Off-season restaurants in Camden, ME?
I'm travelling to Camden, ME this weekend. Never been in off-season (or WAY-off-season) and only one brief visit many summers ago.
Any recommendations for a nice dinner on Saturday night? Traditional NE fare will do...seafood, etc. But not particular about the specific cuisine. Quality of food and service should be terrific, though. And a romantic setting would be nice.....
If you can get a reservation, drive 10 minutes down the road and try Primo's in Rockland. You can find their menus online. I've never had less than a perfect meal there. A you can now eat more casually (and comfortably, since the renovation) in the bar.
Call Francines Bistro in Camden today at around 4-4:30pm and make a reservation. 207-230-0083 They are the must go to dining destination. You need a reservation because they are always booked. Especially after recent write-ups in Saveur, Gourmet, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, etc. They are the best in the mid-coast area.
Natalies in Camden is also very good.
In Good Company is a fantastic wine bar and cafe with great food in Rockland.
Susuki sushi in Rockland is possibly the best sushi in the state.
I'm the one who initially recommended Primos. Sorry, I live in the Berkshires rather than mid-coast Maine, and didn't know when they closed.
I've been eating at Melissa Kelly's restaurants since she started cooking at the Old Chatham Sheepherding Inn. Was ecstatic when they moved to Rockland as I get up to Camden 2-3 times a year. I've eaten at Primos over a dozen times.
Yes, I found the first meal after the renovation just a little uneven, but having had so many superlative meals prior to that, I cut them some slack.
I've always dined with at least one companion and have never had anything approaching a bad meal there.
They had a heck of a tough time over last summer keeping food quality and service up to their old standards. It seemed by mid-late fall that they had things back under control, but I had a few meals in June, July, August that really soured me on the place. poorly cooked, even prepared incorrectly, burnt, etc. I hope that next season they can pull it all back together again. i really like a lot of what they are all about.
I'm thinking it's just renovation jitters — perhaps the extra seats & increased staff added a little disorganization, but I can't imagine Primo's isn't in top-form by now. They are too good.
Also, JMF I've read your other posts — ask Kerry at Cafe Miranda to make Beef Groche (sp?) for you — it will melt your face off but boy-o-boy, it's oh-so-good and it will make you a true believer.
"I have seen the light!!!"
Hartstone Inn serves a set fixed price menu by reservation, it's usually posted on line. Lovely inn, cozy dining room, excellent food and service.
You can have "nice" or you can have "traditional NE fare", but probably not both in the same place. I live in the area and here are my options:
1) Francine's. I was there in Dec. The menu is very limited (maybe 5 appatizers and 4 entrees), but everything is local and fresh.
2)Primo's is not open right now, but even when they are I find it too . . . not Maine for my tastes. If I had enjoyed Berkeley food that much I would have stayed there.
3)Natalie's has changed hands. I know the new site is beautiful, but I haven't eaten there since the Big Change
4)The restaurant in the place Natalie's used to be has glorified bar food. I would avoid it for dinner, but might go there for a beer (maybe).
5)Atlantica can be very good in the summer, but I don't know if they are open much (if at all) right now.
6)Hartstone can be good; it can be excellent; but the service was not up to par the last two times I ate there (cranky staff/owners are not good for business).
If you are willing to drive over to Rockland you might like Cafe Miranda. It's not fancy, but the food is fresh and excellent. Sit at the bar (not a drinking bar as much as an "overlooking the chef" bar). It's fun.
Wherever you go, have Maine shrimp. It's in season.
Hey, we transplant locals live here through the WAY-off season quite happily. You just gotta dig a little deeper, drive a little farther. I hope you found some good grub. There's always Wasses in a pinch.