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Chowish on Monhegan Island?

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gourmaniac Jun 25, 2007 08:15 AM

I am spending a week on Monhegan Island in mid July and will need places to eat. Does anyone on this board have recommendations for this idyllic setting for good eats? I'm mostly painting so simple and inexpensive fare is preferred. Thanks in advance.

  1. p
    punto Sep 27, 2007 11:37 PM

    I know that this is way after the fact, but I have spent considerable time on the island over the last 6 or 7 years.

    The Monhegan House has resumed its restaurant service after a year's hiatus and is quite good. They keep the menu very limited in choices and my limited sample last summer was very positive. Island Inn is the other main option and has been a good choice over the years. I can affirm the positive comments made elsewhere about Hot Fat from my one lunch there. The fish taco is much better than any description can possibly make it sound, so you're just going to have to trust me on that one. The Scruffy Dog has supplanted what was Fish and Maine and I have not visited it, though the menu looked promising. Other options also include the Barnacle's wraps, salads and noodles, the Novelty's pizza and other "fast food", both of which are generally pretty good. My favorite of all is the fare that is available from Shermie's Fish House (this may not be its official name, but anyone on the island would know what you are talking about if you called it that). You can get lobster or mussels boiled that you can eat on the beach front tables outside the house along with corn and cole slaw. Most other items from there, other than raw oysters and little neck clams, would require a kitchen to cook them in, but all their seafood has all been excellent in my experience.

    The situation regarding booze on the island is simple and has been a constant for as long as I have been visiting. You cannot buy a drink in any eating establishment for consumption there, but you can buy wine and beer (a good, but somewhat pricey assortment) at Carina, North End Market, Barnacle or the Novelty and then take it to the restaurants (or the beach or anywhere else you please) to drink without a corkage fee. No problemo. If you want martinis, BYOB on the ferry - there is no package store on Monhegan and you wont find anyone willing to share what they brought over, I can guarantee you.

    1. g
      gourmaniac Jul 24, 2007 12:41 PM

      Thanks all for your advice. Spent a delightful week on the island and ate well if not wonderfully. Monhegan House had breakfast included and one could order anything and everything on the menu. Some goodm some so-so. Dinners were usually sandwiches at the Novelty, or the Monhegan House dining room (not bad), panini from Josh Mostel at the Northend market or fish chowder or a crab roll from the fish market (Sherm's). .The highlight for me was a new food cart downhill from the lighthouse called Hot Fat. As the name suggestsit is a deep fat fryer set up on someone's land that takes the days catch (usually haddock), batter dips and fries this marvelously fresh fish. It's as good a piece of simple fare as I've had and it mad eme very happy. Available with fries or onion rings or as a fish taco (each for $9.00). Open at lunch or dinner for a couple of hours.

      1. welle Jun 26, 2007 11:41 AM

        I love Monhegan! There are not too many places to eat though, especially when on a budget. If you can, bring as many ready-to-eat foods with you as you can. Since you mentioned painting, you'd probably be out on the scenic cliff side of the island, which is a hike from the village, so you'd probably be packing your lunch with you. Make sure to visit Manana island.
        I forgot the name, but there was a lobster shack not too far from the Rope Shed where you could buy lobster rolls and live lobsters. There is not too much produce on the island, so if you can make sure to bring some unperishables like apples or melons - by the end of the week you'll be missing them for sure!

        1. tater_tot Jun 26, 2007 08:06 AM

          I've gone to Mohegan Island four years in a row. I've always stayed in the 1784 house - a rental from the Shinnig Sails... In my experience, Monhegan isn't a "dry island". I know there are two places that sell wine/beer. I would recommend the Carina General Store. They sell wine and all sorts of other great snacks - great selection of cheeses. They also get a load of fresh food/veggies from the main land every day. I'd suggest you shop there early if you're preparing your own meals while you are there.
          The North End Market also sells food, beer, wine etc.

          I like the sandwiches at the Novelty. That's a little store around the corner from the Monhegan House. Grab a sandwich there and head out on the walking trails! Another spot to try - The Fish House on Fish beach. they have great lobster rolls. Plus, you can buy fresh fish there if you're cooking your own meals.

          I usually have dinner at the Island Inn once while I'm there. It's pretty good food - but I wouldn't spend every night there.

          One last piece of advice.... Bring a Flashlight or two... When the sun goes down, it gets dark!!!! No street lights, no light pollution at all. If you want to take a walk at night, you'll need a flashlight to help you along the way.... That was the best piece of advice my friends gave me before my frist trip out to the island!! HAVE FUN!

          4 Replies
          1. re: tater_tot
            kittychow Jun 26, 2007 09:58 AM

            True - Monhegan is no longer totally dry. You can purchase beer and wine at a couple places (pretty sure the Island Inn now) but you can't order it with a meal. It's a BYOB kind of dry town, similar to Rockport MA. I would still recommend people bring wine/beer from the mainland as prices are high and selection is limited.

            Sandwiches at Novelty are pretty good. It would be wise to bring a small soft cooler that would be comfy to tote around while you walk the island.

            Great note about the flashlight! It really does get DARK out there. The ride over can also get a bit bumpy so if you're inclined to get seasick you may want to remember Dramamine... It's a short ride but it can feel really long if seas are rough. I hadn't made plans to go this summer but all this chat has me thinking I should really get up there.

            1. re: kittychow
              Harp00n Jun 26, 2007 11:28 AM

              Umm, not to pile-on kittychow, but Rockport, Ma. ain't dry anymore. There are no bars, per se, but you certainly can have the grain or grape with your victuals there these days.

              1. re: Harp00n
                kittychow Jun 26, 2007 12:23 PM

                Huh... Interesting. Any clue when that happened? My last trip (about 7 mos. ago) I brought a bottle of wine to the restaurant. Guess I can save myself a trip to the Wine & Cheese Cask next time I head out there.

                Fairly certain you still cannot order a glass of wine with dinner at any restaurants in Monhegan though but you're welcome to buy a bottle there or bring your own from the mainland.

                1. re: kittychow
                  Harp00n Jun 26, 2007 01:52 PM

                  The very first drink in Rockport was served at the Emerson Inn in July 2005.

          2. kittychow Jun 25, 2007 02:05 PM

            GREAT question! I LOVE Monhegan. :)

            The Trailing Yew is a nice homey place for breakfast. http://www.trailingyew.com/
            When I was there last I had wonderful home-made donuts. I also had them pack up "lobster on the rocks" for one evening. They pack up a picnic for you of standard clambake/lobster fare (corn, biscuits, steamed lobster, etc.) and then I trekked out on the rocks hear a "ship wreck" and enjoyed the sunset and yummy grub.

            There's really no fine dining on the island. The restaurant at the Island Inn is probably the "nicest" one there but I didn't eat much there as I preferred the more home style and personal service available elsewhere. People are so darn nice there! I found things to be very reasonable and fresh. Also note that Monhegan is a dry island. If you'd like wine or beer you'll need to bring it with you. Plenty of folks will help you find a chilly place to keep it. ;)

            1 Reply
            1. re: kittychow
              g
              gourmaniac Jun 26, 2007 05:32 AM

              Thanks Kittychow: Great advice on dining and I didn't know about the wine/beer issue. While I enjoy wine, a week away from it won't give me the shakes. I'm am staying at the Monhegan Hous which provides breakfast, but i'll be sure and try the Trailing Yew for one of my dinners.

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