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Rockland Cafe, Rockland, ME

I was just poking around in the archives and saw a few posts about breakfast recommendations in Rockland, Maine. I am very surprised that nobody mentions the Rockland Cafe. It is always our first breakfast of our summer trips to Maine. I have scrambled eggs with a fried bagel and a side of fish cakes. Yummmmy! A big part of the appeal is the fish cakes, which I've never seen on a diner-type breakfast menu before in Maine, home in Toronto or anywhere in between. It's like the east coast corned beef hash - actually Rockland Cafe has pretty good corned beef hash, too, as I recall. So what's the scoop? Any good or bad experiences with Rockland Cafe? And I'm talking about basic breakfasts here not brunch.

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  1. I have lived on the coast of Maine for almost 20 years and the Rockland Cafe is the only place I know that still serves the classic Maine breakfast, fish cakes and beans. I phone ahead when we go to Rockland and have them save us some, they often sell out of the fish cakes.

    does anyone know other places that serve fish cakes and beans for breakfast or salt fish and potatoes for lunch or dinner?

    6 Replies
    1. re: Passadumkeg

      I haven't tried the beans for breakfast yet at the Rockland Cafe. Are they homemade beans from scratch using dried beans or are they canned Heinz or Bush's?

      1. re: JMF

        The beans seem to be homemade, but have a smokey flavor that bothers me a bit. It is, however, the fish cakes, man, the fish cakes, with a fried egg on the side. I just wish I could find a restaurant w/ salt fish and potatoes w/ pork scraps. The real authentic Maine heart stopper meal! We will be in Rockland for the blues festival and look forward to The Rockland Cafe, Contes and a few Wasses on the side.

        1. re: Passadumkeg

          Okay, P'dumkeag, I wasn't at Rockland Cafe three Sundays ago like I promised (I heard they were swamped due to the blues fest) but I was there 4 or 5 times in the past two weeks. I tried the beans and I'm sorry they're too sweet for me, although I do think they are home made. I had great beans at a public supper at the South Thomaston Methodist Church. I think it's always the last Wednesday of the month. I don't know who made them but they were excellent. And keep your fork, Duke, there's pie. Blueberry, sour cherry, strawberry rhubarb, raspberry, pumpkin, and all those cream pies I don't bother with.

          Did you have a bagel at Rockland Cafe? They used to be grilled in butter but now they're toasted and come dry.

          Fish cakes were still good. Homemade beef hash is good but they should go a little lighter on the dried thyme.

          Conte's was bad and I'm so sad. I used to love that place. He prepares everything the same way with no innovation at all anymore. The seafood is fresh but it's all doused in olive oil and garlic and the servings are so huge you eat yourself sick. One plus is the salad is good and that's hard to come by in Maine.

        2. re: JMF

          If anyone in New England is opening a can of beans, rather than making them from scratch, it's probably B&M Beans.

          1. re: Shooley

            Since then I've found that the bean of choice in Maine seems to be Look's Atlantic, either their yellow eye beans or soldier beans. I really like their soldier beans, they are the best canned bean that I've had.

            1. re: JMF

              A favorite of this old Mainer, too.

      2. I was in Rockland this weekend, and after having Friday lunch at the Brown Bag (which was lovely), I noticed they had huevos rancheros on the menu, my all-time favorite breakfast food. Regrettably, we traveled to Moody's in Waldoboro for breakfast on Sat, instead. It was our first excursion to that iconic place, and it was a terrible disapointment. The mushrooms were canned, the sausage in the omelette was just hunks of patty diced up, and no potatoes or anything on the side.

        It made me long for the lovely classic New England breakfasts I've had at the Rockland Cafe, with fluffy omelettes and, most important, real maple syrup. Can't wait to try the fish cakes and beans- haven't had good ones since the old diner in Hillsborough, NH changed hands in 2005, and all the old-time NE food was taken off the menu (sigh).

        2 Replies
        1. re: happybellynh

          Just checking in on my previous report- I tried the huevos at the Brown Bag this week, and probably wouldn't again. Just two flour tortillas with cheddar, two eggs and salsa, sour cream, and a side of refried beans. The beans were nice... but the overall effect was a little weak.

          Had a good dinner at the Rockland Cafe too- I wanted fish cakes, but they don't have them as a meal (was hoping maybe for fish cakes and beans, with a salad- but they didn't have beans that night either) Had very nice, light, sweet fish and chips instead... loved every bite, the tartar sauce was good and seemed homemade? and the coffee was fantastic. DH's meatloaf was so-so. Our server was young and very busy, but enthusiastic. Will definitely go back... still have to try those fish cakes.

          1. re: happybellynh

            When I want my grease fix, I get the 1/2 lb scallops w/ fries. Not great, but cheap and the fries make up for the Calico Bay scallops.

        2. I had breakfast at the Rockland Cafe twice last week. The fishcakes are really good and a great bargain at $2.25 each. I asked for it well done the second day and it was even more browned with crunchy bits, mmm. Down-East comfort food is how I think of them. (Yes I know it is mid-coast but down-east has a better ring to it.) I can have just one of them and it's a good breakfast. I tried to find out how they were made but they wouldn't tell. I will get the recipe from them eventually now that I moved to just a half mile from town.

          Their corned beef hash is very good when it is homemade, but for something different their homemade beef hash is another comfort food. It is made from chopped beef, not corned beef ,and is a creamy mix of the beef, onions, potatoes, mild spices and other stuff, maybe carrots?

          1. Hi, We live in Maine, near Bangor..
            We ALWAYS eat at this cafe when in Rockland.. It is the very best!
            Great food amd Maine atmosphere!

            1. I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Thomaston Cafe (10 mi south of Rockland, right on Rt. 1)

              They serve a wonderful breakfast - everything freshly prepared. And they usually have fishcakes as well as freshly baked bread!

              3 Replies
              1. re: finewineserver

                I don't go there anymore. I noticed over the last few years they went way down hill. Two years ago I said it was my last time since the breakfast was so bad. Then I got dragged there last year and I paid and left halfway through the meal. It was terrible.

                1. re: JMF

                  Have to agree, Thomaston Cafe has gone way downhill. I think that the best breakfast in the area is Brass Compass, then the Brown Bag. Rockland Cafe to me is kind of well greasy and common. I would not recommend it, maybe only for breakfast, maybe....

                  1. re: aynne35

                    I agree- I've consistentlty had great breakfasts at the Brass Compass. no matter how busy they are, the onions in the veggie omelette are always nearly caramelized (I've done short-order breakfast cooking, and that's an easy corner to cut when it's packed).