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Aug 14, 2005 05:59 AM

Brunswick, Maine

  • d

I will be staying in Cundy's Harbor for a week. Any must-eats in the Brunswick/Harpswell vicinity?

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  1. I just finished spending six weeks in Brunswick (for my third summer). I have eaten many delicious lunches at the Bookland Bookstore and Café, in the Cooks Corner area of Brunswick. It’s on Route 24 north from the Harpswells. Turn left into the Cooks Corner shopping mall (Staples office supply) just before the intersection with Bath Road. Small changing menu, great desserts, lots of reading material (!). I particularly like the smoked turkey and brie sandwich on a fresh-baked croissant. (207) 725-7033

    A couple of islands west of Cundy’s Harbor, in Harpswell Center, is Allen's Seafood at the end of Lookout Point Rd. (207) 833-2828. They are a licensed shellfish retailer with tubs of lobsters in a shed. You choose your lobster (different weights and categories) and they cook it for you at no charge at a stand on the property. You can also get steamers or littleneck clams if they haven’t run out of the day’s supply. Everything is absolutely fresh. You eat your food outside at one of three picnic tables with umbrellas, with a view of the cove and the lobstermen bringing in their catch.

    For a local sit-down experience, I always bring guests to the Dolphin Chowderhouse & Marina, 515 Basin Point near South Harpswell (207) 833-6000 They have a VERY simple menu, as most people go for the fish chowder with a house-baked blueberry muffin. They also make a good lobster stew (and also sell lobster and some fried seafood), but I dream about the fish chowder all the rest of the year. From the intersection of Route 123 and Mountain Road, go south on Route 123 for 5.5 miles. Turn right on Ash Point Rd., then make the second right to Basin Point Road and go two miles to the end. Nice view of the cove and boats also.

    In the middle of the Harpswells, on Mountain Road near Route 123, is a new store called the Black Dog wine shop that has an excellent wine selection with some cheese and chocolates. I also like the wine selection (and some other items) at the Provisions store, in downtown Brunswick.

    In Brunswick, you’ll quickly find out about Henry & Marty’s for upscale dining, Wild Oats Bakery and Café for lunch (NOT the supermarket chain), Little Dog coffee house for baked goods, and others.

    4 Replies
      1. re: Ralph

        Hi David,
        Thanks for the good press on our wine shop in Harpswell...just a slight correction, we are The Black Sheep Wine Shop not the black dog,( but I used to have a really great black dog... )
        I agree with the great places you mentioned, Henry and Marty's,Allen's Seafood,Bookland Cafe, The Dolphin.
        You have to stop on the way down RT. 123 in Harpswell at The Vegetable Corner, just at the yellow blinking light before you get to the Mountain Rd. turnoff for our Black Sheep Wine Store.They are the essential grocer/ bakery/ butcher/ soup and sandwich to go place- I heve never had anything less than excellent from them, and they are really nice too!
        The next time you're in the Brunswick area check out El Camino, a phenomenal upscale mexicana restaurant on Cushing Street- fun and loads of personality; 725 8228.
        Scarlett Begonia's has a loyal following, the food is great, inside is charming and they allow you to bring your own wine.They are at the top of Maine Street heading towards Bowdoin College if you haven't been there before.
        The Great Impasta is also one of our favorite places- they are warm and inviting, classic Italian dishes with flair, and they never rush you.
        Richard's German Restaurant has a wonderful menu and lots of cool beer!
        Have you been to The Back Street Bistro? They are a wonderful new addition just back behind Gulf of Maine Bookstore. Innovative food and a great wine bar upstairs that is often open a little later than other restaurants.
        In Topsham there is a fantastic ice cream and sandwich combo cafe tucked behind McDonalds at the Topsham Fair Mall.The Ice Cream Shoppe, 373-1770- they conveniently stay open later than most and are always friendly with the best ice cream and sandwiches.
        We are so lucky to have the Bohemian Coffee Roasters , now located just before Hannafords Supermarket off Maine Street; I don't know how they do it but the quality of their coffee has me hooked!
        Too bad Jack Baker's Last Stand in Bailey Island is closing...lots of fond memories though.
        A new place just opened next door though, I haven't been yet, but they are a market with a little cafe.


        1. re: jen

          Jack Baker's Last stand is open for breakfast again, although not for dinners.We've been missing them and hope the dinners will come back, as they were very good food , very reasonable prices and a real friendly atmosphere.
          The place next to it with a cafe, Bailey Island Market is nothing to rave about .

          1. re: jen

            UPDATE : Jack Bakers is open again!! As of October , 2006 , they are open year round ( closed Mon. and Tues. in the winter). They are right at the southern end of the Cribstone Bridge on Baileys Island in Harpswell. Yeah!!

        2. Henry and Marty is the best in Brunswick. Other choices are Scarlet Begonias for good, garlicky dishes and the ability to bring your own wine (in addition to Provisions, Tess's Market on Pleasant Street has a great selection of wines in an unprepossessing setting), Starfish Grill, and Backstreet Bistro (new and still getting its legs)next to the Firestation off Maine Street. THE BEST eats in the area are in Bath at a new place called Solo Bistro Bistro. Fresh, delicious food, beautifully presented. Definitely worth the 4 or 5 mile drive from Cook's Corner.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Will Neilson

            you know i agree with all of your comments except the last. solo bistro bistro had strong legs out of the gate, since opening portions have gotten smaller, prices higher, and service slower...they are going to have a hard time surviving.

            1. re: bob

              I have to comment on this post. I was there a few weeks ago and I found everything to be fabulous! I reccomend it highly. They have a real cool, Euro/ Retro look, and the food was great , service great, the bar downstairs has jazz nights- what's not to like!

            2. re: Will Neilson

              Henry and Marty's SUCKS!!!
              It used to be good, but now it's outrageous.
              Terrible service.
              Exorbitant prices for very , very ordinary food.

              1. re: Will Neilson

                I agree that Henry and Marty's is good. It is, however rather pricey. (It's worth it, but if you are on a budget, there are some other great restaurants to go to as well!). I also agree that the Backstreet Bistro is yummy, and if you like Mexican food, try El Camino's, also in Brunswick. They have the best Mexican and they make the best homemade chips!
                Also try Pedro O' Hara's. It's in Brunswick, on Maine street, in the same "complex" as
                the German restaurant Richards. Pedro's is downstairs from Richards. (Richards was
                not that great, but not that bad, either!). Pedro's has a little bit of everything, they serve
                everything from Irish to Mexican, to typical burgers and such. I have to add that while this next place I'm about to mention is a chain, I like them very much. Try Ruby Tuesdays in Topsham. (Town over from Brunswick) My parents, (who I love, but can be picky!) really liked their food, they have good prices (if you don't order drinks), and we all (my fiance expecially) really love their croutons. That is all! Enjoy your stay.

                1. re: pianochikke

                  We "dined" at Backstreet Bistro last night and were thoroughly disappointed.
                  An overpriced, very noisy place with indifferent service -- we had to ASK that our water glasses be refilled -- and very, very mediocre food. Much attention is paid to producing a fancy-looking plate -- but the food is barely worth eating.
                  I'll take Scarlet Begonias any day compared to this pretentious place!

                  1. re: thomas green

                    funny thing...we had resv at Backstreet Bistro last night and I cancelled them because the outside looks real dumpy. So we went to Henry & Martys. What a disappointment. Service was good, no ice water, but the food was Sysco out of a can... Terrible, and the place was packed and people waiting... What's wrong with these chefs? Are there any decent places in Brunswick Maine to eat?

                2. re: Will Neilson

                  A new blog addition in case someone out there would be interested in any updates: Back Street Bistro has some fine food and they have plenty of space and reasonable prices, a deck in the summer, Henry and Marty is questionable, the last time we went our food was not even warm, not presented well AND our server was unable to get anything right, scarlet begonias is good for what it is, a very small neighborhood pizza and Italian place, slighly better food than the norm as it seems they make everything fresh, they do allow you to bring your own wine as they have no liquor license, but I don't like Provisions because their prices are very high and the other place, Tess's Market is so cramped that you can't feel comfortable , besides it's basically a pizza place and the ovens are always going, can't be too good for the wine, try the supermarket for average ten dollar wines and if you have a taste for wine check out the Black Sheep in Harpswell, we've discovered they have great wine, and they know wine and have good advice. As far as Solo Bistro, yes they are good, we've found the food and atmosphere is upscale , they have jazz downstairs most weekends. Will and Pia Neilson are the owners I believe.... A nice addition in Bath is Beal Street Barbeque, and in Brunswick El Camino Mexican Cantina , Renaissance European Bistro and Sweet Tea Leaves , all excellent, the last two serving breakfast ( not sure if breakfast is just on the weekends now). Most other places in the area are just average .

                3. Forgot to mention El Camino (on Cumberland St)in Brunswick. Great cal/mex food in a very funky and cool atmosphere. Homemade chorizo and some great vegetarian specials. I'd actually rate this on a par with Henry & Marty for quality of food, but with less variety. Relatively inexpensive, and just starting to do some interesting things with wine too.

                  1. Henry & Marty is still very good, but we think it has slipped from it's peak. El Camino is good, but Hacienda Pancho Villa is the best Mexican in the area. Solo Bistro served the best lamb shank I've ever had, but for some reason we don't go back. Its pricey and for some reason doesn't seem engaging. Tess' market is the best wine store and pizza shop in the mid-coat.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Boodles

                      It's funny - Hacienda Pancho Villa - we never got past looking at the dining room, we turned around and walked out!! So I guess I'm missing a better dining experience than El Camino ? What's so good about it?
                      Have you been to The Black Sheep Wine Shop ? They have wine tastings - which Tess' doesn't for obvious reasons- it's so crowded in there! . I've been to both and with Tess' I also wonder about spending $ on a wine that's been subjected to the heat of pizza ovens ? Pizza is good, though , but if you're serious about wine I like Black Sheep .The place is pretty new , but they know about wine. They have some good reccomendations and prices and I love the wines I've bought.
                      I hope they make it because it is one of those places that always has an interesting selection.

                      1. re: st.eve

                        El Camino is very good, and they make a great Margarita. Their quality is first rate, and we believe they try to use local produce. Hacienda Pancho Villa is very authentic in a California kind of way, and they have a much more extensive menu. We always get a side of pico de gallo which is a fabulous addition to almost anything. We have not been to Black Sheep yet. Tess' is along my commute from work so it's easy to visit. I have worried about the heat in there on occasion, but we haven't had a bad bottle from them. I think they have a pretty good turn over.

                    2. Scarlet Begonia's is mighty tasty. Small dining area, big portions and flavors. I had a caper/olive/anchovy pasta dish called the Scarlet Harlot, it was delicious and I'm still thinking about it a year later. The pizza there is great, too. Google them for their website.

                      Other folks on this board have written about Fat Boy's, a diner with car-hop service, and the food is very cheap and pretty good. But when do they close for the season? I'm not sure.