June 13, 2013

Eat and Run: In'finiti Fermentation & Distillation, Portland

Old Port newcomer brings a menu full of delicious, beautifully composed dishes to the waterfront.

The first time I went to In’Finiti Fermentation & Distillation, I did it all wrong. I went by myself and got takeout. I didn’t sit and enjoy myself over light conversation and a refreshing beverage while taking in the marvelous scenery that the spot affords.

click image to enlarge

Coconut panna cotta with five-spice crisps and ginger sauce at In'Finiti Fermentation & Distillation in Portland.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

IN’FINITI FERMENTATION & DISTILLATION

WHERE: 250 Commercial St. Portland. 221-8889; infinitimaine.com

HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily

CHEAPEST GRUB: $5 each for house-made pretzel or Belgian frites

WAIT: 15 to 20 minutes

PARKING: On street.

HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: Yes

RATING: ****

To make matters worse, my takeout order of a pretzel crust pizza ($9) took almost 25 minutes and the place was fairly empty. Said pizza was disappointingly small for the price, although the artichoke, kalamata olives and fresh ricotta were tasty enough.

There’s also one with slow roasted tomato, parmigiano and cheddar for $7 and for $10 you can get one with fig and lemon paste, prosciutto, arugula and parmigiano. Good to share as an appetizer but no so much as the main focus of your meal.

So I thought it over and realized what I had to do: Go back there for a proper lunch because In’Finiti is not a “dash in for takeout” kind of place and it doesn’t need to be.

Redemption was found on my second visit with a friend. This time I went on a Saturday and although I love the rustic interior and views of their impressive fermentation and distillation equipment, it was too nice to sit inside, so we opted for the back deck and appreciated the terrific tables and benches made from reclaimed barrels.

The deck could use some umbrellas, maybe some plants and a little more pizazz, but I’ll cute In’Finiti some slack as they’ve only been open a few months. And heck, it is right on the water so there’s that.

This time around I ordered the pretzel crusted chicken sandwich ($7) which came with avocado, tomato, arugula and aioli on a Kaiser roll. It was moist, tender and a bit on the sinful side. Therefore I loved it.

For an additional $2, I couldn’t resist the Belgian frites. What makes a French fry Belgian? They’re blanched and immediately frozen and then deep dried which made them crispy on the outside and dare I say creamy on the inside. Delicious.

My dining companion opted for the grilled vegetable flatbread ($8) with fava bean hummus served on a Middle Eastern style bread that was grilled to perfection. She gave it high marks, reporting that it was neither too crunchy nor too soft and was filled with zucchini, eggplant, greens and the mild fava bean hummus. It was both fresh and filling.

She also enjoyed a kombucha from The Urban Farm Fermentory which In’Finiti has on tap for $4 and said it was a refreshing alternative to soda (but it does contain alcohol).

Items on my “to try next time I go” include the In’Finiti Burger ($13) because I saw one at the next table and it was calling out to me. Then there’s the tuna flat bread for $8 and an $8 bratwurst roll. Then of course there’s the dazzling cocktail menu. I’ll leave that to you to discover but trust me, it’s a beautiful thing.

In’Finiti, I’m sorry we got off on the wrong foot, but rest assured it’s all good now. Very good indeed.

The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $10.

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