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The Maine Diner, is it all that?

I'd like your opinions. Seems that the Phantom Gourmet guys (I can't stand them, DH loves them) fall all over the place every other show. I regularly drive by there on the way to one of my favorite Wells eateries, Marcia's Mexican. And no doubt, at the Maine Diner there are always, always people waiting outside. Have you eaten there? Did the heavens open, choirs celestial sing, etc?

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  1. I know I'll get crucified for this, but I don't think there's anything special about the Maine Diner. The prices are reasonable and the food is generally acceptable, but no, the heavens won't open. You'll hear people wax rhapsodic about the lobster pie, which I've had, and which is virtually inedible. Basically it's a lobster casserole. They put pre-cooked lobster in a baking dish, cover it with butter and bread crumbs, and stick it back in the oven until the lobster reaches a temperature of about 800 degrees, which turns it into rubber. My advice is keep driving.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rufustfi

      I am sad to say I must concur with rufustfi's comment. Yes, I've eaten there. With all the hype how could I not. Breakfast twice and it was ok. In fact the hash was good though by now I should know better than to indulge in that dish if I'm unwilling to suffer later in the day (not their fault). But is just a place to eat and no more, not memorable for fantastic anything and we just don't stop there any more. The just off the street coffee and pastry shops in Ogunquit suit me more.

      1. re: feelinpeckish

        I have to concur. We went twice for dinner and with the exception of the seafood chowder (which was fantastic), the food is fair at best. The shepherds pie was awful, the scallops were tough, the burger was average, the biscuits were like rocks. With the exception of the seafood chowder go elsewhere.

        1. re: feelinpeckish

          Count me in as someone who doesn't get the hype. It just wasn't that good. Neither was the place across the street (can't remember the name).

          I have the same problem with The Wayside restaurant in Berlin, VT. What -is- it about that place that keeps it so packed all the time? A friend overheard an oldtime Vermonter speaking ruefully about it "The tripe just isn't as good as it used to be at the Wayside." :)

      2. To us, the Maine Diner delivers on its promise. There is definitely a reason why its so crowded: it's really good. We like the reasonable prices, the always terrific service and food that you'd pay a fortune for at some of the nearby overrated (and not as good) waterfront restaurants. It's hard to find a better chowder and lobster pie than at the Maine Diner. When we're in the area, this is our first choice!
        Guy Bocabella, VisitingNewEngland.com, http://www.visitingnewengland.com

        1 Reply
        1. re: Guy Boccabella

          Good taste is not democratic. Mobbed McDonald's too.

        2. Not worth stopping at and especially not worth waiting in line with the rest of the cattle.

          1. My husband and I thought it was "all that" when we were there over the summer. Had wonderful lobster salad and blueberry pie. Both were excellent. The service was friendly and prompt; the atmosphere busy and fun. Go at an off time and you won't have to wait long or at all. I say go and have a good time!

            1. The Maine Diner is indeed *all that*! We stopped there on our way home from Castine last summer. There were no lines when we got there. The food was exceptionally good; service friendly and prompt.

              We got their Whoopie Pies to take home. Big mistake. Should have had those for lunch, too. :D

              1. If you want what IMHO is the definitive seafood chowder, the Maine Diner has it. They have good pies, the rest of the menu is good quality "yankee food", pot roast, baked stuffed haddock etc... I stop there off season if there is no line.

                1 Reply
                1. re: humin

                  I like it a lot. Great onion rings, good pies, nice fresh native veggies in season. But it's a diner, it's not the White Barn Inn.

                2. I love the Maine. Lobster Pie is great, as are all desserts. Even the mac & cheese is wonderful.

                  1. It was good but nothing over the top! They have wonderful corn muffins and good chili dogs...

                    1. I've eaten there many times long before the Purple People started humping the place and many times afterwards. In all that time I've only had one bad serving of the lobster pie and everything else was top notch.. So I would suggest that your bad experience was an unfortunate anomaly. "Humin", I would agree that their seafood chowder is excellent but "best-in-show" of the chowders, IMO, would be the fish chowder at The Dolphin Chowderhouse in S. Harpswell, Me. Unfortunately I'll have to wait til Spring to get my fix.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Harp00n

                        Oh, the Dolphin... so good to hear it mentioned here. Nothing like that fat wad of melted mozzarella in the haddock sandwich either...

                        1. re: Harp00n

                          Haven't been to the Dolphin Chowderhouse, so I can't comment. However now that you've sparked my curiousity I anticipate a trip to S. Harpswell coming next summa.

                        2. The Dolphin is worth the trip, espeicially if you can arrive by boat and tie up at the marina - Real fish chowder lots of milk and butter - not thick though, fresh white fish and a home baked blueberry muffin with every bowl. Yum....

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Northender

                            Arriving by boat is a great way to get there, "Northender" I've arrived on foot,by car,by bike, by boat, by kayak and I'd arrive by yak, if need be!. You're also right about the chowder, i.e.; they don't artificially thicken it with flour or arrowroot. Also, make sure you order an additional blueberry muffin. Trust me, one will not be enough. Man,I can't wait until May 1st, I need a fix.

                            Here's their link;
                            http://www.dolphinchowderhouse.com/

                            1. re: Harp00n

                              Thanks HarpOOn- I could probably eat three of their blueberry muffins - but then the boat would sink!.Thanks.

                          2. I enjoyed my one visit to the Maine...and so did everyone else in my family. Which is probably the point--it's a diner, it's a family place. The skies didn't open (thought it did start raining right when we walked inside--which I just thought was neighborly, since we'd had a 15 minute wait), there were no angels singing, but I had a darn good biscuit, the coffee was good enough, and everyone else liked their pancakes and what all. Most of all, the people working there were friendly, which isn't always the case...

                            1. I've driven by it a jillion times and stopped once. I had a lobster roll. It was OK but hardly the best one I've ever had. It'd definitely a bermuda short, black socks, and sandals kind of touron place.

                              1. Yes. For the lobster roll alone.

                                1. If all you're looking for is a good lobster roll, there are at least half a dozen places in Wells alone that would fit the bill. You could go across the street to to Bull N' Claw and get a lobster roll that's virtually indistinguishable from what you'd get at the Maine Diner. I'm not saying the roll at the Maine Diner is bad--just that it's not special, which is true, I think, of everything they serve. Except for that horrible lobster pie, which is truly bad.

                                  1. I agree with what has been said regarding service, price, etc. all quite good. one additional reason i stop there is that it is 'easy on/easy off' the expressway, and a place i can take my children as we head further north.

                                    1. I like the Maine Diner, but I don't love it. There are better diners in New England (IMO, of course!), such as the outstanding Chelsea Royal in Brattleboro, VT, and Moody's in Waldoboro, ME .

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: hiddenboston

                                        I like all three but if I had to choose just one it would be the Royal Chelsea.
                                        You left off the Blue Benn, but then, it should be.

                                      2. If you like diner food, I think it's a good place to go at least once.

                                        Both my husband and I had awesome meals, although we are both introverts and standing in long lines and being smooshed at the counter with people on either side of us was a little hard. So was the noise level.

                                        I had the lobster pie and I loved it. I wouldn't go back though, because my personality can't handle the craziness!

                                        1. Clearly the Maine Diner - like Becky's Diner in Portland or Waldaboro's Moody's Diner - is a place where reputation and expectations collide. Its a diner, not Street & Company or Legal Seafood hidden inside a Worcester Diner exterior. Being a great diner does not equate with greatness on a white tablecloth level - generally speaking, its not supposed to.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Keefer Lucas

                                            I'd have to agree with you..
                                            Then, what it comes down to is good, fast home-cooked service, and of higher importance than other places -- Price.

                                            So, how does Maine Diner's price compare to other diners or similar type restaurants in New England? I got the impression that Maine Diner charged a premium price vs other diners due to their easy-on easy-off access and their TV advertising.

                                          2. I agree with some of the others, Its an ok place but not exciting. I had the turkey diner and It was a turkey roll. Its basic diner food, not a real nice place inside the tables are very small And we had one for 4 in the corner and it was hard for 4 adults to sit. If it was the only place open it would be ok, But Ive been there once and would not go back again, If that tells you something. Earle

                                            1. We vacation in Ogunquit once/year and we always make a stop at the Maine Diner. I enjoy their Strawberry Shortcake made with their homemade biscuits. If anyone has another recommendation where they make a great strawberry shortcake (in the same vicinity), I would appreciate it.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. I guess I'm the only one who hates the rubbery overcooked lobster swimming in butter and soggy bread crumbs (i.e. lobster pie). Okay, I accept my minority status.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: rufustfi

                                                  That was pretty much my observation - it was like chewing on a tire.

                                                  The seafood chowder, I think thats what it was, was the only highlight (the first time around). The second time around - nothing was of any note.

                                                2. I was there about three weeks ago on the trip from Brunwick to Manchester down route one and the place, which I have been through before, wasn't bad if you stick to the basics. I had an omelette with potatoes and rye toast and it was fine. My companion, a vegetarian, had a Rueben without the meat and she liked it. I would not expect gourmet cooking but, as diners are supposed to at a level like a greasy spoon, the Maine Dinner is a good example of the kind.

                                                  1. We stopped at the Maine Diner about a year and a half ago. Expectations were for basic fare done well, especially seafood and diner classics. The SO had a lobster roll which was drab and didn't seem very fresh. I had scallops. They had been previously frozen. How could I tell? Because the centers were still icy. Not good. We ordered a side of mac and cheese, just to see how it was--oily and flavorless, it turned out.

                                                    I can perfectly well believe that many people have had good experiences there on different days or with different orders. But for us it was a low point of that trip to Maine.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: jgl

                                                      Not "all that", but not terrible. Chowder is decent. The food is mostly ok. I can't stand those Phantom Gourmet guys either. I don't think they're close to accurate on many of their ratings

                                                    2. I was there a couple of months ago. Wouldn't recommed it. After all the hype I made sure to haul the family there, and we were expecting much more. Service was lousy, chowder was borderline cold. Waitress totally screwed up one whole order.

                                                      1. I have been to the Maine Diner three times, and loved it all. I had a breakfast, a lunch, and a dinner there while honeymooning back in 2001. It exceeded my expectations. I was a chef for 18 years, so I know a little about restaurant food. The Maine Diner was a fun, happy, loud, delicious ride. Sure eggs are just eggs, toast is just toast, but, the hash was a knockout. The She Crab Bisque/Chowder was absolutely the best I have ever had. The Lobster Pie was as succulent and as rich as anyone could possibly want. We are visiting Wells Beach off season this September, and a few trips to the Maine Diner are in our plans...........can't hardly wait!!!

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: FullMoonie

                                                          If you haven't been there since 2001, it is entirely possible that the place has gone downhill since. My experience there wasn't as pleasant as yours. :)

                                                          1. re: Morganna

                                                            Yes, it's entiely possible that it has gone downhill. I will find out for myself next month. I can't wait to see, hear and smell the ocean again. I need it like a fix. I will let you all know what I think of The Maine Diner now when I get back. "If you keep riding the wave......................you'll reach the beach.

                                                          2. re: FullMoonie

                                                            I'd enjoy the memories but lower my expectations, if I were you.

                                                            1. re: three of us

                                                              I've been a couple of times in the last two years. It's typical dinner food. If I'm hungry and happen to be driving by, I'll stop but I wouldn't go out of my way to get there.

                                                          3. I was there last week!
                                                            We ate their twice for budget, convenience, and the something for everyone menu. Gourmet - no. Easy - yes.
                                                            Busy - Yes yes. If you are going for breakfast, get there before 8am. Dinner was a 40 minute wait, but we were not in a hurry.

                                                            Had corned beef hash for b'fast - yum. DH had the blueberry pancakes..he liked them. for dinner I had the frankfurter (huge) and their homemade baked beans( very nice). The rest had burgers. DH had their homemade mac & cheese, which he said was decent.

                                                            The Indian Pudding was worth a trip back. Corn muffings were tasty, too.
                                                            The service is pretty on it, but I noticed it attracts a lot of high mainten. customers (ahem) so, the waitresses seem a bit stressed at times.

                                                            I was so tired of trying to dine on the "strip" this was a welcome relief....