“An Evening in Athens”

Portland, Maine is noted for its seafood, since it is on a large bay next to the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, on this trip, we stayed in the Old Waterfront neighborhood, now full of  hotels, shops and restaurants. Two years ago, when I was on my halibut search, I had excellent halibut at Scales on the water. This time, however, we had a chance to have an authentic Greek dinner and chose to go to Emilitsa, a much praised place.

When we lived in Portland, Oregon, we had a favorite Greek restaurant, Johnny’s, a no frills, family operation with outstanding food. We ate there for years until the younger members of the family decided to go into other work and the place closed. Since then we had failed to find any offerings that even approached Johnny’s. Although there are many Greeks in the area, they all seem to run pizza parlors. There is a smattering of almost Greek places, but the only authentic food we have found here is at the annual Greek Orthodox festivals. Great food, but sitting outdoors at a long table eating off paper plates doesn’t quite produce the fine dining experience.

Emilitsa had a small focused menu, and I chose grilled lamb chops, something I hadn’t eaten in years. They tasted perfect, and only my residual table manners from my English grandmother prevented me from gnawing on the bones. But I was surely tempted! Dessert was an enormous piece of light lemon cheesecake, half of which we had for lunch the next day.

Portland ranks high as a walkable city, and we were able to park our car and walk everywhere. The streets are usually cobbled, the sidewalks bricks, so I had to watch my footing occasionally, and finally switched to my sneakers. Art abounds, people are friendly, food is excellent, lodging comfortable. I fear for its future. My experience from Portland, Oregon showed me that a place can get loved to death as people flock there, changing its character forever. Signs of new construction abounded, and perhaps it will eventually lose some of its big town/small city feel. Right now, however, it remains a wonderful place to spend a few days.

 

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