Yesterday, my daughter Shannon, our friend Kate Johnson, and I went to The Merry Table in Portland to celebrate my birthday, which was in September. Originally, we had planned to go the Friday after my birthday, but I had been overly optimistic about how fast I would recover from breast cancer surgery. Four days wasn’t enough. Hence the delay.
Over the past couple of years, celebrating our birthdays in Portland has become a tradition, and somehow we have had the best luck with the weather. The days are always clear, warm, and sunny, and yesterday was no exception. It was the kind of October day that makes Maine famous in the fall, the kind with a crisp, intoxicating blue sky, the kind that makes you want to break into song.
A cruise ship was docked in the harbor—lucky cruisers to have such a fine day—and it was as busy in the Old Port as it is in midsummer. The streets were so crowded with people that it felt more like Bar Harbor than Portland, and I hope the merchants, for the most part local, did well.
The Merry Table, on Warf Street, not far from the harbor, is known for its crêpes. The restaurant is small, cozy but rather dark, except for a table by the window, which is where we sat—Kate and I on a bench with our backs to the sun and Shannon on a chair across from us. It felt, just a little, like a café in Paris.
Because crêpes are the specialty at The Merry Table, crêpes are what we ordered. Ever since my cancer diagnosis, my stomach has been touchy, and all I’ve wanted is fairly bland food. Now that I know the outlook is good, my stomach is starting to settle down. Nevertheless,
I decided to play it safe, and I ordered a plan ham and cheese crêpe. A good decision. Kate and Shannon were more adventurous, ordering ones with ham, brie, garlic, and roasted red peppers. Unfortunately, especially for Kate, the garlic was so overwhelming that she really couldn’t enjoy the crêpe. As Kate revels in spicy food, I can just imagine what the crêpe must have been like. Shannon, another lover of spicy food, also thought the garlic was too much.
My ham and cheese crêpe, a golden packet untraditionally folded in a square, was tasty if not exciting, exactly what I wanted. We all ordered dessert crêpes, and Kate felt her crêpe Suzette redeemed the bitter garlic bite of her previous crêpe. I had one filled with a rich, dark chocolate. Unfortunately, the whipped cream came from a can. I don’t remember what Shannon had, but I do remember that she ate it all.
So, The Merry Table was a mixed bag, but never mind. We like to try a different restaurant every time we get together for birthdays, and this sort of thing is bound to happen, even in a foodie town such as Portland. In the end, the company is always great, and that is the most important thing. In fact, we like getting together so much that we have decided we need to throw in another trip to Portland before Shannon’s birthday in April. Perhaps right after the holidays.