PORTLAND, Maine — Lobsters taste best in the fall. The limp and watery summer soft shells are hard now and filled with sweet, tender meat. Locals here expect to see hard-shell lobsters on menus. They might be steamed whole, tossed with mayonnaise for classic lobster rolls, or heated with butter and cream in a luxurious stew.
But not at Hugo’s, a restaurant in the Old Port, where fall lobsters are combined with foraged lobster mushrooms, poached with local ginger from Freedom Farm in Waldo County, then served in a clear broth made from grilled lobster bodies and the seaweed kombu, harvested up the coast around the Schoodic Peninsula. “It’s light and floral in contrast to what you might expect from lobster,” says Mike Wiley, Hugo’s chef and co-owner. Every element in the dish is from the waters, woods, and fields nearby. “I guess it’s an example of the time and place thing that every chef in the world is striving for,” says Wiley.