Sometimes recommendations are not good. Unfortunately, that was the case for J’s Oyster in Portland, Maine. We asked a local record store owner where we should go for great seafood for lunch and that is how we ended up at J’s Oyster. It’s located in Portland’s Old Port and was extremely convenient because we were going Whale Watching with Odyssey Whale Watch and it was right across from the restaurant. There was a wait for lunch, which is always a good sign, but we were in a hurry to make it to our boat on time so we sat at the bar. We were given menu’s that had seen better days. I took a picture of my menu instead of my husband’s because his had what I assumed to be some kind of brown sauce stuck to the cover. We each ordered Clam Chowder, which made my stomach turn when I saw an employee take a container of chowder out of the fridge, ladle it into a bowl and put it in the microwave for two minutes. Every time someone ordered chowder they would take the container out of the fridge and microwave it. First, the thought of microwaving what I hope to be fresh clams is really revolting to me. I try to never use my microwave at home. Second, how can a restaurant that was as busy as J’s not have a big pot of chowder on a stove in the kitchen. Wouldn’t that be more efficient? I ordered a crab roll for lunch that was served with mayo on the side. Usually, a lobster or crab roll is already dressed before it makes its way onto a plate. I had to squeeze mayo from a Hellmann’s packet onto my sandwich and was unsettled with globs of mayo all over my roll. My husband ordered scallops served over noodles in a lemon butter sauce and said that he loved it.
Our first night in Portland, Maine we really wanted to have seafood on the water. We stayed at the Pomegranate Inn and one of the employees gave us several recommendations for good seafood and said that Boone’s Fish House & Oyster Room had recently opened and was owned by a guy that had several other restaurants in Portland so it should be great. We sat outside on the water even though the rest of their guests stayed inside. We really wanted to soak up as much of the Atlantic as we could while we were there. Our waitress was great and gave us several recommendations on where we could go hear live music after dinner. We started our meal with the Scallops ‘n Bacon, which are usually served over fish chowder, but the night we ate there they were served over a fluffy sweet potato puree with bacon lardons decorating the perimeter of the plate. We also ordered an appetizer from their Oyster Room, which I highly recommend because they have some very interesting items on that menu. We had Wood Oven Mussels, with bacon, garlic, ginger and creamy soy. I ordered a Lobster Roll, which was great but I decided afterwards that lobster is not my favorite type of seafood. My husband ordered the Steamed Lobster, which he devoured.
Ina Garten is my go to person for delicious recipes. Her Scallops Provencal are no exception. They are simple and full of flavor.
- 1 pound fresh bay or sea scallops
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- All-purpose flour, for dredging
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 cup chopped shallots (2 large)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1 lemon, cut in 1/2
If you’re using bay scallops, keep them whole. If you’re using sea scallops, cut each 1 in half horizontally. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss with flour, and shake off the excess.
In a very large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over high heat until sizzling and add the scallops in 1 layer. Lower the heat to medium and allow the scallops to brown lightly on 1 side without moving them, then turn and brown lightly on the other side. This should take 3 to 4 minutes, total. Melt the rest of the butter in the pan with the scallops, then add the shallots, garlic, and parsley and saute for 2 more minutes, tossing the seasonings with the scallops. Add the wine, cook for 1 minute, and taste for seasoning. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon juice.