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Help with heading Downeast?

OK all you lovely Maine and NE board posters -- would y'all care to help me plan a trip "down east" from Wiscasset-ish? I was planning on going back through all the lovely posts I've read the past few days with tips and hints from over the years, but realize some of the posts are rather dated. I thought instead perhaps I could entice you to generate a new Aug-2007 plan?

While I'd love to devote a trip just to eating Jim Leff-style, I come attached with two puppies, albeit well-food-acclimated ones. There's a substantive dh as well. So +/- most exceptionally tasty restaurants are fair game except super-expensive and/or white-cloth romantic dinners (what *is* that, come to think of it? I haven't eaten a meal where "scolding" wasn't on the menu in longer than I can remember). But if you're willing, I'd awfully much appreciate hearing about interesting local sights like museums or marshes full of some interesting critter or sight or a great hike somewhere. The Rugged Maine Scenic Waterfront-thing isn't a necessary encounter, but, well, pies (especially in conjunction with some interesting history) just might be (Yup, I know about Helen's and frankly, this may be one of the biggest motivators for the whole entire trip). We're deficient in the camping department at the moment, so if anyone happens to have overnighting thoughts too I'm all ears (eyes? -- though if posting such thoughts would be terribly offtopic, and you're willing, please don't hesitate to email offlist to roos at ucla dot biology dot edu). I've always thought all that watery Canadian Shield in the way north looked worth getting to feel, but it may just take too many hours driving through nowhere with nary a decent bite to eat at any end for the puplets. Someday, somehow I just have to make it up to NS and PEI! In the meantime, just getting as far as MDI would be an achievement.

Many, many thanks in advance for your new offerings, and for all the terrific old ones as well.

-aliris, a grateful interloper from a different board harking from far, far away.....

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  1. Im not sure how you feel about walking along the coast, but In Ogunquit there is a walk way along the coast called Marginal Way, that is well worth the senery but no dogs! And i dont know if you have any places to stay in mind but most Im fimilear with dont allow animals. There are a lot of places to eat in the Ogunquit and Wells area, and lots of places to stay. I will include a web site which might help. http://www.ogunquit.org/ Hope this helps some what , my advise is to look on the internet for chamber of commerce sites for places you might want to stay. Good Luck Earle

    1. When you say "puppies", are you referring to the 2-legged or 4-legged variety?

      1 Reply
      1. re: whs

        I was about to type "4-legged" in referring to my children! OK, so since it's children we're talking about, I guess the answer has to be "2-legged", but they seem to me to be all paws. Family with small kids that likes to eat and walk and think about the past. That's what we're talking about here. Plus, we're further north ("east"?) of Wells/Ogunquit already! But I'm not trying to sound ungrateful -- thanks for the web hints.

      2. I like your wonderfully enrapturing, poetic style, but where are you going? Give us an origin and a destination, pardon my hopeless pedantry, and we'll get you well fed.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Veggo

          Sorry sorry sorry! And sorry for the slow response and thanks for your replies, all. I am a really, really obtuse writer, I know. Especially when I'm embarrassed, as I am in asking for help here!

          Let me try again. "I" am one of a family that consists of two parents, and two small children. They like to eat just about anything, so their presence isn't limiting food-wise, but price and atmosphere-wise.

          We will be heading north along the coast from Wiscasset in a few days. I haven't been more specific because I don't know what-all we'll be doing very well myself. A few days ago I read some wonderful posts here I think with suggestions for offbeat places to go as well as eat "downeast" and my task soon will be to dredge up that post.

          Just about all I know I want to do is visit Helen's in Machias which I've been hearing about all my life; my parents went there some long while ago and have never stopped talking about it. So, whether good, changed, touristy or whatever, still I just want to try it. We may also hop across the border too while we're so close -- why not?

          The plan then, since I know I want to get there, will probably be to push north the first day and maybe stay in Cherryfield or Jonesport? I think we'll go further than the Schoodic peninsula at first and backtrack stopping there as time permits.

          Apart from Helen's, is there anything of note way-north, say from Cherryfield north along rte 1 or thereabouts? (I mention Cherryfield because it's noted on the map as one end of a 'scenic drive' along rte 182).

          We're basically interested in exploring what Maine might have looked more like several years back. That would include food as well as culture.

          Many grateful thanks for any pointers.

          BTW, other places that have struck my fancy while reading are:
          1. Moody's (Waldoboro)
          2. Good Company Cafe (Rockland), but maybe that's not really a kid place, more of a bar?
          3. The Edge for fancy pizza-tasting (Lincolnville), but maybe that's a tad froofy?
          4. Finelli's (Ellsworth) -- pizza highly recommended, but as a non-NY'er, I'm wondering whether it's too "NY" for me -- that flat cheese-stuff isn't what I like to think of when I think "pizza"; I prefer yummy chewy crust and interesting veggies. Sorry -- I know that's really, really detestable to some. There ought to be different names for the two...
          5. Primo's (Rockland), but that may be white-table-cloth; gotta check....

          The So Thomaston Keag store sounds intriguing, but I'd rather go check out Rockland, probably, when in that area. Lobster rolls I can make myself better and cheaper. Though the hint of $5 lobster rolls way up north sure sounds enticing...! I guess good, local not necessarily fancy but really good-tasting is what we're interested in. "Local" really doesn't have to mean lobster for us.

          1. re: aliris

            Primo is definitely a white tablecloth, grown-up experience. It's amazing, but with two small kids...hmmm. Anybody else have thoughts on this?

            If you're in Rockland, you might give thought to a day trip out to Monhegan Island. Dirt roads, no cars, old Victorian houses and inns, dramatic vistas. Good lobster rolls, but limited "fine" dining.

        2. Here's a post about the Schoodic Peninsula, which is just above Bar Harbor:

          Here's a post about lobster: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/425130

          Brunswick: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/423820

          I think your best bet is searching by specific destination.

          1. We were going to go have dinner at Maine Diner in Wells but the wait was horrendous at 7 pm so we crossed the street to Bull n Claw. It was really pretty good, especially seafood and perfect for a family. I had baked haddock with crabmeat stuffing. The haddock was fresh and cooked to perfection -- not overcooked at all as is often the case in largish family restaurants. The crabmeat stuffing was mostly crab, also fresh, not thawed. My son had fish n chips and the fish was the best of this sort I've had. Very fresh, lightly breaded and fried and not overdone or soggy at all. Husband had a buffalo chicken salad which he of few words kept exclaiming was 'great'.

            Now, it's a typical family restaurant and the salad bar won't send you in raptures but the veggies were fresh if not great in variety. My cup of vegetarian bean soup was okay. Blueberry Ale was tasty as was the Berry Lemonade.

            Overall, a nice surprise.

            1. two places i have enjoyed are the Red Barn in Milbridge and the White House in i forget what town, but between Milbridge and Machias. both are on rt1. both have some really good seafood (real seafood) chowder and/or stew. other items have been very good as well. including pies. at the white house you can buy pies to go.

              At helen's my limited experience has been that the lobster and scallop stews, and the pies, are very good. other selections haven't been as good as those.

              all these places are not fancified in the least, and welcome children. even those as unruly as mine.


              1. In Steuben, go to Country Charm (even though fish n chips aren't on the menu, ask for them--go for any meal, though, open for all), then continue down to the Petit Manan section of the Maine coastal islands national wildlife reserve--good walk/hikes there.

                Route 182 is beautiful, with plenty of lakes for swimming, canoeing, whatever, but no food along the route. Cherryfield, on the other end doesn't have much in the way of food (but it is a key point in glacial activity and sites--there's a map to all that, if you're interested, and just north in Deblois are a good chucnk of blueberry barrens. Check with tourism folks). Bring a picnic or snacks, or head down to Mibridge for a meal.

                In Milbridge, 44 Degress North is far, far better than Red Barn; if Joshy's is still open (take-out stand), that's a good choice, too. Skip White House in Jonesboro (unless you're staying at the cute, cheap, and super clean motel and cabins next door--Blueberry Patch, I think--then go for breakfast), instead loop down to Jonesport to Tall Barney's. Sit at the "Liar's Table"--the kids will love it, afterward, hike the preserve on Beals. Between Route 1 and 182 are Schoodic and Black Mountains -- great hikes--picnic at the summit. Or in Sullivan (or Hancock, never can remember which, it's on Rte. 1) go to Chester Pike's--go early if you want the homemade doughnuts, but on Friday night the fish fry is very popular.

                If you loop down to Winter Harbor, go to Chase's--before or after, you can hike Schoodic Head in the park.

                If you get to Machias, the Artist's Cafe is a good choice--fancier than any of the above, but not too fancy. The others are all the good home cookin, specialty is fried fish type of places. I think Helen's is living on a former rep., but that's just my opinion. Maybe just go for pie.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Mainegal

                  Oh thank you thank you. This is just exactly the sort of information I was looking for! Exactly. Our trip has been delayed by dh's sudden involvement with 100-year-old wiring (and his discovery of a charred beam below. Fire's long out now, but a good spur toward putting all that disaster-in-the-works on breakers!) So I'm still collecting info eagerly.

                  Interesting to know that Helen's may be past its prime. The mystique is in truth the background reason for my dash north, but I am prepared for this eventuality. I like the idea of going just for pie to maintain the romance. Also to allow space inside to try Artist's Cafe which sounds nice.

                  We're actually thinking of hauling along kayaks and checking out Jonesport-Beals. I appreciate these suggestions for down there. In fact, I may call the Blueberry Patch hotel you mention tomorrow and see if we can make that a destination ("cute, cheap and super clean" sounds like a good recommendation to me). It's awfully hard to cess out accommodations downeast online. TripAdvisor has info about hundreds of remote places, but nothing, essentially, about downeast. I am impressed.

                  What map are you referring to regarding glacial activity around Cherryfield, please? As geologists, we are interested in such things in principal although sometimes such maps are either too obvious or too obscure.

                  A few years ago I read a memoir written by someone who grew up in Marshfield north of Machias some while ago -- turn of the century perhaps? It was a *wonderful* book and I am looking forward to feeling the land there myself. Thanks for the negotiating hints.

                  Thanks to all else too for all the great thoughts.

                  1. re: aliris

                    The map covers Cherryfield, Milbridge, Harrington, Columbia falls, Addison--all the great blueberry barren areas in Maine-- http://iceagetrail.umaine.edu/ I want to try to figure out how to use it to find good blueberry picking. Before heading down to Jonesport Beals, call Tall Barneys to check its schedule. It's cut way back on hours and days, and if it's not open, there's not much else except pizza in town. Also know that the local lobstermen refer to kayakers as speed bumps. If you go anyway, go armed with a cooler of picnic fixings or prepare for the half-hour or so drive up and out to Machias for meals. Another choice in Machias is Bluebird Ranch--family style home cooking. Very popular locally, and it doesn't get the bus tours that Helen's gets.

                    1. re: Mainegal

                      Thanks, whs and Mainegal. We *still* haven't left -- that electrical tanglement in the basement is more of a mess than anticipated, evidently....grr.

                      I will be sure to try to attach something dayglo and bring some food supplies down in Jonesport. There are more and more kayaks around the boothbay region these days too. More and more speed bumps in the city too, come to think of it. Must be all part of the same phenomenon.

                      Went to Moody's yesterday; it was OK -- that is to say, not at all objectionable, they seem to have weathered their fame just fine. It's pretty odd that doing nothing wrong on poor food to begin with gets you so much accolades. Don't get me wrong -- we enjoyed it, and I'm glad we went. And I'm really appreciative of this forum alerting us all to such places. Still, .... -- Ship's Chow Hall was way more fun and in some ways better, too -- certainly more imaginative. Frankly the most interesting part of it were the old menus distributed all around.

                      1. re: Mainegal

                        That map is so absolutely way-cool I can hardly stand it. Thank you a million times over. In fact, it's so delicious I could eat it up, thereby justifying its notation here. Thank again!

                      2. re: aliris

                        If you plan to spend some time in Winter Harbor, check out these converted boathouses for accommodations: http://www.awa-web.com/stayinn/
                        There's a ferry from WH to Bar Harbor, which is chock full of places to eat.

                      3. re: Mainegal

                        Mainegal, spot on as usual! How do you do it?

                        1. re: Mainegal

                          "Cute, cheap and super clean" hotel is just where we stayed and I would like to report that it was just that. Thank you very much! As a destination it was highly relied-upon careening up from Beal's island past bedtime. What a lifesaver recommendation.

                          On advice from this site we skipped the White House next door though and hit up Tall Barney's in the morning instead. What a find! There are three people baking in the back, sweets, short-order and breads. We had breakfast biscuit-egg thingies, with large muffin-top-sized fresh baked biscuits. Very hot, very fresh, very yummy. French toast was even good-enough. We got some muffins and brownies and grapenut bars for a picnic. Muffins were heavy and delicious; other things a little sweet. But all very much of a find and very welcome in this fairly restaurant-barren land. A great place to stockup before hiking and kayaking Great Wass island. Thanks for the hints! It's quite unassuming from the outside so we could easily have missed it without fore-warning. BTW, that liar's table is probably best appreciated from a booth at the side -- leave the table to the liars themselves! An owner? -- baker at least, suggested that its greatest utility was in making the food taste better because of the enjoyment from all that one was listening to! I was amused -- it was her food she was taking about!

                          We met the White House restaurant owner, a former daycare operator. Nice guy but we felt comfortable in foregoing his restaurant.

                        2. I just returned home to Brookline from a trip to Maine with my wife and two dogs. We stayed on Christmas Cove on the Pemaquid Peninsula at a place called the Unique Yankee, www.uniqueyankeeofmaine.com/ The room we had has an attached courtyard for the dogs. As for the chow there are lobsters galore. The Pemaquid Fishermans Coop, Shaw's, Mascungas Lobster Pound (they also do oysters on the half shell which where delicious), just to name a few. There is Reilley's, a general store which some one mentioned for their pie. The Cupborard Cafe on the road to Fort William Henry does a very nice lunch with wonderful baked goods. I tried the blueberry cake, delicious. My favorite find was Osier's in So. Bristol. It is a gas station with a lunch counter and lobster tanks out back. You go out back, tell them what you want, (lobster and steamers were the best I had during my stay), then sit inside or on the deck upstairs and they bring it to you. I went back the next day for the lobster roll, also wonderful. Across the street is the Harborside Cafe, another market with a four or five tables. Their pie and chowder were very good but they didn't have them every day.

                          It was a great stay for our dogs and us. Great eating, spectacular coastline at Pemaquid Light, and beautiful coves to explore.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: chuck s

                            Thank you; I love those rocks at Pemaquid Light! Careful not to turn your back on that sea. My dh remembers good eating at Round Pond, but a couple years back it was nothing much to recommend on the wharf there. Busy though. I'll look forward to trying the Cupboard and also Osier's!

                            Mainegal, blueberries are plentiful, usually, on ledges -- it ought to be possible to determine those on the map? I'm not getting much magnification online, but in person it should be easy enough? Where do you buy a "hardcopy" of the thing, short of Orono? [apologies if I've just stated the obvious].