There are about three nights during the summer that are stifling hot. I don’t have air conditioning at my house which is by choice. While there are many warm summer days, I have an abundance of windows which usually provide a nice breeze and, along with a few fans, is enough to keep me relatively cool and happy. But, there are those few random days each summer when I feel like I’m going to melt. On a recent Friday, when after doing something as simple as washing the dishes I was sweating as if I had dug a six foot trench, I knew we’d hit one of those days. I was drenched and desperately looking for a way to cool off.
What to do on such a hot day? Head into Portland and grab dinner at one of their many outside venues, and hope for an encounter with a lovely ocean side breeze. We hadn’t been to the Portland Lobster Company yet this season, and a hot night seemed like the perfect time to enjoy this fun summer outside destination. It’s one of my favorites, but things have been hectic and the timing hadn’t worked before now.
The Portland Lobster Company sign, outlined in lights, signifies your arrival at the small, white waterfront building. While the building itself is relatively tiny, the true draw is the outside patio, located on the dock to the right of the restaurant. It has it’s own separate entrance which is where we headed. I’m not alone in my love of the Portland Lobster Company. It can be somewhat difficult to find seating, but we arrived a little before six which seemed to be the sweet spot. The restaurant was busy but not yet packed.
As we entered the patio area, we immediately queued in the short line at the front of the bar. There is no table service at the Portland Lobster Company. You order your drinks and food up at the bar. The lines for the bar can get long as the night gets busier, and many people plan ahead by ordering pitchers. We saw plenty of pitchers of beer, and even one of sangria, being carried through the crowds.
The is also some limited seating around the bar, which wraps around in an l-shape, and is the backdrop for the musical acts that play at the Portland Lobster Company. The bar area is covered by a white awning, fringed in little red lobster lights. While my husband stayed in line to order our drinks, I headed pass the bar area, to the front section of the restaurant. This area is dotted with circular metal tables. The tables, which have a basket weave pattern in the center, are shielded from the sun by large blue umbrellas branded with the shipyard logo. While the tables are scattered throughout, there is one row of tables that borders the edge of the railing overlooking the water, but those were full on this particular Friday night. We did find a few empty tables towards the back of the section so we were able to snag some seats which made us happy.
Beyond these smaller, round tables, is a second section reserved for groups who are there for dinner. It’s more of a family area with a literal white line dividing this back section from the front and creating two unique areas. This back area is marked by two rows of large, orange-red picnic tables running lengthwise down the pier. The tables are protected by a rectangular awning with the far end of the section having a few extra tables that peak out beyond the awning. Those tables have their own Shipyard blue umbrellas tying them back to the section at the front. There are multi-colored buoys decorating the space.
Because the outside patio is on a dock, it’s long and narrow which allows for many seats that directly overlook the water, as well as great views even for those on the back side. We weren’t right by the water, but had the views. We also had our little red lobster buzzer which would announce to us when to return to the bar to pick up our food. The only thing we didn’t have yet was a breeze. It was still extremely hot, but our beverages were helping.
We saw orange trays, piled high with seafood spilling out of paper containers, as they weaved through the crowd. Fortunately, it didn’t take long before our lobster was making that happy buzzing sound letting us know food was coming our way. My husband went back up to the bar to retrieve our chowders and steamers and soon we were digging into our chowders.
I enjoyed my chowder which was incredibly thick, but the steamers threw me off a bit as they were seasoned. I’m a fan of plain and simple when it comes to steamers. Not that it stopped us from finishing them off, but it just wouldn’t have been my first choice. Of course, I would have known if I had just read the menu…
“Steamed maine clams (Steamers) Soft shell clams steamed in locally brewed ale w/onions, celery & lemon. Served w/dipping broth & drawn butter.”
The food at the Portland Lobster Company is fine, but the main reason I love to come here is for the views and vibe. As I’ve said before, seafood is always enjoyed best when eaten by the waterfront.
The other big draw at the Portland Lobster Company is that they have live music. The night we were there the Pete Kilpatrick Band was playing. They started around 7:00 pm and they played a mix of their own stuff along with some covers. They had a nice sound, great for a summer night by the water.
As the band kicked-off, the restaurants got progressively more crowded with lots of standing customers waiting and hoping for a table to open up. Fortunately, we began to feel some cool breezes which had finally started coming off the water and helped to ease the heat. As the breeze came up, the clouds overlooking the city became an intense mix of white, pink and black with some scattered heat lightening in the distance. It looked like summer thunder storms would be headed our way.
We relaxed with one final drink while listening to the music, and talking to people as they hovered by our table. Amazingly, no one swarmed our table as we got up. It was a very civilized changing of the guard.
|things to know|
|Restaurant||The Portland Lobster Company|
|Address||180 Commercial St., Portland, Maine|
|Website||Portland Lobster Company|
|Favorite ♥||The Views|