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Sam Hayward, Fore Street | Portland, Maine Restaurants

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The plates that come from Sam Hayward’s Fore Street kitchen carry strong Mediterranean influences, but the ingredients and simplicity are undeniably coastal Maine.

Sam Hayward, Fore Street

Sam Hayward, Fore Street | Portland Maine Restaurants

Heath Robbins

The plates that come from Sam’s kitchen carry strong Mediterranean influences, but the ingredients and simplicity are undeniably coastal Maine. Fore Street’s signature dish, for example — mussels with garlic and almonds — gives a nod to French and Spanish cuisine, but the orange nuggets of cold-water mussels coaxed from their blue-black shells are all about the briny seas around Coombs Island in Gurnet Strait, where they’re harvested by hand.

Fore Street’s many-windowed dining room is rustic and minimally decorated, but like the food, it’s a well-thought-out operation: comfortable and natural with exposed brick, rich wooden tables, and an open kitchen centered around a wood-burning oven that reaches 800 degrees and a grill that glows from the live flames beneath its grates.

Among the cooks here there’s a precisely choreographed hustle — one that comes from experience, yet, centered around that fiery gleam, somehow evokes a primal dance. It’s all part and parcel of dining at Fore Street.

FORE STREET. 288 Fore St. 207-775-2717 forestreet.biz

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