unfortunately, the traffic and the wait for a space to open up ate up what little time we had to explore portland a little more. the boys actually did end up going to shipyard brewery while the girls chose to stay home and get ready for the wedding.the house we rented from airbnb was really cute and well-decorated. the owner is a Joanna Gaines fan (she had the magnolia cookbook, and so do I!) and the decor definitely screamed that. we liked everything about the house except it did not have air-conditioning. say what? what house, in this day and age, does not have ac? the guys had booked the house and this was news to them. turns out they failed to notice the ‘no ac’ sign on the ad. it wasn’t unbearably hot at night but still toasty enough where I couldn’t sleep with a blanket on, and I always sleep with a blanket or a thin bedsheet.
other than that, I would definitely rent the house again. it only has 2 bedrooms so not ideal with the children since they sleep in their own bedrooms. but it would be great to return with friends, again.
we were all able to ready in time for the wedding! we took an uber to the venue (10-minute drive) so we wouldn’t have to worry about driving back after drinking. it’s a great thing we did because it was so hard to find parking! our friends had driven up from boston and they spent 40 minutes looking for parking, and they were peeved!
the wedding took place at an irish pub in downtown portland called ri ra. our friends had a private ceremony earlier during the day and were holding a reception for family and friends. the reception took place on the second floor of the pub. I definitely felt out of place as we got out of the uber car because we were so dolled up. people were staring but not unkindly; probably wondering why we were so dressed up for a pub.
it was definitely a very minimal wedding. it just felt like a gathering for friends and family. the food consisted of appetizers all night and there was no cake (sadly, since i have a huge sweet tooth). I had also looked forward to dancing but there wasn’t any music playing either. there were no photo opps so we just took pictures of each other by the dock or at the bar. for a cash bar, the guys seemed to really enjoy downing drinks. i didn’t finish my sangria and i had a glass of pinot grigio before calling it a night.
after the wedding ended around 9, a group of us went back to our home to eat and hang out. we ordered 4 boxes of pizza since we were still hungry and the boys also bought beer and wine.
the next morning, we were going to go to holy donut on a friend’s recommendation but good thing I had called! the line was out the door and snaking around the building.. is there a line for everything in portland?!
I was so disappointed because I love doughnuts but it wouldn’t be smart to waste time waiting in line. instead, we went to st. joe’s coffee in scarborough, maine. there ended up being a line here as well (geez louise) but much more manageable than at the holy donut. we ordered breakfast sandwiches and wraps to go since we had a long drive back. (rob and cindy had a 7-hour drive to jersey!)
dennis and I actually drove 20 minutes in the opposite direction to see one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world, portland head light in cape elizabeth. even though dennis was feeling awful, he gamely agreed to go since he knew how disappointed I was about not going to holy donut.
I’m so glad we had gone because the lighthouse was beautiful! a big crowd here as well but that’s expected for a famous lighthouse in the peak summer months. I purchased a few postcards and magnets from the gift shop, and that was more waiting in line.
we wish we had had more time to explore portland, but it wasn’t worth sticking around for a few more hours knowing we had a nightmare of a drive back. it ended up being 3.5 hours but there was still stop-and-go traffic all the way home.
next time we will have to go an extra day (take a monday or a friday off) because the drive alone with all those cars was infuriating. this was not my first time in portland but the last time I had visited was well over a decade ago.
still, we we enjoyed having an adult-only weekend and catching up with friends. i look forward to going back to portland.