Last week Phil & I headed out to Boston and onto Portland, Maine to present the latest Scarlet Opus trend forecast to our client team at SAPPI. We loaded 3 months worth of work by the team onto a memory stick, packed a capsule wardrobe into a python print suitcase and made our way to Heathrow airport. This time we thankfully had a really good flight out to Boston with Virgin Atlantic:
With a couple of days to spare before our meetings we took time out for sightseeing as well as to prepare for the trend presentation. And where is the best place to prepare for a presentation? Poolside of course!!!
Sunday = shopping. We went to the Commercial Street waterfront area as well as Downtown to take in the sights and sounds of Portland’s shopping district. Check out the photo of the waterfront fence covered in padlocks put there by couples who are locked in love! They started appearing on the fence next to Portland Lobster Company last Valentine’s Day and have been added to ever since (you can learn more about LoveLocks here – it might inspire you to start something similar in your area): From Commerical Street we walked up Exchange Street and found several great shops: STA (Second Time Around) clothing & accessories store led to a fabulous gold knit jumper & jewelled thumb ring purchase; At 97 Exchange Street we saw a wonderful window display at the botanical perfumery 2 Note and were delighted to discover their signature fragrance is called OPUS I; We saw fantastic Crosley Cruiser Briefcase Turntables in Urban Outfitters on Middle Street and vowed to buy one next time we’re in America. We enjoyed wine, cheese & charcuterie platters whilst I read through my notes at a little French place called The Merry Table on Wharf Street:
The last time we were in Portland the Regency Hotel & Spa on Milk Street was undergoing major renovation work. Built in 1895 as an armory for Maine’s National Guard, it became a hotel in 1987 and the recent refurbishment was completed in time to mark the hotel’s 25th anniversary. We went along to take a look and Phil really liked the Outdoor Retreat area where the full Armory Lounge and Twenty Milk St. restaurant menus are served outdoors – “To the rear and sides this building is nothing remarkable – a large red brick warehouse shape with the only point of interest being what appears to be apartments with balconies at the very top; these are of course the luxury hotel rooms. However, the front façade of the building is spectacular; it faces inland and therefore also a lovely, hidden surprise, whilst you travel up from the waterfront either side of the building. A lush garden grows up the face of the building, and either side of the entrance canopy growing wild, are two small gardens with large rocks in each. A wide, cobbled driveway sweeps across the front of the building where two, or three of the hotels own chauffeur driven cars are parked – they resemble CIA blacked out limos! Beyond the driveway is another very pleasant garden area scattered with tables, chairs and parasols where you can sit and enjoy drinks & meals, leaving you looking rather chic as you gaze upon, or politely ignore, the passers-by!”
The Corner Room at 110 Exchange Street was a great find (recommended by Nicholas from Sappi). We arrived just in time for Happy Hour (4-6pm) … you can’t argue with $3 a glass Prosecco and a selection of Free antipasti:
Phil had a couple of little niggles but otherwise loved this Italian Kitchen & Bar – “The Corner Room layout and décor was excellent with an industrial warehouse feel and wonderful open kitchen areas (there were three), you could even sit on stools at the serving bar watching the chef’s at work at two of them. The drink selection was very Italian – Desaronno, Limoncella and a beautiful Prosecco. The service was friendly but could have been more attentive and a little quicker – our Bruschetta order had clearly been forgotten. Happy hour was however stunning, with drinks at 1/3rd price and free food samples it quickly became busy. The menu food was very fresh, very authentic, very well presented and great value for money. If there is something to improve on the menu it is desserts; they are authentic in name only and not that well made. But, putting aside my two little criticisms, The Corner Room is one of the very best Italian restaurants I’ve been to and should be on your list of ‘places to go’ if ever you find yourself in Portland.”
On our last evening in Portland we were treated to a truly memorable dining experience (beautifully organised by Katie at SAPPI – thank you x) at Diamond’s Edge Restaurant, Diamond Cove on Great Diamond Island. I’ll let Phil describe the trip – “Take a ferry ride from the waterfront in Portland across the bay out to Diamond Cove and you’ll see some spectacular houses on a myriad of islands in the archipelago just offshore. You might glimpse (as we did) beautiful bald eagles in the trees, a few seals and maybe, just maybe a whale! The ride to Diamond Cove on Great Diamond Island takes around 40 minutes and there is plenty to see to keep you occupied on the way. When you arrive the setting for the restaurant (try to sit at an outside table between May & September) is fantastic, you sit looking at the neighbouring island where right on the beach is an intriguing house built underground into the cliff. This restaurant is all about location, location, location – and that is enough to demand that you go at least once during your visit.”