Lunch in Portland, Maine/Chow on Baileys Island
Passing through Portland on a friday on the way to Baileys Island. Looking for a chowhound lunch place in Portland and general advice on Baileys Island. We are already scheduled for a dinner at Cooks on saturday.
Re Portland: There have been endless recs. Try typing in Portland under SEARCH, you will find lots of suggestions.
For Bailey's Island - We like Esty's better than Cook's. No atmosphere (and no bar, a very limited selection of wines and beers), but the food is better by a long shot. There are three Esty's: One in South Harpswell (biggest and nicest), one on Bailey's, and one in Cundy's Harbor, tiny but picturesque.
There are a couple of nice places for lunch in Brunswick. My personal favorite is Joshua's Tavern, mostly because of the very kind and attentive wait staff (I used to bring my Alzheimer's mother there a lot). Skip the lobster roll if you're dining later at Cook's, but their crab roll is very good and the seafood chowder too. We also like The Great Impasta, and my daughter the vegetarian is fond of the Scarlet Begonia, which is just a little sandwich place. There are also a couple of deli places in Brunswick that could probably pack you a picnic lunch to eat on the water down on Bailey's Island.
You might consider heading off Bailey (take Mountain Road off Rt 24 and then left on Rt 123) and go out the Harpswell neck to Dolphin Marina. No longer the half-boat shop/half restaurant that it was years ago, but for lobster stew, blueberry muffins, and the standard Maine seaside offerings, it's pretty good. Cook's has always been fine, but I remember laughing at the Mastercard TV ad that made it seem like it was the "off the beaten path" choice up that way. I'll second Checkman on taking Estes before Cooks.
I'd try Front Room, up on the East Prom at 73 Congress Street (see http://www.thefrontroomrestaurant.com/ for some flash photos of their very satisfying dishes). I've never seen a restaurant so consistently full of happy patrons, and it wasn't hard to learn why. It's also fun to watch exec chef Harding Smith and his staff at work in their open kitchen. Major comfort - both the food and the ambiance.
We live in Harpswell ( includes Bailey and Orr's Island , Great Island ) - unfortunately Cooks is well known to be way overpriced, although it has a fine view and an outside bar...food is of average quality. They are open year round, though. The Dolphin ( at the end of Basin Point on Harpswell penninsula )is only open for the summer, closing now ( Labor Day ) but I agree the chowder and muffins are the best. Estes is average food too ,albeit a nice view, but generally noisy with the ambiance of a chowhall, you eat on paper plates. The locals go to Jack Baker's Last Stand, a tiny place next to the Bailey Island Post Office, for the absolute best breakfast. They used to be open for dinners as well , but not this year. The food is homemade and fresh and the ambiance is homey and casual...we miss the dinners. A place to be warned about is the Bailey Island Market, which has a reputation for bad service and food ; maybe shut down already. I've heard that Allen's takeout on Lookout point is great; couldn't be fresher lobster rolls as it's right by the wharf and is also seasonal , but I'm not sure when they close. Not too many places in Harpswell to eat year round, too bad as the place is beautiful even in the winter. Our favorite wine shop, The Black Sheep is there, on Mountain Road, and is open all year with an astounding collection of fine wines.