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Networking: Harding Lee Smith
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Go ahead, try and find another restaurant scene as eclectic yet accessible as what you’ll find in Portland, Maine. Then remember that this quaint seaside city boasts only about 66,000 residents within its borders (203,000 in the urban area). Of the 250 or so restaurants in the city proper, nobody owns and operates more than Harding Lee Smith, whose “Room” realm is winning over locals and travelers alike.
Smith, 44, has a simple philosophy regarding opening new restaurants, and that’s to fill a hole. The understated favorite Front Room was the first traditional restaurant to open in the Munjoy Hill residential neighborhood in 2005. Grill Room (2008) is hands-down the best steakhouse in a town bereft of them, while Corner Room (2009) is the only Italian restaurant in the touristy Old Port. But his shiny new pearl, Boone’s Fish House & Oyster Room right on the city’s waterfront, is something Portland truly needed: A top quality, on-the-water, seafood-centric restaurant that appeals to those in high heels (Seafood Newburg, served in a toasted popover, goes for USD 31/EUR 23) and flip-flops (a half-pint of whole-belly fried clams is USD 15/EUR 11).
The original Boone’s, established in the 1920s, fell into disrepair after decades of neglect, but Smith and his team have injected life into the space with tasteful décor and tasty fish dishes.
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