Back to the future


With all the hype about Portland’s foodie-fave restaurants, you know—555, Evangeline, Hugo’s, Fore Street, Cinque Terre, Bresca—sometimes out-of-sight/out-of-mind Back Bay Grill gets overlooked. It shouldn’t.

I dined there last night, and it continues to be one of the city’s top restaurants, with professional service and excellent fare. It’s been around far longer than most of the newbie hotspots, with a pedigree going back 20 years and a bevy of awards of its own. Chef Larry Matthews knows his way around the restaurant’s open kitchen.

My local tomato salad, with goat cheese from Heart Song Farm and drizzled with balsamic was divine. Fresh, luscious, plump tomatoes were at the peak of flavor. Heaven.

Now another foodie had told me to order the foie gras, because he said, no one does it better. I didn’t this time, but I will try it another. I did take his advice on my entree, though, ordering the sauteed duck breast, with duck confit, tallegio risotto and summer squash. When the plate first arrived, I said: too much, I’ll never finish it. Hah.

We finished up with the cheese plate for two, which contained La Peral, a Spanish blue, that was amazing for its depth of flavor.

The Back Bay Grill isn’t in any of the usual foodie neighborhoods, rather its near Back Bay (yeah, the name’s a hint), a few blocks over from the Post Office. And if you go, check out the mural in the dining room, then ask for the story. Oh, and do make reservations, it might be off the tourist radar screen, but locals know this gem.