Grazing through Portland: Breakfast at the Porthole

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I love the Porthole, a retro, unfussy dineresque joint hanging over the Custom House Wharf: faded signs, more-faded linoleum, an old pot-bellied stove (replaced by a far more efficient gas one), an upright piano, hospital-green paneled walls, a counter full of salty character (and often, characters).

One neighboring table was spread with papers and Blackberries, signs of a biz deal in progress; at another, two middle-aged men were reliving their high school glory days; by the window, two women were holding a gab fest; a young family filled the street-side table; and a pair of bewildered, fearless tourists had snagged the aisle table between the front door and the deck door, in case they decided to make a quick escape. Still a bit too cool for the deck, but soon (somehow, I’m okay with inhaling diesel boat engine fumes and the pungent aroma of bait along with my blueberry pancakes).

And the food? Hey, it’s breakfast, and this isn’t a fancy schmancy place (well, except for the lobster Benedict or the creme brule French toast). Good, relatively cheap (you’re on the waterfront) basics—think biscuits and gravy, buttermilk pancakes, corned beef hash—outnumber those surprises. Yet even here, like nearly everywhere in the city, the menu touts that it supports local farmers and producers.

Waitress arrived at the table with a smile, menus and coffee pot in hand. I kept it simple with poached eggs and one of the homemade biscuits. Eggs were perfectly poached; that 75¢ biscuit turned out to be a gigunda masterpiece. Yeah, the Porthole is my kinda breakfast joint. One of these days I’ll have to return for the all-you-can-eat, Shipyard Beer-battered fish ‘n’ chips.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Not a comment about the Porthole, but about your latest article in the Globe…why no love for Bob’s Clam Hut??

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