Cork Restaurant (Camden, Maine)
I am not sure why I have heard so much about Primo and even Marquis at the Belmont, and heard so little about Cork Restaurant. For reason, I am compelled to brag about the most perfect evening I recently enjoyed at Cork Restaurant.
While vactioning in Mid-Coast Maine, my husband and I became frustrated with the lack of quality choices. Most restaurants, in the area, are overpriced tourist traps. For this reason, we felt it would be best to stick to restaurants like Primo, which we have heard a great deal about. However, after dining at Primo we were even more discouraged. Being from the New York area, we are used to food, service, and atmosphere being far superior. My husband and I began to wonder if everyone leaves there taste buds at the New Hampshire border! (Just for the record, foccacia bread should not be burnt AT ALL . . . even the Macaroni Grill can get that right.) That was until we discovered Cork Restaurant, while strolling around Camden. It is situated in a beautifully renovated Victorian, in the heart of town, and we just couldn't resist. We walked up to the restaurant at 7:30 p.m. to see if we could get a table. But, unfortunately (as I would expect from any good restaurant at prime dinner hour) they just could not fit 2 more. Instead we dined at Marquis (which had plenty of room - enough said), and made reservations at Cork for the following evening.
When we arrived the next night, the restaurant was a buzz with content diners, and we were immediately greeted by Bunny, one of the owners. She seated us promptly on the second floor, in a table that overlooks the town and mountains and allowed us to dine in air conditioned comfort and still watch the breathtaking sunset. Our server, Jen, arrived shortly after to provide us with water and provide assistance with our wine and food selections. Without delay, we ordered a bottle of Clicquot and a selection of oysters. Cork specializes in providing a selection of local oysters that are served on the half shell and are shucked to order. We choose 6 Pemaquid, 6 Glidden Point, and 4 Belons: All were very fresh and served properly on a bed of salt.
Once we finished our oysters, we decided to order. Althought the Table d'Hote and Menu Degustation were tempting, we decided to branch out on our own: I began with the lobster cake which was absolutely delicous. My husband ordered the lobster & asparagus ravioli (which I tasted and) was marvelous. Next, I opted for the complementary salad (whole baby greens, tossed with garlic & herb vinaigrette, with currant tomatoes and toasted seeds - found out later they were some kind of Mexican pumpkin seed) while my husband order the lobster bisque. The bisque was the best we had ever experienced and it went exceptional well with the country-style rolls, and the salad was so good I tryed to get the recipe for the dressing . . . to no avail (it is apparently a closely guarded house secret!) Next, came sorbet (which we ordered) I choose the mango and my husband choose the cherry-grapefuit. Both were excellent pallate cleansers. Before our entrees we took Bunny's suggestion and orderd a silky smooth chateauneuf du pape, from the award winning wine list. Although I toyed with the idea of ordering the ostrich, I decided to go with the pistachio crusted rack of lamb with stilton, while my husband order the house specailty chateau briand with bearnaise sauce. Both were the best we had ever had! Not to mention the whipped potatoes . . . OH MY GOD!!!! After all this, we all most skipped dessert. But, once Jen persuaded us we couldn't resist, and I am so glad. The creme brulee was to die for, as was my husband's chocolate truffle cake.
After dinner Chef Aimee, approached the table to make sure everything was ok. She chatted with us for awhile, told us how whe had recently begun to fly in ingredients from across the country, and that she has no formal training: WHAT A SHOCK! We told her we'd be back and would tell others. So that is what I am doing now. When in Camden: DINE AT CORK RESTAURANT.
I know. It's silly to reply to a comment posted ten years ago, but, unfortunately, what was true then, is true now. (Cork, incidentally, is long-gone).
I have never lived anywhere where the price of meals, especially in relation to ambience, service, etc., has amounted to extortion. There are a couple of places where this is not true, but the prices here are mind-blowing. I think it is purposely done to keep 'lesser' folk out of the dining establishments. There is plenty of $$$$$$ around - why bother with local year-rounders who aren't billionaires. I do not exaggerate here.
I have an invitation to be taken to dinner for my birthday. It's on Monday. Even though it is Columbus Day weekend, with many tourists, and many local people wanting to dine out. You would think, would you not, that restaurants that are normally closed on Mondays would stay open -- no. Next, we'll all be hearing how business is hurting.
Thanks for bringing attention to the old post....interesting to see a 10 year old viewpoint. For me, "what's true then is true now" couldn't be further from the truth. The midcoast has seen a phenomenal renaissance on the "food" front, especially Rockland. There are so many quality establishments that run the gamut on price.
And Primo lives on as the best restaurant in (maybe) all of New England, while mediocrity falls by the wayside.
For what it's worth, every place I've been to recently has been saying they've had a great season, leaps and bounds above last year (acknowledging that last year was dismal - weather didn't help). Everybody seems happy.