The North Point has been on my list for a while now. Our first night in Portland we walked down Silver Street and heard the bustling sounds of swing music playing in the night. We followed the music and stumbled upon The North Point. We poked our heads in, warm dim lights filled the space of this swanky little lounge. We wanted to grab a seat at their large bar, but we noticed (while we were sticking our heads in...) that it was packed! The bar and tables all full, Even standing room was limited...let's come back later—and later we did.
I desperately wanted to come back the next night, the atmosphere was so warm & inviting, and the sound of swing music just reminded me of Sunday nights at my grandparent's house. I needed to have a drink there! Luckily we were able to get in the next night. As soon as we entered and I smelt that lively air—I was hooked.
Right as we stepped inside, the host (Daniel, the owner as we later found out) treated us like royalty. We were looking around for a spot at the bar (with it being the centerpiece of the restaurant) but no luck. however we were graciously seated at a table. He made sure we were greeted & taken care of the second we entered—which is so important! I‘m sure others may disagree, but the host is the most important aspect of a restaurant. They set the tone for the customer’s whole experience, and especially for first-time diners, a good greeting as they enter starts the night off right. The owner, Daniel, passed with flying colors. He was warm, friendly, inviting—plus, it being the end of Labor Day weekend in Portland? I'm sure he was mentally & physically done but showed no signs as such. Hospitality at it’s finest.
The North Point is a funky little tapas bar located on Silver Street in Portland, ME It was just enough outside the craziness that is Portland’s Commercial Street. The North Point has a cool, cozy & relaxed atmosphere with room for about 40. Their 12 seat L-shaped bar took center stage, pushed against the right wall with a large angled mirror behind it. At the end of the bar, next to the front windows, a couple of couches make an intimate corner space with two 4-tops. Opposite of the bar they had a collection of deuces with a shared banquette, easy to push tables together to accommodate larger parties. Finally, there was one floating 4-top right off the corner of the bar. With all these tables in such a long narrow space, you would think it would seem crowded—wrong. I'm the queen of claustrophobia (why do you think I need a home with a bunch of windows?), I didn't feel cramped one bit. Two large angled mirrors hung on opposite walls, one behind the bar and the other on the left by the entrance. The mirrors coupled with the low-profile chairs, made the space feel 10x bigger than it was. I don’t know about anyone else, but I definitely spent more time looking at the decor, than I did noticing the table next to us.
This space is eclectic as all hell (there were statued roosters throughout every corner, even a porcelain pig wearing sunglasses above the bar). We were absolutely enthralled. On the left, was a gallery wall full of odds & ends. Old photographs, license plates, flowers, paintings, (roosters), and other artwork all artfully arranged next to the large mirror. The opposing wall has exposed brick, with a tall chalkboard of specials, with more artwork filling any gaps. The large mirror behind the bar was angled down, giving you an almost top down view of the room. Bottles of liquor, wine, statues of roosters & cherubs surrounded the mirror, providing guests with an endless supply of visual delight. The dimly lit atmosphere glistened with red lamps reflecting down on their high tin ceiling. Behind the banquette, dimmed LED lights behind the seats, beckoned you to sit down, and really set the tone of the whole restaurant. Once we sat down, surrounded by this beautifully designed space, I just felt the need to put a refined cocktail to my lips.
So I got a cocktail—their Negroni. Served with Hendricks Gin, Campari, Sweet Vermouth, and paired with brandied cherries & a burnt orange twist. Need I say yum?? The North Point arranged the cocktails into four categories: N.P. Originals, Classics, Fruity, and Sweet. They also provided a selection of other liqueurs, single malts, & port wines that just fit the atmosphere. I HAD to imbibe. Like a good ole fashioned tawny port. Now I've always been a tawny port kind of gal. So much so that I literally have a bottle of tawny port on a shelf in my bathroom specifically for when I take my bubble baths (true story). Chris ended up getting Lillet on the rocks. Lillet is a fortified wine and can be considered a sweet vermouth. It adds a citrusy & bitter element to cocktails that you would only get from an Italian Apertivo. Chris getting Lillet? Well, even he couldn't help himself. He was looking at the beer list (which was taped on a beer mug, and their wine list on a wine bottle...how cool & different is that!), but as soon as he entered this gem, he knew he needed something that matched well with the decor. So Lillet is was. we sipped & savored into the evening, listened to the most enrapturing music that graced our eardrums that day (seeing as how we were in Portland, on Labor Day Weekend, we’d been hearing a lot of clubby music from the early 2000s...). It was truly great music that just perfectly fit the ambiance that surrounded us.
Now, we weren't going to get food here, we actually ate at Boone's earlier (get their steamers, they’ll melt your tastebuds). But looking around at all the satisfied diners, and looking at their menu, it was clear The North Point knew a thing or two about great food & pairings. By the first page, my mouth was already watering. They offered the most delicious-sounding charcuterie plate with, get this, 26 different meat and cheeses to choose from! Boom, done. I'm an absolute sucker when it comes to a good meat and cheese plate (and so is my whole family), this might be the best one yet. They had cheeses like Black River Blue Cheese from Wisconsin, Camembert au Poire from France, Ubriacone from Italy, and good old fashioned New England Cheddar from Maine. We went with Manchego cheese from Spain (one of my favorite cheeses...I have many favorite cheeses...) and their Mango-Ginger Stilton Cheese from the UK. I got to tell you about this cheese. So Stilton cheese is made in only 3 counties in the UK and comes in two varieties blue (your typical crumbly blue cheese) & white (made the same way but without the addition of the specific mold...or mould since it’s British...)This cows milk white Stilton cheese was so heavenly. It was soft, yet crumbly like cheesecake, with dried mango & crystallized ginger. The sweetness of the cheese & mango paired perfectly with the spiciness of the ginger. I loved it so much I was considering asking the owner if I could buy that cheese off of him—seriously THAT good. Along with the two cheeses, we got the smoked duck breast (other selections they offered were chorizo, grilled kielbasa, Iberico salami, black truffle salami, truffle mousse pate and much, much more!) The duck was lightly salty, chilled, and superbly decadent. Our charcuterie plate was also served with toasted bread points, dijon mustard, spicy house-pickled onions (I was obsessed with), soft-cooked egg, cornichons, granny smith apple slices, and fig jam. I was over the moon with their housemade pickled onions. This was the first time I’ve seen a charcuterie board where the pickled onions were spicy! Now, for someone that appreciates spice—this was truly a happy surprise. And coupled with that mango-ginger Stilton cheese? A match made in heaven. Chris pointed out how perfectly the soft eggs were cooked. When he was working back in the 20 Railroad Street kitchen, he found out just how difficult perfectly done soft-boiled eggs can be—it's an art in itself, and The North Point really nailed it.
Besides the charcuterie board, The North Point had a menu as diverse as their decor. They also had options like nachos, toasted brie wheel, flatbread sandwiches, crepes, salads, tacos, and even vegetables and meat served on skewers! Although we didn't get any of the other food, every single guest around us sounded oh so satisfied with theirs—I even saw a guy rub his tummy and smile in silence... Now, body language is huge, and just by looking around, I know this place makes some fine food. When we come back (and we will be back) we will make sure we enter with empty stomachs.
The owner, Daniel, has got himself quite a sweet spot with an even better vision. The atmosphere at The North Point is something I will never forget. The drinks make me want to try every single one, and the food was refined & expertly prepared. All in all, it just left me wanting more of everything. The North Point has all the class, without the stuffiness of pretension. Daniel greeted us with open arms and treated myself (and everyone else that walked through his doors, I was watching..) like royalty. He's a respectful, down to earth man that truly wants you to feel invited & comfortable. We were greeted like kings & queens, but when we left we felt like long lost friends. Friends that will have your back no matter what. The warmth of The North Point was truly unforgettable. Me and Chris are counting down the days to roll through Portland, ME again. Next time, I'll make sure I enter famished so I can try everything on their delicious and artfully designed menu.
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