Monday June 10, 2013 | 01:00 AM

The Saltwater Grille is everything a dockside eatery should be.  Its perch on the South Portland side of Portland Harbor overlooking an active marina off Front Street offers some pretty dazzling views of the Portland skyline.

The main dining room flanked by the open kitchen and active lounge offers a dramatic waterfront setting

When the weather cooperates, the  waterside dining deck is a very popular spot at lunch or dinner.  With comfortable chairs, sturdy umbrellas and tables spaced nicely apart, it’s one of the few waterfront establishments that offer comfort with a view to match.

Even on a nasty, rainy night at dusk, the views are still a thrill

I’ve been to the Saltwater Grille many times over the years, but last week’s visit was the first in a long time.  The high-ceilinged large dining room is very 1980s modern, and one could argue that it’s time for a redo. 

The menu, however, offers the perfect balance of seafood and grill fare, with meats and pasta well represented in addition to simply prepared fish dishes.  Compared to its neighbor, Joe’s Boat House, down the road, this is like the Pavillon of the inner harbor.

The night we were there, it was raining heavily.  Still, sitting inside at a window table, the sights were clear overlooking the large boat anchorage and the city views. 

We started off with a lobster quesadilla that was quite good.  The quesadilla was nicely grilled and crispy, holding big chunks of  tasty lobster.  The accompanying salsa and dish of sour cream were all that was needed. 

There's nothing new or novel about quesadillas per se, but this was a good example of one, with plenty of lobster

For an entrée, my dinner mate chose the evening’s special, Seafood Puttanesca, with lobster, shrimp, mussels and scallops over linguini.  It was served in a heavy olive-caper- tomato-based sauce.  For the most part the shellfish components were excellent except for a few of the mussels that were off.  In fact, some hadn’t even opened, which the kitchen shouldn’t have served.

This was an old-fashioned dish of haddock that was nicely done, enriched with a Parmesan crust and set over the creamiest Yukon gold potatoes

I opted for the Maine haddock, a delicious piece of fish with a Parmesan crust and served over a creamy mash of Yukon gold potatoes.  The accompanying string beans were cooked al dente, though the kitchen might have opted for local, seasonal asparagus, which would have been more appropriate.  (The Saltwater Grille doesn’t particularly emphasize locally sourced foods on the menu.)

All desserts are come from the bakery, Katie Made, which are certainly good but not outstanding.  Our espresso cheesecake was unexciting.

What surprised me were the price points on the menu.  Entrées are in the $25 to $30 range.  This is the norm  at such places as Five Fifty-Five, Back Bay Grille or Fore Street—and not the  domain of a casual waterside bistro.

For something completely different, the oceanfront dining deck at the Sea Glass Restaurant at Inn by the Sea offers a luxurious  setting for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  We chose to go for Sunday brunch this past weekend, on the one nice day that we had.  

The Inn by the Sea is certainly one of Maine's premier waterfront hotels

On a gorgeous Sunday late morning the dining deck is a splendid place for brunch overlooking the gardens and the ocean beyond

Overlooking the ocean, the setting and views are incomparable. The chairs are very comfortable and the place-settings and other touches are stylish.  The menu offers the usual suspects for brunch fare, from blueberry pancakes to variations on eggs Benedict.

The view from the Sea Glass dining deck

The outdoor dining room at the Sea Glass is a coveted spot to dine on a stellar day

My friend had the braised corned beef hash and I chose an eggs Benedict dish that had a base of crab cakes set over an avocado puree and topped by two perfectly poached eggs. It was very good.

Rather than the usual crusty croned beef hash, this version is more delicately done--a braise of meat, potatoes and aromatics

This was a very good variation ono eggs Benedict in which crab cakes are the base instead of bread and it's placed over a delicious avocado mousse 

This is definitely a place to consider as summer progresses with warmer weather because the setting is so beautiful..  At breakfast, lunch or dinner, sitting on the deck overlooking the ocean, the inn’s gardens and pool are a respite from urban scenery indeed.

The restaurant has received a lot of attention recently because of its chef, Michael Kaldrovich, whose culinary persona is  on the rise.  I’ll definitely go there for dinner this summer and will report back soon.



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John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.

In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.

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