five fifty-five

555 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101
tel: 207.761.0555

Dinner served from 5-close, seven days a week
Brunch every Sunday from 9:30-2:00

Portland, Maine is one of those cities in America that still holds the hidden gem status.  Most people don’t make it out to Portland due to its location and size, but for those who do make it up to Maine are usually pleasantly surprised at how much Portland does have to offer for a smaller city.

The downtown area has the vibrant energy of a seaport.  With seafood restaurants left and right offering some of the best lobster in America to local bars bustling with locals and Southern Maine University students offering many of the local brews, Portland combines that quaint hometown feel with an urban setting.  One restaurant in Portland that I tried recently skews on the higher end scale (higher end for Portland that is – there are no Tao Restaurant style places in Portland).

five fifty-five (yes, they spell the entire thing in lowercase) is considered by many to be one of the best restaurants in Portland.  I’ll say this up front: for Portland, the restaurant is one of the nicer places to have a fancy night out.  But don’t expect it to be anything ridiculously fancy.  The venue itself is very intimate with low lighting and a lot of wood making up the furniture and walls.  The wine list is quite extensive, almost surprisingly so. But if you’re a beer person looking for some local Maine brews you’ll want to head to another place since that list is far shorter.

The menu is pricey and although I’d like to say that the food is worth the price – I’m afraid I can’t.  That isn’t to say that the food isn’t excellent; it’s just a tad overpriced in my opinion.  I started out my meal with the “how do you like them apples” salad which was quite a nice starter of fresh greens, crisp apples, and perfectly toasted/salted walnuts. But for $11, I kind of expected a little more.

For the entree, I tried the lobster mac & cheese which was very tasty.  Again, it just wasn’t $31 tasty.  I will say that I was surprisingly filled by the portion.  It came out in a very small bowl and my first reaction was “This is it?”  But you know how Indian food comes out in a small bowl and you think you’re getting ripped off until you finish 2/3 of it and realize how full you actually are?  Same scenario.

Another item on the menu that I tasted is a nice Maine salmon wrapped in a leaf of some sort.  Its accompanied by several toppings (radishes, cashews, peppers) in small dishes for you to mix and match as you see fit and a portion of sauteed kale n the side.  The fish was a little dry, which I found surprising, but overall with the kale and toppings sides the dish wasn’t half bad.

So while I enjoyed what I ate, I’ll probably stick to Maine does best, the lobster shacks, for my meals.  five fifty-five doesn’t live up to the hype and is just little too overpriced in my opinion.  But that being said, its still a nice place to go if you want to have a classy night out in Portland.  The wine list is very good and the food is done well enough that you’ll be able to overlook the fact that you’re spending a few dollars extra than you should.  Grade: B-

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