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Midcoast Maine for weeknight locals?


Where are locals eating on a regular old night in Midcoast ME? I see tons of rec's for Francine, Natalie's, Primo, (as well as some of the nicer establishments in Rockland- Amalfi, Rustica) but virtually nothing about the moderately priced family-oriented places in the area for a bite to eat in jeans (other than the Rockland Diner).

Any thoughts on...

Cody's Roadhouse (Rockport)
The Landings (Rockland)
The Quarter House (Camden)
Black Bull Tavern (Rockland)

Or some of the ethnic that doesn't get on the boards, like Tamarind and Su Casa?

Any others? Anything in Thomaston?

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  1. We always have fun at Cafe Miranda in Rockport. http://www.cafemiranda.com/about.html

    Call ahead and reserve the "bar" which overlooks the kitchen- dinner and a show!

    1. Will you come down to Wiscasset?? We really like LeGarage on the water, great downstairs bar area that is usually quiet. I also like the Robinhood Free Meetinghouse in Georgetown, a little more elegant but the food is great! Used to be a place called the Osprey further down into Georgetown that is now run by a Bath eatery...

      1. Sorry, happybelly, but none of the above are any good. Ok for beer and a burger, but that's about it. There is a small Mexican place on Main Street in Rockland that is not bad, the Sunfire Grill. Having lived in Arizona for 18 years, I find that there's no really good Mexican anywhere in Maine that I've tried but, that said, the Sunfire is fine...certainly better than that overpriced place in Northport (can't remember the name) that actually used barbecued pork (!) in a shredded pork enchilada, and the place doesn't even have tacos. Yech. In Good Company on Main Street, while not necessarily a family place, is definitely great for wine and casual, small plates. Tamarind is ok, too. Not the greatest, but definitely far better than this awful chain Chinese place that moved into town a year or so ago; they're an all-buffet, all-the-time kind of place that actually has macaroni and cheese (!), among other non-Asian items, at the buffet table. And, I'm not sure what their hours are now that it's Jan. but the Owls Head General Store is great for family fare; they used to stay open until 6 or 7.
        Oh, and the other poster who mentioned Cafe Miranda: it's in Rockland, not Rockport.

        1. In Rockland

          The places you mention are mediocre. I won't eat there.

          I don't care for Tamarind. Not authentic at all. I even got in an argument with the owner when I said certain ingredients don't belong in Thai food. (I studied at two Thai culinary schools, besides many others.) Also he said that Thai's don't eat sticky rice only Laotians do. Since that is THE rice of choice in the north and east it made me wonder what nationality the owner is.

          All the Chinese places are horrible.

          In Good Company is excellent.

          Sunfire grill is a Maine take on Cal/Mex. Not to my taste but others like it. They are closed for the month of January.

          Cafe Miranda is just waaaay to fusion.

          Suzuki Sushi is excellent.

          Rustica for Italian/med is pretty good.

          Amalfi is med/fusion. Some very good dishes and some just don't come together well.

          I don't understand why people like the Owls Head General store. I had their burgers three times and each time mediocre. And they brag about them?

          2 Replies
          1. re: JMF

            Re. Thai food in Rockland and its authenticity: you can pull whatever rank you want, but jeez! give me (and the Tamarind guy, who's very nice, by the way) a break! This is a tiny burg in the whitest state in the country. 'Nuf said.

            1. re: JMF

              Bittersweet appreciation for your comment on the "award-winning" General Store burgers. The bun is good. The meat, if tasted solo - is only moderately good - in fact, it contained some surprise hard bits. I suppose the hamburger is "great" if you completely cover it with all the options.

            2. We just returned from another stay in Rockland, and still enjoy the Black Bull Tavern (www.blackbulltavern.com). Nothing fancy, but just a very comfortable, jeans welcome, environment. Same with the Cactus Restaurant opposite the Trade Winds Hotel. We have enjoyed the Waterworks in the past also, but they were closed the entire time we were in town - is something happening there?

              Our breakfasts every day at the Brass Compass Cafe were outstanding.

              I agree with the recommendation on Le Garage in Wiscasset; but I believe they close down in January.

              In Damariscotta, King Eider's Pub is also a favorite of ours.

              Jerry Saywell

              1. Have you tried Mikado's in Camden?

                I like Waterworks, and the Breakwater Cafe at the Samoset - both in Rockland. The Breakwater has an all you can eat fish & chips dinner every Friday night for $13-14 per person + drinks - my friends and I often go there. Not dressy at all - either place - and both are reasonably priced.

                The Whalestooth Pub in Lincolnville Beach is great too.

                If you can handle 'not paying for atmosphere' around mid-coast Maine, I would also recommend Conte's in Rockland. It is a place like no other.

                That's my two cents!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Mainenative

                  Thanks for mentioning Conte's. We occasionally make a trip down from Ellsworth just to visit Conte's. We love the atmosphere and the brass cojones waitresses. May I suggest to split a meal; they are huge. What about Amalfi"s? We've certainly enjoyed it. Want to go slumming? Hit the Rockland Cafe for all-you-can-eat fried seafood(But do get your cholesterol checked after.). Good fishcakes and beans for breakfast too. Has the Water Works gone down hill? We used to many an hour there drinking beer, throwing darts by the fireplace and waiting for the North Haven Ferry. Enjoy the snow and go eat a Wasses w/ chile & onions for me.
                  Oh yes, Shooley, as a former New Mexican(Go Lobos!), the only Mexican food I eat in Maine thus far, is the aptly named Mexican Restaurant (It is run by Guatamalans!) on Rt 1 in Hancock. It even helps to Speak Spanish and the tamales are just like New Mexican ones.

                2. We had a quick lunch in Damariscotta at the King Wok, in the Yellowfront plaza. We loved the lumpia! The hunan duck was a bit too sweet, but with lots of duck. There are a half dozen Filipino specials in addition to the standard Chinese American menu items. They run a buffet sometimes, not when we were there on a Sunday. I want to go back to try the other Filipino dishes because those lumpia really hit the spot!

                  1. Thanks, all, for the ideas. Who'd have thought that a regular old weeknight burger, maybe $8-12 pp, would be so hard to come by...

                    Jerry Saywell, we took your advice and tried King Eider's Pub in Damariscotta this weekend, and really enjoyed the chicken pot pie and bangers and mash. Brings to mind- I tried the bangers/mash at Billy's Tavern in Thomaston when they first opened, haven't been back since.

                    Thanks, all- I've got Mikado, LeGarage, and the Owl's Head Gen Store on my list. I can't resist a general store burger... even if it is mediocre!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: happybellynh


                      The Owl's Head Gen Store burger is really good and $5 for what they call the 7-napkin special (or is it 4, can't remember!). Everyone I know--foodies, chefs, and hungry teenagers--love them, too. I don't know what the other poster is talking about. Cheers!

                      1. re: nubbin

                        It's now $5.50 for a plain burger with mustard of ketchup. Anything else is additional. Good bun.

                    2. Is the restaurant on the town square in Union or the Thomaston Cafe open evenings?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                        Going out on a limb here but when I moved away nearly 2 years ago the Thomaston Cafe was doing dinners only on Friday and Saturday night. I believe Mark in Union is still doing dinner every day he's open. Both are great places for lunch-time burgers, great soups in Thomaston, as I recall, and a decent wine selection for such a small list (gotta love those French chefs).

                      2. In Thomaston there is a place that opened last summer that is pretty good, Billy's Pub. The pub grub is good but the seafood and specials are very good. Their steamed mussels Provence are very good, also great local raw bar.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: JMF

                          Just tried Billy's this weekend- a great local blues band was playing, and DH and I both had a pint of Guinness and bangers and mash. The peas were dreadfully undercooked, but on the whole, it was a great night at the local pub, and the food was very satisfying. We'll definitely be back! (Although next time we'll probably split a salad and the bangers/mash- the portion was pretty hefty, and half plus a salad would have been just right).

                          1. re: happybellynh

                            How in the world can peas be dreadfully undercooked? LOL! Peas are even good raw!

                            1. re: jackattack

                              Cold and crunchy? Not good, in my opinion. When they come frozen in a bag, and are still nearly in that state on your plate, I think it calls for a little more cooking.

                        2. Have never been disappointed with anything from the Thomaston Cafe & Bakery, although I've only eaten breakfast and lunch there. Real food, very well prepared. Interesting enough to appeal to the curious, solid enough to meet anyone's expectations. Comfy open room with no pretenses. Popular with locals. The menu online indicates they're open for dinner, but don't know the days:

                          1. The Samoset Restaurant in New Harbor reopened last summer under new owners/cooks. I have heard good things about it but have not tried it yet. Definately would be more of the bite to eat in jeans type place you mention. My understanding is its a husband/wife team and he is the cook. He is from the south and uses alot of southern/creole type flavors

                            1. PRIMO in Rockland!!!! is PRIMO, and the chef can cook her arse off. I went a year or so ago and it was great.

                              29 Replies
                              1. re: pavlov_dog

                                Casual no reservations required kind of places, some repeats and some new:

                                Billy's Tavern, Thomaston
                                King Eider, Damariscotta
                                Conte's, Rockland
                                The Harpoon, Port Clyde
                                Newcastle Publick House, Newcastle
                                Three Tides, Belfast (is that still considered Mid Coast?)

                                Billy's Tavern
                                1 Star St, Thomaston, ME 04861

                                Newcastle Publick House
                                52 Main St, Newcastle, ME 04553

                                Three Tides
                                40 Marshall Wharf, Belfast, ME 04915

                                1. re: crawfish

                                  My adds to casual no reso's (well not always) places from above and above in the mid-coast area

                                  Billy's in Thomaston...ok fairly real food.. but whew.. terrible acoustics... really echo-y
                                  Miranda from above... "waaaaay too fusion"??? For who? for what? Miranda has (in my opinion) the most real food in town.
                                  Conte's of course say no more.. even in the new booring :-) location,,, if you are hungry look out!
                                  Black Bull, (are they still open?) Plastic food, frozen fries etc. but nice big bar to sit and drink and talk etc
                                  In Good Company... great small menu. just right on a mid week night.
                                  Primo at the bar? It's Primo.. they work very hard at being the best they can be.
                                  I agree from above about Amalfi, some things ok (like a cold bottle of white wine on the deck in the summer)... some things not at all...
                                  Hey look out for one of my all time favorite places to sit in the sun outside on a summer afternoon.. what has been the ever changing circus of the Harbor View In Thomaston. That place is a jewel... out on that "deck" (even if it is a little rough) looking out over the river, facing west for afternoon sun, (only place around to get good afternoon sun) eating steamed clams fresh from down the river? Seems Port Clyde Seafood CO. is going to lease the place (bought the business). So as long as they can do an ok job on the food... it will again be a great spot to sit for afternoon cocktails overlooking the river.. I can't wait.
                                  Whales Tooth pub In Lincolnville... now there is a no reso burger. Hey places with Big Whale Signs are really the place to go to... unlike some other comment that one should stay away.. how wrong they were.

                                  just a few ideas.. will post a few more as they come to me

                                  In Good Company
                                  415 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841

                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                      Good question... I have not been in a few years.. did not find a reason to go back since... but that does not mean that a good burger can not be had there these days...I cannot say.

                                      Can anyone else weigh in? (bet they would be frozen fries and not hand cut though)

                                      1. re: Beauly

                                        I used to live on North Haven Island and spent a lot of time w/ other locals waiting for the ferry, shooting darts, with the fireplace roaring, drinking pints. The burgers and mussels were memorable
                                        We go to the Blues Festival every year, for 15 years and anchor ourselves in The Waterworks. We'll be back this summer, Stop by the WERU booth at the NABF.

                                    2. re: Beauly

                                      Miranda, to put it plainly, is terrible.

                                      1. re: JMF

                                        Pretty strong statement with no thoughts behind your opinions. I happen to think that Miranda's is an wonderful midcoast restaurant for a weeknight dinner. Lots of options, relatively low prices. The wood oven really adds flavor to the dishes. I never hesitate to stop by for a casual, enjoyable weeknight meal.

                                        1. re: JMF

                                          To put it plainly, your statement is terrible, And typical, but will not work here. This is not trip advisor where one can say a place is terrible and give it a lousy rating which affects its overall rating. If you say a place is terrible and give no reasons why, then people can't take you seriously. And if people can't take you seriously, then your statements are meaningless.
                                          So maybe you could elaborate on what it is that you have experienced at Cafe Miranda that allows you to dismiss the restaurant in as little as one single word?

                                          Cafe Miranda
                                          15 Oak St, Rockland, ME 04841

                                          1. re: Beauly

                                            Don't give in to the trolls.

                                            On Waterworks, I go there often and it is still solid -- the best choice in the area for drinks and casual pub fare. They've changed their menu a bit in the past year or so...but the food is consistently good. And free popcorn to boot!

                                          2. re: JMF

                                            Not a local, just wish I was - but we've had many very good to great meals at Cafe Miranda. Sure, the menu is massive, but anything I've had there has been uber-fresh. Give me the arugula salad with beets and a plate of Port Clyde shrimp, and I'm in heaven, plain and simple. The help is efficient and nice, the vibe is definitely casual, and we find it a great place to unwind with good food. It's not fine dining, but it doesn't pretend to be.

                                            Cafe Miranda
                                            15 Oak St, Rockland, ME 04841

                                            1. re: harrie

                                              BTW, the Black Bull IS closed.

                                              Looks like this is about to become a Cafe Miranda thread. My two cents: this town is a much better place with Miranda. Are there menu items that don't work? Absolutely. Some things just have "too much stuff" going on in the dish...BUT...then there are some dishes I can't get out of my head...currently it's the Beef Groce. I guess that's just the way it goes at a place with 8,000 menu items. Chef Kerry isn't afraid to push the boundaries.

                                              ps. Harrie - why aren't you a local??

                                              Cafe Miranda
                                              15 Oak St, Rockland, ME 04841

                                              1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                I agree with you 100% about Miranda. Some dishes don't work. We have friends who we joke with about Miranda.... "its a great place if you like kale" :-)
                                                However... it is all 100% real.. nothing frozen out of a box in a deep fryer, like sooooooo many other places... and places just up and down the street. I can always find something that works very very well at Miranda, and so I always jump at the chance to go.

                                                1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                  We ate at black bull last summer. I dont recall the details other than we really didnt like it. The service was especially horrible but the food wasnt good either.

                                                  King Eiders is a cute place but my 1 experience with food there was really bad. Their "best chicken wings in maine" were terrible. Soggy/no flavor and the ones i was served were still FROZEN in the middles! They were very apologetic and took them off the bill, stating that it has been a problem lately!? I was with a party of 5 and nobody was impressed with their food. Way overpriced as well.

                                              2. re: JMF

                                                I haven't been to miranda in several years since I moved out of town, but I found the dishes to be poorly thought out, and executed. The last two occasions I couldn't even eat more than a few mouthfuls of the dish. Once it was mussels with a broth so bitter and one dimensional that it screamed about how how bad it was. You may not know me, or my food and restaurant experience, but I am a food and beverage business consultant. And I worked with many restaurants and food businesses in mid-coast between 2007-2009. People either like or hate miranda, with very few in between. the lovers will stand no negative remarks. The nay sayers seem to have some perspective. Good, eat there, someone has to. By the way, I don't put much credit with people who only have one or two posts under their belts. I assume most of the time they are shills.

                                                1. re: JMF

                                                  Perspective is what you have given us.. and thank you for that...

                                                  'Miranda, to put it plainly, is terrible.' Is not, however, about perspective.

                                                  The fact that you are or were a 'food and beverage business consultant' makes it official. All the more reason for you to be able to elaborate on what it is that you do not find appealing about Miranda. You should be better equipped then, than the rest of us plain old folk who only have a few posts under our belts, and are not food and beverage business consultants, to help us understand why we might not think to choose, on a 'regular old night in Midcoast ME' to float into an establishment like Cafe Miranda 'for a bite to eat in jeans'.

                                                  Thank you again for your comments about the food being, "poorly thought out, and executed" and "mussels with a broth so bitter and one dimensional that it screamed about how how bad it was".

                                                  This is a start, and may help to allay your assumptions.

                                                  Cafe Miranda
                                                  15 Oak St, Rockland, ME 04841

                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                    I don't think Miranda is one of those places where people either love it or hate it. Like I said in a previous post, I think it's one of those places where there are items on the menu that you can love or hate - that's different. It's hard to believe that you found all 8,000 dishes to be "poorly thought out".

                                                    1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                      Well, you've kind of hit upon what I think is one of Miranda's faults: 8,000 dishes. Too much stuff, too much going on, and then when you get down to ordering them, except for a shining few, it's mostly meh. I think it used to be better there. I also get annoyed by menus with cutesy/humorous names for things. But that's just me...

                                                      1. re: Shooley

                                                        Hey Shooley thanks for the additions to the thread!
                                                        Some folks enjoy very much the profusion presented there. Others, perhaps yourself, do not and are more interested, comfortable even, in the simple scenario. Center of plate, clearly identified etc etc.
                                                        To each his own. I think it is great to hear what people think about this. What I also believe is that at least the food there is real. So many places these days just rip open frozen boxes or bags.

                                                2. re: Beauly

                                                  Definitely looking forward to the Port Clyde Seafood Co @Harborview.

                                                  What about Sheperd's Pie in Rockport? Does this fit into this "casual" category or too $$/too crowded?

                                                  1. re: HDinCentralME

                                                    Yes Port Clyde in Thomaston should be great, as long as the food is ok, it is a wonderful place to sit for a lazy afternoon in the summer.

                                                    And of course what was I thinking!!?? Shepard's Pie!. Brian designed it as a pub.. Now it is very busy (as it is very popular) and they do not want to take reservations, and I would not stand there by the front door for much more that 5 minutes looking like a fool with no where to wait etc... but it is casual etc and it has a great buzz at the moment...

                                                    1. re: Beauly

                                                      Shepherd's Pie is fantastic...but I don't think I'd classify it as your typical casual pub atmosphere. I think the hipsters call this type of place a "gastro-pub". Not to dissuade you from going there though...it is a great place (unless you like draft beer - there's only 1 on tap).

                                                  2. re: Beauly

                                                    Update! On Port Clyde Seafod Co etc at x-Harbour View. I was at boat shop next door today and got a little scuttle but. Seems that I was mistaken about the lease/purchase/real estate situation. Unlike the last few operators, Scot (?) has actually purchased the real estate. Heavy duty work ensues on the dock, maybe even a clam shack planned out on the end, and the restaurant itself is going through a fairly extensive interior reno.
                                                    I only hope that the steamers are as fresh as they always were-- although how could then not, every turn of the tide brings the clam boats steaming back up the river on the incoming tide, low in the water with their fresh catch--- and that the deck is still the same on those lazy summer afternoons.

                                                    hand painted sigh out on the road is marked "Opening May 25-26" [my edit on the 25-26]

                                                    1. re: Beauly

                                                      Port Clyde Seafood as in ex-Dip Net?!!!! That is huge news! The Dip Net was a favorite but the new iteration in Camden just didn't do it for me. Now one thing they should work on is the great Bloody Mary's they used to have at the Harbourview.

                                                        1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                          Ahh haa.. yes it is. This is exciting.. again the sun shines in on that deck! Can't wait!

                                                          1. re: Beauly

                                                            Well the "Slipway" is open. What a scene there last night!! 10 seat bar was all but full, there were only a couple of tables inside not full and word was the deck had only one table left. The entry host area was a disaster! Folks coming in with resos, were met by folks waiting impatiently for seats, or a chance to talk to the host (bless her). Overhead an innkeeper saying "we must have a table.. this is the only night I have free until November and you will probably be closed by then"... And another.. "I want to make a reservation for tonight, for 5 people at say..... 7:15...Inside of course"
                                                            -"Well I am not sure I can offer you anything until 8:30, we are very busy"...
                                                            "oh no! We can't have 8:30... we need 7:15, and it can't be out on the deck"

                                                            And so we were able to pull two bar stools one from one end that was free and one from the other end and got a seat at the bar. It was still only about 6pm. As we sat and ordered, (rum and tonic served in a mason jar, red wine in a very nice glass) we noted the new/old barn board bar, back bar and general wall coverings, the bar-dining room divider is made of lobster-trap-beach-wood, and it all works. The floor, still cement, has been painted with what looks to be a super heavy duty floor finish and fits in perfectly as well.
                                                            Meanwhile the chaos continued at the door, (not the host-- she was cool and taking it in stride) but rather the people that were piling in and and were shocked to see a line, never mind a wait. A few of the Camden Cool, (way far afield) started in as well, shocked perhaps that a bar was full and it was not them that was making it full. "How could this be???? This bar is "happening" and full we are not even here???"

                                                            An order of monk balls and a cup of fish chowder arrived quickly and the chowder (milk based) was right and herbed nicely. The Monk (fish) fritters were tasty and came with a spicy remoulade which worked, (served in a paper tray). The Steamers arrived in a real bowl and were as fresh as they should be given that they were steamed about 65 feet from the river they ought to have come from, (and perhaps they did?). The haddock basket, arrived as promised in a paper basket, A nice-very nice- piece of haddock, lightly breaded and set on a bed of fries, (not handcut-frozen) with a $2 side of slaw served in a plastic container with a plastic lid. The tarter sauce, (good) also served in a plastic container. I did get a real metal fork. The fish was fresh, cooked perfectly and the fries ok.
                                                            Maybe the paper and plastic is left over from the Dip Net, maybe they have not realized there is plenty of water in Thomaston to do dishes, maybe paper and plastic makes all the difference $$ wise, I don't know, but that was my only complaint there last night... Give up the paper and plastic.. the Slipway is not that kind of place... or maybe it is that kind of place, and I am wrong.
                                                            So these are a few thoughts form our meal there last night!

                                                            Dip Net Restaurant
                                                            1 Cold Storage Rd, Tenants Harbor, ME 04860

                                                            1. re: Beauly

                                                              Thanks for the report, I look forward to going there. On a hot summer day hopefully...

                                                              1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                We return Thurs. night. So much food, so little time.