Portland, ME: The dish that makes grown men weep
Because much of the menu at this bustling, open-plan restaurant in the Old Port District changes daily, every meal there can feel like a farewell: Goodbye, caramelized rabbit livers. You're delicious, but we can never meet again.
The wood-roasted mussels, however, are always on the menu. Possibly because there'd be riots if Fore Street owner-chef (and James Beard Award winner) Sam Hayward ever decided to remove them.
In a busy week, the restaurant cooks up more than 800 pounds of mussels from Casco Bay, roasting them in a garlicky butter sauce spiked with chiles and almonds—a little bit of Spain by way of Downeast—in the wood-fired oven.
It's a good idea to order the mussels as soon as you're seated, before you even look at the menu, lest you get distracted. (You'll need extra bread for dunking.)