// Location59 Washington Ave.
Portland, ME 04101
// Hours4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday
// Price Range$$$
// Cuisine Type American, Seafood,
// AT A GLANCE
If you haven’t heard of Drifters Wife, you haven’t been paying attention to Portland’s food scene. Opened in 2016 as an extension of Peter and Orenda Hale’s natural wine shop, Maine & Loire, the restaurant and its chef, Ben Jackson, earned plenty of well-deserved praise from local critics as well as those “from away.” But the restaurant was tiny: around 25 seats, and finding a table during tourist season was nearly impossible. This February, Drifters Wife and Maine & Loire moved next-door, into a space that has given it a full liquor license and nearly doubled its seating capacity. Remarkably, the restaurant has lost none of its previous charm. Chef Jackson’s dynamic, ultra-seasonal menu has also gotten a boost from the new kitchen and equipment at his disposal. His signature malabi pudding remains on the menu, but nearly everything else he prepares depends on what producers have available. In the spring, that means hake with lentils and agretti; salt-massaged leaves of napa cabbage dressed in a funky honey vinaigrette; soft shell crabs with a fried egg, pickled ramp bulbs and sautéed ramp leaves; and a buttery, butterflied chicken cooked under a brick and served with roasted parsnips and a lemon wedge. Drifters Wife remains every bit as good as you’ve heard it is…possibly even better.