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Bar Harbor Area Dining Report- week of 8/17/06

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Hardly any current EG and CH reports for this area, so hope this is helpful. We were really surprised and pleased by the number of excellent restaurant experiences we had through our week’s stay in the area. And at our dinner restaurants, we did not have anything but excellent knowledgable and friendly service. (Wow, let’s clone these chefs and servers and bring them down to Boston!!) Most of these restnts are very ‘seasonal, local produce and seafood ’ oriented.

Recommended Dinner Restaurants:

Cleonise- Ellsworth- Mediterranean, Spanish leaning, incl tapas. Raise their own produce,pork etc. Handsome, comfy room. PLUS: Surprisingly unusual and superior desserts. MINUS: ?

XYZ- Manset- Authentic non-burritos Mexican with tremendous moles, sauces( not at all bitter as they so often are). PLUS: Chicken with Salsa Naranja- Perfect. MINUS- somewhat limited menu.

Red Sky- SW Harbor- self-trained but talented chef/manager-James. Mediterr influences mostly. apps better than entrees PLUS: Very good and some unusual desserts. MINUS: small portions make it expensive.Execution not always the best.

Burning Tree- Otter Creek- established 19 yr. place- unanimously recommended by every area chef I spoke to. Innovative ,Asian and Mediterr influences. PLUS: great self-raised produce. MINUS: ?

Havana- Bar Harbor- Cuban, Caribbean menu. Exc.diverse menu. PLUS: very unusual and delic.starches.Very handsome place with lovely romantic quiet patio.
MINUS: can’t think of one. Hmmm!

Chef-Recommended for Dinner but untried: House of M- NE Harbor; Mache- BH ; Fiddler’s Green- SWHarbor; Atlantic Brewing Co.- BH area- huge portions, cheap, on-site smoked BBQ and on-site brewed beer.

Breakfast: Two Cats- Bar Harbor. Very popular for a reason- Excellent fun diverse menu served by very low key staff on colorful flower-filled wrap-around porch. Plus: Real homemade biscuits w/ Strawberry Butter; Mediterranean Eggs with sundried tomato polenta, caponata, poached eggs; spicy homefries.
MINUS: sometimes they run out. Go before 9am or after 11 am to avoid crazy lines.

Pizza: Finelli’s- Ellsworth. I still cannot believe my tastebuds, but this is, hands-down,the best pizza I have had in New England. And I tell you, I have tried them ALL!!! Perfect thin crust, perfect amount and flavor of toppings.( The original Regina’s, in Boston’s North End, is my other fav. pizza). This place is easily worth a long drive.

ReelPizza- BH- (combo pizza/movie theater) pizza is o.k. Awkward ordering system.Plus: good,cheap art house films.

Bakery: Morning Glory-Bar Harbor. Unusually excellent cookies and breads. PLUS: onion walnut bread, berry pockets, chewy oatmeal cookies.

Lobster Pound: Thurston’s- Bernard- PLUS: Killer view of tranquil harbor; lobster, pota. salad, coleslaw.
MINUS: dreadful chowdahs- the worst I’ve ever tasted-NO flavor (unless you like Potatoes in milk and Lobster in milk); no bibs; mediocre corn; grossly unattractive under-age female staff. V. expensive, but maybe all lobster pounds are...

Lunch: Donahue’s was recommended, but we didn’t try it.
We did try Galyn’s- Bar Harbor- ( after some EG rec’s.) DO NOT go there!- very sub-par. Our only bad food exper. this trip.

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  1. Wow- very surprised about Thurston's and Galyn's! I didn't think Thurston's was expensive- $9 for a lobster? Can't find that in any restaurant! As for chowder, I don't go to a lobster pound for that; let the chefs do it at a nice restaurant, IMO. As for unattractive staff... come on. It's a lobster pound! Do you think beautiful models are going to want to work there?! I'll give you the mediocre corn, but again, I'm not expecting wow here, just good fresh lobster.

    Galyn's was surprising. You didn't go into much detail though on its being subpar, but you ranked on a poor lobster pound. We go to BH every summer and Galyn's is our favorite place to dine- we go once a year for the past 10-12 years and have yet to have a bad experience there, much less a mediocre one. Always super in our experiences.

    Havana was a recent excellent find for us, too! As for 2 Cats, we've heard so much about it yet we have never been! It will be on our "list" for next summer!

    As with any place, there are always off nights and very different tolerances, opinions of what's good/bad, and expectatations.

    1. That's really hitting below the belt, Opinionatedchef. You have every right on this board to criticize Thurston's chowder
      as being milky (the way we true Mainers like it) or bemoan the lack of a bib when you eat your lobster but to deride the looks of the female wait staff as you did is really out of bounds. Apparently she/they gave you the good service you praised in your opening comments. Why concentrate on physical appearance? You should be ashamed of yourself. I just hope the young girl(s) don't learn of your comments. They're pretty devastating.

      1. We're all through with Thurston's also.
        Lousy service,mediocre lobster rolls(small and overpriced).
        This used to be a great place;what happened to it?
        Yes the view is nice but who cares;we went there for lobster.
        Who cares what the staff looks like!
        If I wanted a boob show I'd have gone to Hooters!(LOL).
        This is the last time in three yrs.that we've been disappointed with Thurstons.
        I agree with your good opinion of Galyn's;consistently good food,good prices,ect.
        We really liked Cleonice in Ellsworth too!!!
        Catnip

        1. I am shocked that some of you don't think staff appearance (and the fact that they are UNDERAGE) is important at a dining establishment.it is part of the whole aesthetic experience. and Health-code and child-labor laws are also very important and necessary. and i did NOT think the service friendly or helpful there. our meal for 2 was not $9. the lobsters were $11 a POUND and our tab, w/ coleslaw, pota salad, and lobster, was $60. i think that is expensive for what we got. if "True Mainers" like lobster chowder that is warmed up milk with some tough lobster thrown in, no onion or flavorings, then you have my greatest sympathy. but i don't buy it; I have more respect for "True Mainers" than that.

          galyn's lunch - miniscule amount of bland sauteed scallops and veg's; mediocre skimpy reuben on puffy dark brown bread that someone thinks is rye?? cornstarch heavy bland chowder.sardonic waitress. if you've had good luck there,fine. but i highly recommend people not go there.

          1 Reply
          1. re: opinionatedchef

            I never said it was $9 for 2 dinners... we did, however, pay $9 for each boiled lobster plus $1 each for the so-so corn.

            Anyway, if you are a chef as your name states, you obviously have different expectations/opinions/tolerances than many others. To each his own; some are harder/easier to please. Galyns's hasn't been in business for 20 years for nothing- apparently quite a few people think they're doing something right.

          2. Thanks for the update.

            We really enjoyed the Burning Tree in Otter Creek as well. The attentive service, good food and bohemian atmosphere make this a special place.

            Thurston's can be a bit pricey (read: for tourists). I never had the chowder there, only a lobster, some steamers and a beer.

            I think a staff's attractiveness (or lack thereof) is more important in places where the level of service is higher. Thurston’s is more casual (hand sink near the tables, eating in a big yellow cage jutting out over a muddy inlet) sort of affair. I honestly don’t care what their staff looks like except that they have fresh lobster that wasn’t too pricey. What is the legal age for working a counter in Maine 15 or so?? If you were eating at a sit-down place where you are being “waited upon,” say a diner, then you have a good point. But, a give your order at the counter, yell-out-your-number establishment doesn’t require a “polished” staff.

            1. I think you are right on! The attractiveness of staff - I won't really go into this - BUT I agree w/ everything else!!

              1. I ate at Thurston's last week. I thought the food was excellent and a good value. I had lobster and steamed clams.

                As for the look of the staff, I must have picked a good night. Everyone at the window where you pick your lobster's seemed like young high school/college aged young ladies.