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“Okay, but not where I would take out of town guests” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Boone's Fish House & Oyster Room

Boone's Fish House & Oyster Room
86 Commercial St, on Custom House Wharf, Portland, ME 04101-4708 (Formerly Boone's Restaurant)
2077745725
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Ranked #231 of 540 Restaurants in Portland
Price range: $10 - $30
Cuisines: American, Seafood, Oyster Bar, Fish & Chips
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Restaurant details
Good for: Outdoor seating, Scenic view
Dining options: Reservations, Late Night
Description: From the creator of Portland’s “Rooms” restaurants - Seafood on the Wharf. Boone’s Fish House and Oyster Room is a historic restaurant located on the Portland, ME waterfront. Just steps from Portland’s Old Port, Boone’s combines a perfect seaside location with the freshest local seafood for an unforgettable dining experience.The original Boone’s was established in 1898 and ran continuously until 2006. Now fully restored, and re-imagined, it boasts 2 beautiful decks, upstairs and down, serving steamed Maine lobster, wood-grilled fish & fried clams seven days a week. Upstairs holds the Oyster Room, with the ability to hold private functions of up to 150 guests and serving a raw bar and wood-fired flatbreads. Harding Lee Smith is Chef & owner with Bryan Dame as the Executive Chef and Sean Doherty as Chef de Cuisine of the Oyster Room.Discover a far-reaching array of seafood, much displayed on ice for your choosing. Pick your own lobster and, on the menu, you’ll find an extensive selection of local seafood like Maine oysters, Maine clams and fresh fish entrees. Watch the boats bring in the day’s catch while you enjoy the oyster bar or crack into a steaming hot lobster with sweet, drawn butter. For an authentic taste of Portland, the New England clam chowder or a famous lobster roll will get you started!Boone’s offers the real Maine dining experience just as it did when it originally opened. Boone’s combines a modern, rustic atmosphere with the best seafood in Portland. The spacious yet cozy dining room makes Boone’s an ideal destination for enjoying a seafood dinner with your whole family, sharing an intimate meal on a special occasion, or hosting a gathering or small event. While you’re visiting Portland, make Boone’s your first choice for enjoying a fresh Maine seafood dinner in a convenient, indoor/outdoor, and waterfront setting.
Portland, Maine
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
17 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Okay, but not where I would take out of town guests”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 2, 2014

My husband and I tried Boone's when they opened this past summer for a late lunch and it was fine, especially sitting outside by the water. Nothing that really knocked our socks off, but again, it was just lunch and we were outside, so who can complain?

We returned this weekend with some guests for dinner. We got there at 6:30 for a 6:45 reservation and were told the table wasn't ready yet but we could wait at the upstairs bar. That was fine, so we did. And we waited, and we waited, and we waited. Finally, at 7:10, I went down to the hostess station and asked if our table was ready yet. She said that it was being cleared and would be ready shortly. Maybe 10 minutes later an assistant hostess (who seemed pretty clueless) came up and directed us to a table that was right beside us in the pub area and which had been empty since we arrived at 6:30!!! No one had been sitting there at all. So, we were finally seated.

With regard to the menu, it's confused. It's almost like the restaurant has an identity crisis. There is fried food, but then there are flatbread pizzas, and then there are sandwiches, and then there are expensive entrees ($25-$29 range). And the way it was presented, on a glossy one page (almost looked like something you'd see at a local diner), was just not appealing. My husband ordered the seafood and meat pizza. He said that there was no meat on it and although it was all seafood it was "mushy". I had the scallops la plancha, which was one of the seafood specials for the night. It was okay, but only okay. I think there were 3 or 4 of the big scallops over a giant hash brown potato and spinach. The rest of our party had fish of various sorts and the person who had the swordfish said it was, in fact, very good. We had an appetizer of tuna tartare, which actually was surprisingly a lot of tuna, BUT then we were provided with 3 (yes, 3) little bread crackers with which to eat about a cup's worth of tartare. We did request more and the server brought of some additional crackers, but there should have been more in the first place for that amount of tuna. It was very good, otherwise.

Some plusses: the wood smoke smell from the open wood oven is great. Makes it feel really homey and like you are going to get some really great tasting food. The bartender was attentive and pleasant and prompt as we were waiting for our table (which was ready, apparently). This might be a good place for a casual lunch or perhaps drinks and appetizers but I wouldn't go for dinner again. Our server, on the other hand, was adequate, so no complaints there.

Negatives: the junior hostess (or whatever she was) had zero personality, and didn't seem to want to take us upstairs initially when the senior hostess asked her to - even making a face at the senior hostess when she was asked. And then I think from that point she pretty much forgot about us until I went downstairs again and reminded the senior hostess we were still waiting after almost 40 minutes. Also, the bathrooms were filthy. It's too bad, because they would have been fine if someone cleaned them once in a while. There was toilet paper in multiple spots on the floor of each bathroom, water on the toilet seat, what looked like water where someone "missed" on the floor in front of one of the toilets and they were COLD! After my first visit to the bathroom, I really didn't want to go back again, although I had to out of necessity. They are unisex so that could explain the drying urine on the floor in front of the one toilet. Pretty gross, and it wasn't like the upstairs was so busy that someone couldn't have gone in an spruced them up every so often.

I have now been to three of this chef/owner's restaurants and I'm just not impressed. It feels like he is mass-producing marginal restaurants in Portland to lure in tourists who don't know any better. The food and service at this restaurant really need work, because the building itself is pretty cool and has a great vibe. There are far better chefs in town and southern Maine who could really turn this into something great. And, of course, hire junior hostesses who actually want to do their jobs.

  • Visited February 2014
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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Rating summary
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    Service
    Value
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Portland, Maine, United States
Senior Contributor
47 reviews 47 reviews
29 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“I’m not sure how I feel. I will come back.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 2, 2014

The first thing I need to stop doing is comparing this place the The Grill Room. It’s not and it will never be. The newest “room” is massive! They did a fantastic job with the space, upstairs & downstairs each equipped with very large nice bar plus two full decks for outdoor seating. They are going to be seating a lot of people in the summer, this is a big step up in size and scale from the other rooms. Impressive and nice ambiance!

Getting a reservation was easy (for now); we simply called 15 minutes before showing up. The staff gets BIG points from us because they brought us upstairs and attempted to seat us in what I’ll refer to as death alley. It was a series of tables to the right that were literally on top of each other. I don’t even think I could have squeezed between the tables they tried to put us at. Thankfully my wife instantly said that the table wouldn’t work for us. The host didn’t even blink an eye and he instantly brought us downstairs to a much more favorable spot, near the fireplace. We still had a table next to us but the space and privacy was decent and WAY better than the original spot. A table should be removed from death alley, maybe even two, to provide more privacy. This space is huge, you can work that out. We also need to recognize and thank our server Shirley who was fantastic!

On to the food, I wasn’t that impressed. It is my personal belief the best burger in Portland secretly and quietly remains at The Grill Room (yes, I know, this isn’t The Grill Room) so I was pretty excited to see the burger menu here at Boone’s. I’m not a seafood guy but my mouth watered when I came across the NOB Burger which included fried oysters, a Tabasco mayonnaise, and bacon, served on a griddled onion roll. I opted to get the oysters on the side and did not eat them although my wife loved them. I still don’t know how I feel about this burger. I ate it. I feel perhaps the Tabasco mayo combined with quite the layer of pickles masked and changed the taste of the burger. I don’t know. Next time I go I plan to try the plainer burger option to make sure I’m giving this a fair shot. For now this burger isn’t on my radar as any good, I’d prefer 5 guys. The fries were thin and plentiful, very good. I also ordered the chop salad which was not bad at all. Wife had fish cakes over a spinach salad for her main course and fish chowder. She enjoyed everything and has no complaints. The bread is mini biscuits and raisin bread squares, delicious.


I’m a burger guy so that’s why I left down almost 100 bucks and a little disappointed. The menu does have plenty other items that I would like to try including an interesting Asian-ish section including fried rice and more. There are some pizza’s that look pretty good too. We love all the rooms in town and are willing to give this one another shot sometime soon but I’m already prepping the design on a tattoo that says GRILL ROOM FOR LIFE!

  • Visited January 2014
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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Portland, Maine
1 review
“Two thumbs up”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 26, 2014

We had a great, great dinner there. The place was beautifully done, our meal and drinks were fantastic, and the service was excellent.

I think that the many, early negative reviews were due to problems that have since been remedied. We'll absolutely eat there again, and would enthusiastically recommend Boone's to others.

  • Visited January 2014
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Portland, Maine
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Looks can be decieving!”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed January 25, 2014

So let me just start out by saying I have read the other reviews and at first I said to myself, "no way are all these bad reviews true." Then I read some positive ones too and said "well see, there are some positives about this place." Both are right, and that means yes, even the negatives.

So, we decided to visit this new location 2 times before I made judgment. The first visit we went to the ouster room upstairs and sat at the bar. I had a steak and my wife had a wood fire pizza. It was overall decent. The food was not overpriced and the overall building is an improvement over the rat infested place it was before. I would have given it a 4 star based on this experience. But...

We decided to make reservations and to try the downstairs restaurant. We arrived and were quickly seated. Parking is next to impossible so park in a garage or on a street elsewhere as the lot wont work out. We got a nice 2 person table at the end by the kitchen. Seemed good until I saw the young bus boys running by us every 30 seconds. The noise level is LOUD and like many of the other rooms, its loud, very very tight space. I don't understand why the waiters and staff were running everywhere. I wanted to stand up and yell "SLOW DOWN AND TAKE A BREATH" to the staff. It makes the environment very stressful. I also almost had my head taken off several times by the staff running by us.

So, that was the environment the second visit... we ordered some items hoping that was the only issue.... wrong. My wife got a sandwich, I got the hanger steak and we started with some clams. The wait time for the food wasn't bad. Their fried seafood is marked as gluten free... When our food came, downhill it went. I ordered my steak medium... it was super well done. The steaks exterior tasted like it fell into a pit of charcoal. it was not good at all. Awful actually. I told the waitress and she didn't really seem to know what to do about it. So I ate it... and sipped my water until it ran out... and stayed out the rest of the meal... My wife's sandwich was also not great. The lettuce was about 3x the height of the rest of the interior of the sandwich. Essentially a lettuce sandwich. When the waitress finally came back and asked how it was I again reminded her of how awful it was and how black it was. She said she would let the kitchen know... thanks. For $50 we got a dry lettuce sandwich, some decent clams and a steak that tasted like charcoal bits. Lovely... now I get what people say about the prices...

I think this place needs to slow down a bit. They would be better to flow less people in and out and focus on the quality vs. quantity.

  • Visited January 2014
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
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Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Excellent food, sat downstairs”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 25, 2014 via mobile

Ordered spicy caramelized shrimp, delicious with a kick. Lobster poutine very unique and tasty. Lamejun flatbread, great blend of favors. Quality ingredients, fresh tasting, chef did a perfect job. Martha, waitstaff, was friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. Food was timely and hot. Priced reasonably. Crowded, we made reservations and were seated promptly.

Visited January 2014
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