Sam Hayward, Fore Street
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.
288 Fore St.