"...New Family Favorite"
"What a lovely, gracious staff! We came in on a Saturday afternoon with 14 people and no reservation. It was an impromptu celebration of our son and his betrothed's news. Your staff welcomed and immediately set up a table for us. Not to be outdone by the view, the food was excellent.
Thanks for hosting our joyful afternoon. You're our new family favorite!"
Joel & Lisa
WOW!!", is what my husband and I are still saying about our evening at SWG. Because it was Valentine's Evening, we anticipated that the service and food would not be up to your usual "mile high standards", but we could not have been more wrong! The service was exemplary, the food was perfect and we were even serenaded by a fabulous BBS Quartet! Our evening could not have been more perfect and even though we dine with you often all year long, we will be back next Valentine's Day! Many thanks for all the hard work by the entire staff - you all made it look effortless!
Food: Excellent Decor: Excellent Service: Excellent
The patio is a favorite hang-out whenever the weather is agreeable. this is the one restaurant i can actually get my 21year old son to leave the video games for . . . need i say any more???
HOW IT RATES
...I do recommend the Saltwater Grille. The setting is exceptional, the fish is fresh, and the grille-ing is expert.
Food: Very Good Decor: Excellent Service: Excellent
the view of the portland skyline is outstanding. i always love the different (and lengthy) specials list that they have. i have always had a tasty meal there no matter what type of meal i chose to have. fabulous for out of town entertaining!
Maine Sunday Telegram
Saltwater Grille: Expert grilling, unbeatable location
By DENISE COMPTON
Saltwater Grille 231 Front St., South Portland 799-5400
Food: 4.8 stars
Atmosphere: 5 stars
Dinner hours: lunch 11am-3pm, dinner 5 pm to 9:30 pm seven days a week
Credit cards: Visa/MC & Amex
Price range: entrees $16 to $23
Vegetarian dishes: yes
Wheelchair access: yes
The bottom line: Expertly grilled fresh seafood, steaks, and chicken served in a picturesque Maine harbor setting.
Location, location, location. The Saltwater Grille offers a spectacular sunset view of Portland harbor and the skyline. The harborside open deck is lovely with white cotton sun umbrellas, and the screened porch is furnished with white wicker. The spacious dining room and bar with their hardwood floors, cathedral stone fireplace, slate blue walls and comfortable couches are quite neighborly and nautical. Sunlight pours in from the bay windows. Steaks, fish and chicken are expertly grilled; it's what the Saltwater Grille does best. The menu is upscale and imaginative, but on a Saturday night in August, the restaurant was a little too busy to attend to details.
There was a short wait for a dinner table. We were seated in the bar and served an appetizer and wine immediately. By the time our musselsSpring Point mussels arrived, our table was ready. While the waitress assisted us in moving to our harborside table, we were asked to settle our bar bill before moving to the dining room. This was awkward with a hot appetizer waiting.
Our mussels ($7.95) were steamed in a fragrant lobster, tomato, garlic and shallot sauce. They were visibly steaming; this broth was comparable to a sweet bouillabaisse and was served with half a loaf of soft Italian bread and whipped butter. Excellent
The wine list ranges from Tommasi Pinot Grigio for $25 a bottle to Antares Merlot, California, for $42 a bottle. Dom Perignon lists for $150 a bottle. The diverse wine list includes varieties from France, Australia, Argentina, Italy, Chile and New Zealand. The Saltwater Grille offers 10 select wines by the glass. I tried the Heritage Cotes Du Rhone for $4.95, which was served at room temperature and was mild and even in flavor.
Our dinner had two low points. The first was our second appetizer, a hopeful, kid-friendly choice: barbecue pulled chicken tostaditos ($6.95). I will use the words from the menu to explain this concoction. "Tri-colored corn tortilla layered with pulled chicken, black beans, corn and topped with melted cheddar served with a grilled golden pineapple and red flame grape chutney." The whole was less than the sum of its parts. There was nothing wrong with the concept, the flavors or the ingredients; it was just visually unappetizing and not particularly tasty. Less said the better.
The second disappointment was the house mesclun salad. I was served a wilted salad and I checked with the waitress, wondering if I may had inadvertently ordered wilted greens. She quickly agreed to ask the kitchen if this in fact was the case. In minutes she returned with a fresh version of chilled mesclun greens with spiced walnuts, Stilton crumbled with red onions and a tangy sun-dried tomato dressing served on the side.
The volume of food coming out of this kitchen is remarkable. The Saltwater Grille can seat around 150 people, and the place was packed. The timing of the serving of our courses was uneven. Attention to detail and quality control is a challenge when the numbers are high.
The grill itself is visible from the dining room, and three, if not four, line cooks are grilling and turning out some fantastic entrees. The evening's special of grilled swordfish with anahei pepper and fresh peach salsa ($17.95) was a summer tropical feast and visually a pleasure. This dish was beautifully arranged; a large portion of expertly grilled swordfish was topped with a sweet and spicy peach salsa with minced red onion and bits of the anahei pepper. This was served over rice with a few tender steamed green beans, summer squash and zucchini. It was a fine recommendation from our efficient, though busy, waitress.
We also tried the Maine steamed lobster ($22.95), which was a full lobster bake complete with sweet white corn, french fries, and cole slaw. The lobster, which was at least a 1-pounder, was served steaming hot with drawn butter atop a generous portion of Maine mussels. The cole slaw was coarsely grated, the fries were crisp, and the lobster dinner was quite satisfying.
Chicken piccata ($13.95) was another sample of expert grilling. A good-sized boneless breast was nicely charred and topped with a mild roasted red pepper sauce. This tender chicken was served on a bed of sweet, creamy mashed red potatoes and a medley of grilled summer vegetables.
Desserts are not in print, which makes it a bit harder to decide, especially when the restaurant is busy. However, our waitress was most willing to tell us about the in-house pastry chef and to repeat, slowly, the wonderful special desserts. Temptations included an English pudding with caramel and white chocolate, a triple chocolate torte, a lemon chiffon cheesecake and a tri-berry torte.
We tried the lemon chiffon cheesecake, which was a fine 1950s rendition of one of Betty Crocker's gourmet chiffon cakes. It was a huge portion, and the cake was ever so light and creamy. It was full of fresh, tart lemon flavor, topped with whipped-cream roses and a fresh lemon wedge, and drizzled with lemon curd. Beautiful and luscious.
The tri-berry torte was full of blueberries, strawberries and raspberries topped with whipped cream. The torte's cake was itself sweetened with sugar and cinnamon, and again it was a substantial portion and a visual delight. Both desserts were $4.95.
The entrees at this waterfront location define the Saltwater Grille. Desserts are a close second, and the mussels are worthy of a return visit.
The menu offers more intriguing entrees, including a potato-encrusted haddock with thyme lemon butter, a fisherman's stew of fresh seafood and shellfish in a creamy saffron broth over linguine, a grilled filet mignon and scallops carbonara.
Despite the wilted greens and gargantuan tostaditos, I do recommend the Saltwater Grille. The setting is exceptional, the fish is fresh, and the grilling is expert.
Denise Compton is a free-lance writer who lives in Yarmouth. Ratings are based on a five-star scale.