Portland, Maine is a small coastal city filled with heaps of gastronomic delights, but few compare to Walter’s. Although my home base is half-way across the world, I’m a long-time customer of this terrific eatery. My mother sparked my love for Walter’s when I was a teenager during our visits to Maine. Dinner here was often my reward for being her patient day-long shopping companion.
In those days, Walter’s was a small, candlelit two-floor restaurant with exposed brick walls on Exchange Street in the heart of Portland’s Old Port. But as of October 2009, Walter’s moved a few blocks away to a larger venue on Portland Square. And even though I love the charm of the old location, I understand the restaurant’s necessity to evolve and expand – and it was, by all means, a necessity.
There were very few instances in which I can remember Walter’s not being at full capacity, but now they are much better equipped to meet the astonishing demand they’ve created. The new décor is classic with a twist of chic, and their menu reflects this polish. At Walter’s classic dishes are infused with Asian, Caribbean and Mediterranean flair.
My top pick for starters is the crab cakes with roasted garlic chive aioli, which melt in your mouth. Rare is it to find crab cakes that aren’t too weighed down in mayonnaise, but Chef Jeff Buerhaus gets it right. When I was younger, I used to jump at either a chicken or steak dish, but a “California vegetarian,” I tend to opt for a seafood dish such as the shrimp with a hint Korean pizzazz or the salmon laced with a hint of sweetness. And if that’s not enough to tide you over, have a look at their extensive wine list and the mouth-watering dessert menu.
Walter’s maintains its appeal by diversifying and changing their menu seasonally, using only the ingredients that are most plentiful at the time. Should you ever find yourself in the Portland area, make your way to Walter’s. And if you’re lucky, the succulent Blueberry Guinness Cheesecake will still be on offer…
*Walter’s is located at 2 Portland Square. Tel: 207-871-9258. Website: www.waltersportland.com. Dinner including a glass of wine, starter, main dish and dessert runs about $40-50/person. Photo courtesy of the Walter’s press kit.