After an interminable Maine winter, my husband and I need a relaxing trip within a few hours drive. When we hear that Camden Harbour Inn is having a pop-up preview of their new Southeast Asian restaurant, Tempo Dulu, we jump at the chance.
Innkeepers Oscar Verest and Raymond Brunyanszky have at last expanded to Portland with their purchase of The Danforth. The handsome couple met in Indonesia and have named the inn’s restaurant Tempo Dulu, which loosely translates to “olden days,” a flavorful homage to their early romance. Best of all, they have placed multi-talented chef Lawrence Klang is at the helm — brilliant.
We arrive as guests are settling in for cocktails. Barman Mac McGaw is the devilish mastermind behind the popular Mainehattan cocktail, flavored with both Maine maple syrup and lavender essence from Glendarragh Farms — local sourcing at its best. I know sommelier Micah Wells is doing the wine pairings, so I hold back. A little.
Amid twinkling votive candles and red roses, we’re served a Weskeag oyster with mignonette — a first succulent bite of pure ocean. Smoked trout with papaya follows for a robust local taste with an exotic finish. A perfectly seared Maine diver scallop with beet, jalapeno, pineapple, fermented soybean, and seaweed is a stand-out, and the beautiful Balinese duck with a lemongrass Sambal and chewy yellow rice is rich and satisfyingly sticky. All courses feature delicate, distinctive and unexpected flavors of Southeast Asia paired with the robust essence of Maine.
I look forward to having Chef Klang in my neck of the woods, and to more of this exquisite, surprisingly light and unfussy fare. Proximity rules.
Posh and Private
Over the years, Oscar and Raymond have transformed the Camden Harbour Inn into a cosmopolitan boutique hotel, recently named one of the World’s Best Hotels in Travel & Leisure, along with AAA Four Diamonds and coveted Relais & Chateau status. Each distinctive room has stunning views of blue ocean, craggy islands and evergreens from wraparound porches and large windows.
This tranquil oasis of comfort and perfection rocks the concept of personal service. During our first visit, my white dinner napkin was replaced with black to match my dress. Astonishing. To quote myself, “The service at both inn and restaurant goes beyond impeccable to almost clairvoyant.”
I am confident that they will achieve the same level of elegance and supreme comfort here in Portland at The Danforth.
We first met executive chef Lawrence Klang at Camden Harbour Inn in 2008. His sumptuous dinner was the highlight of our stay. Featuring both Maine ingredients and local wines, Klang’s distinctive lobster preparations earned him the 2008 Maine Lobster Chef People’s Choice award, as well as accolades from the James Beard Foundation. Since leaving the inn in 2010, he has continued to hone his astonishing culinary skills at hotel restaurants in Thailand and Indonesia.
Most Important Meal of the Day
Don’t skip breakfast. Each morning, guests are offered a generous, European-style breakfast. The sideboard is laden with cheeses, yogurt, croissants and fruit. Lobster Benedict is as velvety and unctuous as you’d imagine. I love the Open Faced Breakfast Sandwich, a gooey preparation of house-made bread topped with spinach, mushrooms, fried egg and magic sauce. Go ahead, lick the plate.
Oscar and Raymond possess a winning combination: a superb sense of design, color and style, and a reverence for romance. Their welcome is as warm and genuine as their smiles. The Camden showplace is my ultimate go-to for deeply restorative R&R — highly recommended. Spring specials make it more accessible to year-round Mainers.
I know their transformation of The Danforth will create a sophisticated and stylish oasis here in Portland … perhaps a bit more “uptown.” And Tempo Dulu will bring us Southeast Asian fine dining, a long-awaited and welcome addition to our vibrant restaurant scene. •