Recent Return from Mid-Coast Maine
Before I tell you what I ate, please know that I am sickly addicted to Maine. I just love everything about it. I look forward to going all year long, saving articles, reading books and planning food. Sometimes it works out the way I plan, and sometimes it doesn't, but I always want more.
We always stop at Sea Basket for a bowl of rich Lobster Chowder on the way in. If you like lobster and cream, look no further. Big huge pieces of lobster in a succulent cream broth.
BTW, I also like Red's lobster rolls, but not enough to stand in the lines with a three-year old, who might turn 4 before I get my first lobster roll of the year.
Also ate a fine lunch of lobster roll and really yummy potato salad at Le Garage.
Primo - we make an annual pilgramage here for our birthdays. Primo is an old house surrounded by edible gardens and even cute little pigs that I am sure make fine pork products later. The place is unlike any other I have ever been, and the food is superb. Their fish dishes are spectacular, but everything I have ever had here has been incredible. This year I tried a mint/basil martini that knocked my socks off. Even my picky, white-bread husband loves Primo.
Cappy's - this is the standard place to go for clam chowder. It is delicious. This year I tried a lobster dinner here (very good, although sides of potato and corn were waaaay overcooked) and ceasar salad (not great, but not horrible). This is a very kid-friendly place with extremely pleasant staff. They can accommodate a single up through larger groups. It is an excellent place to meet your party for lunch or a snack,as it is right in the middle of Camden. The bar is crusty and I like it.
Bayview - this has a great view of the harbor and there is no place better for people-watching. We used to eat here at least three times a week. This year, I was absolutely crushed that the place now sucks. The wait was supposed to be 20 minutes - we waited almost 2 hours. The server was so witless that one person in our group never did get a drink, ordered when we were seated. The food was well below average. I was served my lobster bib with the bill, looong after finishing the lobster. We were given no napkins. When we gently pointed out the problems, the server whined, but we are busy! Don't bother going here.
Mariner's - this was the first year I went to Mariner's, and only because my father decided he'd like to try the blueberry pancakes for breakfast. I don't really like pancakes or blueberries. But sitting on the back deck with the most awesome view of the dam and the harbor, I discovered that I now like blueberry pancakes. They were perfectly cooked in butter. The only problem was that the syrup they served was from (gasp!) Vermont, not Maine. Service is excellent and all the other food we ordered here on four mornings was grrreat.
The Waterfront - I have never really liked the Waterfront - it smells like a frat house the day after a party, for one thing. But the locals I meet in Camden always tell me they like it, so I went back this year. I had a halibut in mustard sauce that was a bland as airline food used to be. Gazpacho was ok. Service was fairly responsive. It was like eating at your parents' country club in the 50's.
Camden Deli - neat bar with good view, terrible food.
Natalie's - This place is not to be missed. The greeting from the maitre d' was charming and gracious. The bartendress made a wicked drink. The cocktail menu was unusually creative and refreshing. The waiter was extremely competent and interesting. Food was out of this world, one of the best meals I have ever had. Servings were generous. The atmosphere is like eating in a very nice art gallery. Prices were commensurate with all the above. I loved this place and can't wait to go back. It is NOT kid friendly, but I understand you can eat outside on the porch with a bar menu, which I wish I would have had time to do. Top of the list for next year!
I wish I had eaten at Francine's - also on the list for next year.
We also like Market Basket, just before Camden in Rockport, for gourmet sandwiches and interesting salads. Also, Megunticook Market is a fine little grocery store. There are so many wonderful places to stop and picnic in Camden, like the ampitheatre and the beach. New but untried by me this year are a wine bar with a smoothie cart out front.
Edge: Phenomenal. You park your car and they take you to dinner on a golf cart, or you can hoof it down the path, which is splendid. The decor is unusual and very pulled-together. The view is unbelievable. We had a marvelous dinner. I had the tomato salad and the lobster cooked in salt. My husband wondered why the poor thing didn't just wander off the salt bed, out of the wood oven. I will have to ask next year. It was, hands down, the BEST lobster I have ever eaten. I think it came from Monhegan - so sweet and the consistency was perfect. Unfortunately, there was no bib served, and it was a little messy. Note to self - bring bib. Crab cakes were average but the green salad was great. I hear their short ribs are good. Also, the server told me that they have pizza night on Sunday, with all kinds of pizza and delish wine, for a fixed, low price. I'd do it if I could get that salt lobster again. After dinner we went down to the bar and got a drink and sat down by the ocean. As with every Maine meal, I wished I had had my bug spray. They are killer here. However, outside was even better than in. Man, this is a great place.
Lobster Pound: I really like the lobster pound. Yes, food is fairly average - IF YOU LIVE IN MAINE!!! I had an absolutely superb lobster roll there this year. It was served without mayo or butter, allowing me to control the amount I put on (yeah, like THAT's going to help my waistline!). Who cares about service here? You order at a counter and then pick it up when they call your number. The very best thing about the Pound is the scenery outside. You can see the ferry, the beach, the ocean, the gulls. They have very nice tables and grass. In contrast, I don't care for the Lobster Pound Restaurant, a bit further north, across the beach. It is like a cafeteria. Totally uninspired.
Whale's Tooth Pub: I had high hopes for this place, as the server seemed really cantakerous and salty, y'know, full of character. He was the only good thing there. There were 7 of us and everyone's food was horrible. Steak, pasta, crab cakes, salad, wine, dessert. . .And overpriced! Even Natalie's was less than this place. What a rip off!
Sadly, the only place I wanted to go in Belfast is not open for lunch and it was too far for night driving. Next year I can't wait to make time for Three Tides. It looks soooo cool and I love reading about the adventures of mainefoodieblog, who goes there.
We also had a great sandwich and blueberry pie at the little cafe next to the dock on Monhegan.
And a very nice lobster roll at Anderson's in Boothbar Harbor.
Can't wait for next year!
Thanks for such a nice and informative post. I was in BarHarbor for one night on the way back from Nova Scotia. Had dinner at George's, which was excellent. Upscaleish atmosphere and food that was well prepared and somewhat inventive. But again after reading your post, I'm ready to jump in the car and head north :)
Thanks for the post. I DO live in Maine (inland) and I love the Camden/Rockland area. Ever since the Sail Loft in Rockport closed we have been looking for a good place to have dinner down there. Will have to try Natalie's and the Edge.
Incidentally, if you're ever in the Damarascotta region (near Pemaquid Lighthouse, the one on the Maine state quarter) I would highly recommend Shaw's Wharf in New Harbor. Classic New England lobster place. Much better than the Lobster Pound in Lincolnville.
The best kitchen on Monhegan is at the Monhegan House, in the middle of the village opposite the church. They used to serve three meals a day but I don't think they do lunch any more. But you don't go to Monhegan for the food...