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Brunswick, Maine

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david Aug 14, 2005 05:59 AM

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

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  1. r
    Ralph RE: david Aug 14, 2005 09:46 PM

    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. http://www.booklandcafe.com/cafe/ (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
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      david RE: Ralph Aug 15, 2005 07:38 AM

      Thanks!

      1. re: Ralph
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        jen RE: Ralph Feb 28, 2006 11:24 AM

        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.

        Link: http:www.blacksheepwine.com

        1. re: jen
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          st.eve RE: jen Sep 3, 2006 05:07 PM

          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
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            st.eve RE: jen Nov 24, 2006 04:18 PM

            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. w
          Will Neilson RE: david Aug 15, 2005 11:43 AM

          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
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            bob RE: Will Neilson Sep 8, 2005 07:17 PM

            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
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              st.eve RE: bob Sep 3, 2006 05:12 PM

              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
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              thomas green RE: Will Neilson Jan 6, 2007 11:48 PM

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

              1. re: Will Neilson
                pianochikke RE: Will Neilson Feb 11, 2007 02:31 PM

                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
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                  thomas green RE: pianochikke Jun 23, 2007 10:25 AM

                  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
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                    irwin RE: thomas green Jun 24, 2007 11:24 AM

                    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
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                  genvieve RE: Will Neilson Apr 2, 2007 07:50 AM

                  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. w
                  Will again RE: david Aug 15, 2005 11:53 AM

                  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. b
                    Boodles RE: david Sep 4, 2006 02:13 AM

                    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
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                      st.eve RE: Boodles Sep 5, 2006 06:12 AM

                      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
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                        Boodles RE: st.eve Sep 6, 2006 12:38 AM

                        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. s
                      sarahsbooks RE: david Sep 5, 2006 07:57 PM

                      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.

                      1. e
                        Etnier RE: david Nov 24, 2006 08:32 PM

                        Hacienda Pancho Villa: sheesh. fuggedaboutit. El Camino, however, is definitely worth a visit.

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                          frankbooth RE: david Nov 24, 2006 09:05 PM

                          Fat Boy Drive In- my daughters favorite restaurant in the world- solid, classic drive in food and very reasonably priced. car service and a few small table inside- stay in the car! it's such a classic spot, good burgers (the special burger is called a Whooper Burger), pretty good lobster and clam rolls, solid fries, grilled cheese and all the classics, just fun fun fun. not open in winter, so probably closed by now. but a summer classic- my daughter's mantra every summer is "dad, i want to go to fatboy"... enjoy frank

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: frankbooth
                            franksnbeans RE: frankbooth Sep 27, 2007 12:00 PM

                            My wife (pregnant at the time, but still) is still raving about Fat Boy's. Also had good eats @ the Sea Dog Brewery, though it can get a bit zoo-y; the Dolphin; and notably Middle Bay Lobster in E. Harpswell, which is totally bare-bones, but honest and delicious.

                          2. m
                            MangiaMuse RE: david Jan 7, 2007 08:34 PM

                            I'm still unable to forgive Scarlet Begonias for an unfortunate incident a couple of years ago. We entered an hour before going to see a play, and told them our time constraints. It was medium busy, but they said it was no problem. Then we waited and waited and waited. Several times, I reminded them of our time constraints. 50 minutes later, I told them we had to leave. They said, "wait, your food is coming right up! We can pack it up for you!" That was it. No "we're really sorry," or anything trying to make it up to us. We left, and have never returned. 50 minutes is ridiculous to wait for food anywhere, and this was just pathetic.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: MangiaMuse
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                              Peter B Wolf RE: MangiaMuse Apr 2, 2007 04:57 PM

                              "Hacienda Pancho Villa is the best Mexican in the area." had Dinner two weeks ago, ugly and terrible !!
                              MangiaMuse: just an hour to even ask for is ludicrous before a show,
                              unless you want to sling hash

                              1. re: Peter B Wolf
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                                MangiaMuse RE: Peter B Wolf Jun 23, 2007 01:43 PM

                                In a restaurant where you order from the counter??? And they said "No problem" when I asked. If they had said what you said, that would have been different.

                              2. re: MangiaMuse
                                the_MU RE: MangiaMuse Sep 28, 2007 05:35 AM

                                To pile on Scarlet Begonia: We called and made a reservation on a Friday because Brunswick gets zoo-ey then, and we have a five-year-old. They asked us the time, and we showed up ten minutes before that. When we got there, there were no tables available (place has about six tables), and there were three good-size parties ahead of us. They told us 15 minutes. After half an hour, there was still another party ahead of us, with no other space in sight. After 45 minutes, with an antsy 5-year-old approaching his expiration date, we left.

                                Apparently, a "reservation" there just means your name gets put on the list at the time you ask for, behind anyone else who just happened to walk in before that. If we had known that, we wouldn't have bothered, but the person who took said "reservation" never mentioned this. This is piss-poor customer service. Apparently they don't need our business, or anyone else's who expects to be treated respectfully.

                              3. m
                                MangiaMuse RE: david Jun 24, 2007 09:31 AM

                                We had a delicious dinner at Renaissance Bistro in Brunswick last night. I also have been going to Frontier Cafe a lot, in Fort Andross. Frontier has mostly salads, sandwiches, and casual fare, while Renaissance has great bistro dinners. There's been a bit of a renaissance going on in the Brunswick dining scene lately, it seems! Wild Oats is always great for a sandwich or baked goodies, and I already posted about Sweet Leaves. Both Indian restaurants in Brunswick are decent, not great, but good.

                                1. e
                                  espresjso RE: david Apr 22, 2008 07:58 AM

                                  111 Maine has a small but quality menu. They have a fantastic mulled apple cider in the fall and really good paninis throughout the year. No one has mentioned Big Top Deli, which has been a Brunswick classic forever. Favorites include the goose (turkey, gouda, avocado, honey mustard, cucumber), the gobbler (cranberry sauce, turkey, stuffing, gravy), the ringmaster (garlic bread, pastrami, swiss). Its really yummy. Danny's hot dog stand on the mall in the summer is awesome, and the Bohemian (or BoHo as the locals like to call it) for a really good cappuccino. For dessert, the Gelato Fiasco has some really cool flavors that change daily (chocolate stout, honey graham, ginger cardamom, etc).

                                  New places that I haven't tried yet are Clementine and Bacari. They seem way more upscale and pricey than the normal Brunswick eatery. I haven't heard anything - good or bad - about them yet.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: espresjso
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                                    delong99 RE: espresjso Apr 22, 2008 08:55 AM

                                    We ate at M.J.'s Grille & Tavern last weekend and it was quite good. We loved the extensive list of $1 side options to the entrees. It's a neat space as well.

                                    1. re: delong99
                                      jspear RE: delong99 Apr 22, 2008 11:14 AM

                                      Back St Bistro shines for me but did you notice the date this strand started??? How about Henry and Marty's?

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