New Friendly Restaurant in Perry, Maine
On my several week road trip along US Route 1 in Maine and up Canada Route 1 in New Brunswick we stopped off in Calais to check out the International Festival. The Festival itself was a bust, and the "good" restaurants in town all tourist traps, but several locals, when pressed for where they went to eat good Maine eats, mentioned the New Friendly Restaurant in Perry, Maine about 20 minutes south of Calais on Route 1. Perry bills itself as halfway between the Equator and the North Pole, since the town is situated exactly on the 45th parallel.
We stopped by the place for lunch and it was mostly a glorified diner. The service wasn't cordial or great but the food was. Out of all my years trying fried whole belly clams at a myriad of places they were the absolute best ever. Just a light coat of batter and big, fresh, clean and succulent fried clams that burst in your mouth with juice and sweet briny flavor. Finest Kind For Sure. I also had the fish chowder which was a nice if light rendition, not thick or gloppy and full of fish and potatoes. My traveling partners had burgers and raved about them for days afterwards. Nice sized without being overwhelming and juicy and tasty with a meaty, smoky flavor. The Cole Slaw was that tangy, creamy, slightly sweet, Maine style slaw and again the best I've ever had.
If you are ever up this far in Down-East Maine and are looking for some of the best old style New England chow this is the place.
I concur about the clams. One of the only places I can eat a huge plate of fried seafood and not feel it later. Family loves it too.
Can't wait to go there this summer!
On a side note, I'm not from the area but have been to several International Festivals. Go if you want to experience a side of coastal Maine that's 180 degrees from what you see in Camden or Old Orchard. If Bar Harbor is Prague, Calais is Bratislava. If you dig places like Bratislava, you will probably have a good time.
You know, it's probably a continuum that starts in Kittery and heads up the coast. As you say, Camden and Old Orchard are not much alike.
I love the serenity of Downeast, and it doesn't get much more serene than Washington County. At the same time, there's enough going on to make it culturally interesting.
Pulling the discussion back onto the subject of food ... It's true that you can't really get a high-end meal in Calais, but most of the local eateries (like the New Friendly) do a good job at cheap n' cheerful.
If you have access to a kitchen, the game changes entirely. Fresh eggs are 2 bucks a dozen on the side of the road, local veggies are all over the place, as is meat if you know where to look (Calais Farmer's Market). Plus you can hit the Raye's Mustard factory in Eastport to buy the world's best mustard in bulk.
Just a great place to go and slow the pace of life down for a week or two, IMO.
The New Friendly Restaurant
851 Shore Rd, Perry, ME 04667