I will be spending a month in Lewiston and am very eager to get in as many chowhound experiences as possible. I am also very interested in trying fiddleheads. Can anybody recommend where I can get them (either at a restaurant or a market and I could prepare them myself)? And is it too early for wild blueberries? I'll be here through the second week or Maine.
I have access to a car and will probably be making a few day trips - to Freeport, Bar Harbor, Ogunquit. But I have no problem driving an hour or two.
Already have planned: Red's, Morse's, Waterman's (for pie), Round Top Ice Cream, Simone's.
Any and all suggestions is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Too early for blueberries, but just in time for fiddleheads. They carry them at Hannaford when the are in season.
While in Lewiston, stop by Fuel on Lisbon street. We recently tried Fishbones and weren't impressed. Gritty's is good for local beer, but their food isn't all that great.
Agreed on Gritty's. I'd rather buy a six-pack and eat at home than go there. You want great local beer AND decent food, try Sea Dog (I really like the one in Camden, but Topsham or South Portland are good too and much closer) or The Great Lost Bear in Portland, where there are a gazillion brews on tap. DaVinci's or Espo's in Lewiston are acceptable Italian; Graziano's in Lisbon Falls isn't bad either, and the boxing memorabilia on the walls is fun to look at while you're waiting for your food!
There are equally good reasons for ignoring recommendations on food boards as there are to follow them. Sea Dog inhabited the spot now occupied by Saltwater Grille a few years ago in South Portland. The food at Great Lost Bear is perfect if you are up for something that goes with all that beer - Dave has been doing it right for 20+ years. Decide for yourself.
And that 3lb lobster in Bar Harbor? That's from Massachussets. The state of maine has a maximum legal size way under that. Not that it means it was bad, I'm just sayin' is all.
A few years ago.... Saltwater Grille has been there since 2001 at the very least. Check their website. What sense does it make to mention a place that hasn't existed in 7 years. Might as well recommend Stone Coast downtown.
The food at GLB is no different than any low- level sports bar. Even Rivalries does it better. Go for the beer, not the food.
The Great Lost Bear is a good place to find a lot of different brews under one roof, including some really local stuff. They also have 'sampler' glasses, if that's your thing and you want to taste a bunch of beers without going broke or getting sick. Haute cuisine? No. But not uniformly 'horrific' either. GLB wouldn't be my first choice if I weren't drinking beer. That said, the food is ample, inexpensive, and a perfectly acceptable accompaniment to the 'main course' flowing from the taps.
If that sounds good to you, try it! If you prefer a quarter-sized piece of meat on a plate with two leaves of baby greens and a squirt of sauce, go somewhere else.
Shows how long it's been since I got up to Camden. Too bad...I thoroughly enjoyed the food and loved the beer. And what's with the Fred Forsley/Shipyard slam? I don't care if the place was owned by Jesus Christ or Charlie Manson. I like most of the Sea Dog brews I've had. But then, I'm not a beer snob. If I had a tasty brew and the label said 'Miller' I still had a tasty brew!
re: three of us
It's not the Sea Witch, its the Sea Basket and its on Route One, just before you get into downtown Wiscasset (just past Wiscasset Ford, on the left if you are east bound). The Sea Basket serves fish chowder against which all others are measured. Eat some there or bring some home. Or both.
Red's is the Hard Rock Cafe of Maine roadside foodstands. They are famous for their lobster rolls, but more than that they are really famous for simply being famous. That rubs some people the wrong way and there has been an inevitable backlast against their popularity. I like to say that they don't have magic at Red's, but they do have a great location and an endless supply of fresh lobster and a proven ability to consistently deliver a quality product.
re: Keefer Lucas
Yes, Red's is a bit too well known, but I love the lobster rolls and the sides are very good. Location can't be beat, so standing there for 40 minutes is pleasant on a sunny day. I enjoy other places, like Harraseeket, but Red's is the best roll I've had in a while, as a Route-1 tourist.
I do always wonder if the place across the street is any good - the one that everyone who can't stand waiting in line goes to..
Sarah's is the restaurant across the street. Have heard mixed reviews from friends, but we weren't impressed on all levels when we went there. Le Garage (around the corner from Sarah's) has fantastic food and views, and great service.
We have eaten at The Senator on I-95 in Augusta a few times (which is closer to Lewiston than Wiscasset is, I believe). While it isn't trendy or blowaway, we find it pleasant and reliable with good food that is well prepared. You won't leave hungry from either Le Garage or The Senator.
Actually, grant.cook is probably referring to Sprague's, the other lobster shack. It's right on a dock over the river. Haven't been, but others have told me it's very good--rolls jampacked with the meat of a full lobster.
Sarah's is a great place to take kids--very family oriented. And yes, Le Garage is a great find for those wanting a sit-down meal with a view. I like that it has meals in all sizes, all prices.
Also wondering if anybody knows of a Somalian restaurant in Lewiston? I know there is a huge Somalian population so I imagine there must be a place to get some food. But I haven't been able to track one down yet. Any thoughts?
There is a popular but good lobster pound on the road from Ellsworth over onto Mt. Desert Island. Harraseeket Lobster in South Freeport is nice..... I never found something really authentic/fun in Bar Harbor - I think you might have better luck in some of the smaller towns on the island (Winter Harbor??) but a local would have to add info here..
If in the Ellsworth area, Cleonice has a good tapas menu. Riverside Cafe is good for breakfast. Likewise, 3 Cats in Bar Harbor has an awesome breakfast. If in need of quick comfort food and a great beer selection, try Finelli's Pizza in Ellsworth. Voted best in state. And remember there is more to Maine than its lobster!
Muscongus Bay Lobster Pound in Round Pond opens May 1 - superb food, mostly BYOB. GREAT oysters.
I was going to suggest the Lobster Shack at Two Lights - fried seafood is not so great, but the lobster roll and lobster stew are excellent. Great views as well.
Absolutely do not miss 555 in Portland.
You're missing some of the truly great options right in Lewiston! Val's root beer is right on Sabattus Street, and Dairy Joy is true to its name. For the best breakfast around, take a Sunday drive out to Nezinscot Farm in Turner. Beautiful cheeses and they'll probably ask you to hold the baby or something while they fix your egg sandwich...but it will be well worth it!
Skip all the pub food...it's lousy. Pick up a six pack and head to the closest beach. If you must have a lobster roll, one of the best is at Five Islands, but everyone will tell you something different so just try them all. For another great seafood destination, try the Dolphin Marina at Basin Point in Harpswell. Do not miss the fish chowder, which comes with a steaming hot blueberry muffin of perfection. I dream of this meal all winter long.
I found Nezinscot Farm through a mention in Brook Dojny's "Dishing Up Maine" cookbook. I actually rode out there from Belgrade to pick up some of their organic steak and was very surprised to discover they also served food. The breakfast looked great and I have been meaning to get back out there and try it. Thanks for the reminder.
Come to the Bath, Brunswick area. Dinner at Back St Bistro, great wines, good wait staff also the Great Impasta with garlic knots to start. The Sea Dog across the bridge in Topsham is a great pub place. All of these in Brunswick. Then travel a little further north to bath for Beal St for Barbecue, Mae's for breakfast, pie or a quiet dinner and the Kenebec tavern for more pub food. MaryEllen Z's is often neglected but good crafted food. there are a couple of new cookie places in Brunswick that sound delicious check them out in DownEast, the latest edition also has some great food recommendations. Lastly, get a lunch to go and travel down to the end of 209 to Popham Beach for a walk on the best beach in NE, go at low tide and walk out to fox island.
Urggg. Lewiston. I am really sorry for you. Get in that car and drive out of town. Seriously. If all else fails there used to be a place called Roys-Sports bar in Auburn (Just across the bridge). They had great hamburgers, but can't vouch if they are still there, because once you are able to escape Lewiston, you never want to go back. (Which I haven't)..
Portland is your better bet, even Freeport.
I think Billy's Chowder House in Wells (near Ogunquit) has some of the best clam chowder I have ever had. The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport has good lobster rolls. Also, I don't know if you have access to Down East magazine, but the May issue has an interesting article where Maine chefs suggest their favorite places to eat. I enjoyed it because there are a number of places that I had not heard of before. It might be a good resource for you.
And about Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island in general - I took a day trip there at the end of May last year and hardly any of the restaurants were open, especially in the smaller towns/villages surrounding Bar Harbor. We ended up eating at McKay's Public House in Bar Harbor which, after a morning of hiking followed by two hours of driving around the island looking for someplace to eat, was fine with me.
Ruth and Whimpy's on Rt. 1, in Hancock, 5 mi north of Ellsworth is open. I t has the cheapest lobster around, has great pies, it where the locals go and is kind of a hoot. Roadside, no views.
One time we were heading out to camp in July and I suddenly remembered it was our wedding anniversary! I pulled into Ruth and Whimpy's, told my wife I needed the bathroom, found Ruth in the kitchen, told her what was going on, she fixed me up w/ a couple of large lobsters, a few pounds of steamers, a stick of butter, potato salad, coleslaw and threw in a whole blueberry pie. I came back to the car laden w/ food. My wife thought it was a great surprise. Whew. Another time I took a group of Japanese students for a "hands -on" English lesson on how to order seafood and eat lobster in English. As one can tell, I'm kinda fond of the place. Great red neck decor too.
Try a trip inland towards Moosehead Lake.On your way, stop in Monson and eat at the Spring Creek Barbeque....in my opinion, one of the nest there is. It is a small place, run by nice people. Bring your own drinks, sit on the porch and watch the world go by......From Lewiston, about 2 hours. Continue on up to Greenville and circumnavigate the lake on the Golden Road. Stop in Kokadjo (population: not many), grab some supplies, and stop at any number of remote places to enjoy the forest. A great trip!
On the way home, stop at the bakery in Abbot for some killer pastry.
So thank you to everybody who gave me suggestions and ideas. I am back from my amazing month in Lewiston and my adventures around the southeastern part of Maine. And I felt it is my duty to report back on my finds. So here is a run-down of the places I explored and my thoughts on them. It's a bit lengthy and I'd love to hear your reactions. Hope this will help someone else who is looking for some ideas in the state that proclaims itself: "The Way Life Should Be." And after a month visiting it, I have to tend to agree. Enjoy!
We had some amazing lobster and I decided to start a mini-mission on finding the best in the state. We were impeded by it being a little too early in the season, so I regretfully missed Waterman's in South Thomaston. It does seem to hold true that just about anywhere in Maine will make great lobster, since it is so fresh and is prepared easily in sea water. We even prepared some great ones ourselves - and they're much cheaper live from the grocery story or local fishery. Here are the places that prepared them for us:
SEA BASKET in Wiscassett. We visited our favorite seafood shack three times on our time there. The lobster roll is very generous and the touch mayo brings out the flavor of the succulent and sweet meat. The stand-out here is the chowder and stews. The haddock chowder is chockful of fish and has an amazing flavor - the best I had in the whole state. They also have great fried seafood.
RED'S EATS in Wiscassett is a few miles down from Sea Basket and is widely touted as the best lobster roll in the state. It certainly is the biggest and without any mayo, it's the purest. Fresh lobster, but I actually missed a little bit of the mayo (which is strange because I don't generally like mayo). I think just the right amount makes a lobster roll stand out from just plain lobster meat on a bread roll. I realized the lines are so long because it almost seems a one-person operation. The woman was incredibly sweet and I was amazed at how much work she did and how quick she was. The view is nice and I'm glad I went, but we slightly preferred The Sea Basket.
HARRASEEKET LUNCH & LOBSTER in Freeport is a true lobster pound right on the water. The atmosphere is great and it gets quite crowded during season (we were there on an overcast day and there was already a line). The fried clams were incredible and the lobster rolls were also very good - right up there with the best - but not nearly as big as Red's. But this place wins because of the location.
SHAW'S LOBSTER in New Harbor is cool because you can actually watch the lobstermen on the shore throwing the freshly caught critters in a bucket. And then you go upstairs and eat the meat that was just in the water. The lobster rolls are on the smaller size, but had a great flavor with a touch of mayo. The crab roll was less flavorful, but nice and light. The rolls were also delicious.
MORSE'S LOBSTER in Brunswick. The location in Harpswell seems to be closed for this season. This is a drive-in lobster shack where you can sit in your car and eat lobster. My friend had a whole lobster dinner, which was a bit overpriced, but good fresh lobster. My lobster roll was the smallest yet.
I'm a huge ice cream connosieur so I was eager to see how it is down up in New England. These are all home-made, but some had more original flavors and better textures than others:
ROUND TOP in Damariscotta is one of the best in the state. The ice cream is rich and flavorful, with great flavors. The blueberry was my favorite. Also, great Coffee Heath Bar, Coconut, Ginger, etc. All were really great. The only problem was the portions are too large - I had to throw out some of this delicious ice cream.
HATTIE'S in Brunswick serves Maple's ice cream and gelato out of Portland. The shop is a bit hidden behind the big gray church. They were very friendly and I gushed over the softness and flavor of my Chai gingersnap. They gave modest portions and I almost went back in for a second.
JOHN'S ICE CREAM in Liberty is one the side of the road along Route 3 in the middle of nowhere. John is a cheery little man who was helpful. His ice creams are chunky with generous flavor, but the ice cream itself didn't have as much flavor as the fill-ins. The ginger was amazing, but the strawberry rhubarb was a little frozen and disappointing.
BEN AND BILL'S in Bar Harbor. I had to try their legendary lobster ice cream - that's right up my alley. It was pretty good at first - it had a nice buttery flavors and generous lobster chunks. The more I ate though, the reality set in and I was a little disturbed by the frozen lobster chunks and wondered how often they make a fresh batch. The rest of the ice cream had a great consistency but I found they complicated their inventive flavors with loads of rich hot fudge. It was good, but I could only take so much of it.
GIFFORD'S, both in the supermarkets and at stands around Maine, is really great ice cream. I especially love their amazing chocolate pieces in all their track ice cream. The ice cream itself is creamy and soft, but those add-ins are the best part.
TUBBY'S in Wayne is really awesome. Tubby is a sweet man who is really excited about his ice cream. He told us we should try a few flavors and then order something else to get the full range of tastes. When I ordered a cinnamon flavor he offered me to taste it but said I should order something else because he wasn't too proud of this particular batch. The samples come in little mini-cones and he was right. The batch was a bit too icy. The flavor I did get was a maple ice cream with granola. It was sweet, rich, and creamy. The stand also has some nice picnic type chairs facing a lake. It was a great place to go and to bring the kids (if I had them!)
TOOT'S in Yarmouth is adorable. It's on a farm so you can actually hear the cow mooing as you order their ice cream. The stand is also in the form of a train, so there are plenty of places for the kids to play. The ice cream itself was the best i had in Maine, by just a smidge. They had a few interesting flavors (like a surprisingly good licorice) and lots of candy inspired concoctions. They coffee break was fresh and silky coffee ice cream with Twix pieces. Yummy! I wanted to turn around for seconds.
HODGMAN'S in New Gloucester was our only custard outing. We went on Mother's Day which was opening day and seems everybody in Maine knew because the place was hopping. The custard was great - I got a blackberry raspberry flavor with chocolate shell. Really old-fashioned and delicious. It was nice to walk around and watch the families all enjoying the sweet custard.
I didn't mean to eat so much pie, but when in Rome (or in this case, Maine)... There's nothing like a fresh blueberry or strawberry rhubarb pie. Mmm, I'm craving that doughy crust right now:
PIE IN THE SKY in Cap Neddick was awesome. It's a little house and as soon as you get out of the car, the sweet aroma of fresh baked pies fills your soul. The woman who runs it is very sweet and helpful and has a small selection of freshly made pies. We took slices of blueberry, apple, and chocolate. They were amazing. And we returned again for a whole jumbleberry pie. Her hours are a little funky, so call ahead.
ISAMAX in Gardiner is more an outlet store for whoopee pies that Oprah declared the best. These are the same ones they sell in the local grocery stores. The flavors seemed interesting, but I was disappointed to learn that the flavor is in the bread while the cream remains a vanilla flavor. We got a regular one and a gingerbread one. They were good, but lacked that homemade taste that I love about whoopee pies.
MOODY'S DINER in Waldoboro is famous and very kitschy with lots of personality. We didn't eat there, but we got a fantastic blueberry pie and a strawberry rhubarb pie. They held up pretty well and tasted great at home warmed up. Probably the best I had.
I had some high expectations for beer, but low expectation for the food at these pubs:
SEA DOG BREWERY in Topsham was cute and right on the river. The pale ale was pretty good and I had a decent lobster roll. They also had nice fried calamari. This place is mainly for the beer and the atmosphere. And I could sense it gets touristy in the summer months.
GRITTY'S in Auburn is just one branch in this locally famous pub. The beers are pretty good and varied. The food is typical pub fare - I did enjoy the buffalo burger and they have incredible sweet potato fries. But I'd stay away from any fish or entree choices.
KING EIDER'S PUB in Damariscotta. We had to go twice because the first time we went for their famous Pemaquid oysters, they had run out. They were also out of cucumbers for the martini. This was a Saturday night too!!! Looking past that, we had pretty filling meals. The crab cakes are self-proclaimed to be the best in New England, which is kind of pushing it, but they were very good. Very meaty and with less breading than usual. The brie appetizer was pretty soupy and strangely served with pineapple and kiwi! The BBQ salmon was very good, the seafood pot pie was rich and flavorful, and the fisherman's stew was tasty but had too much tomato. The lemon cake was also delicious, but a not quite tart enough for my tastes. We finally did return for the oysters, which were fantastic! And we had the pub pretzels, which were dark in color and a little wheatier than expected, but they were warm and filling. A nice booze soaker that isn't fried and greasy!
THE LIBERAL CUP in Halowell is a cool, easy-going pub with great beers, good food, and live music. Had a great chicken quesadilla appetizer, very hearty beer cheese soup, and a unique Greek salad, which had pine nuts. I liked the vibe and the food was tasty and well-prepared.
RED HOOK BREWERY in Portsmouth, NH. We didn't actually eat here, but we took the tour of the brewery, which was interesting and extensive. And we got extremely generous tastings of all of their brews. It's a good thing I wasn't driving. I really enjoyed their barley wine.
There are so many friendly little food shops in this area. Everybody was very friendly and eager to help and answer questions. Here were some highlights:
WHEN PIGS FLY in Freeport is a bread shop with unique options. They only sell by the loaf but offer a sample of any bread you'd like to taste. The kalamata olive was a stand-out and I loved their unique blueberry and lemonade loaf. They also have delicious bread puddings. Supposedly they sell in some Whole Foods on the east coast, so keep an eye out.
MCKEAN & CHARLES in Waldoboro is a shop for wine and snacks. The service is friendly and they do have a great wine and beer selection. I was most excited by their amazing hummus. They only had a small amount left to sell us, but I was eager to taste it. It was really great.
COLD RIVER VODKA in Freeport offers a free tour of their little vodka distillery. It was interesting and pretty intimate. I've been to other distilleries, but this is the smallest with all man-power. We learned a bit about the process but unfortunately didn't get to taste their potato vodka (due to a Maine law). We did buy a bottle and enjoyed it later. I'm not a vodka fan, but this was creamy, light, and flavorful. I await for when they distribute in NY.
MORSE'S SAUERKRAUT in Waldoboro is a friendly shop attached to a German restaurant. The employees were incredibly friendly and inviting. I had nothing to do with a pound of sauerkraut so we bought some tangy and sour Mustard Pickles. They were intense, but enjoyable.
BLACK SHEEP WINE AND CHEESE SHOP in Harpswell is an off the road little house. They have a great wine and cheese selection (although they were low on cheese the day we were there). The couple that worked there were very friendly and we shared a nice little chat. Good prices and nice selection.
There does seem to be a lack of Lewiston recommendations on chowhound. It does seem to be the least varied restaurant area of Maine, but there are still decent places to eat:
FUEL in Lewiston is one of two new hip restaurants that are trying to build up the nightlife in downtown Lewiston. I made two visits. On the first, we did the tasting menu of 4 courses. Some were better than others - we did have a perfectly cooked scallop with a carrot ginger puree. The hanger steak was well-cooked but a bit under-seasoned and predictable with a red wine reduction. The coffee creme brulee however was stellar. On the second visit, I ate a bit lighter, having the frog leg appetizer and a taste of the cedar plank salmon with pesto sauce. Everything was cooked perfectly The wine list is impressive and affordable and I love the amuse bouche. Service was very attentive yet a little slow-paced. But this is a great, sophisticated culinary choice in town.
FISHBONE'S is the other big restaurant in Lewiston and I'm ashamed to say I never made it there. The other people in the show commented that it was quite good and they have a great brunch.
HOLLY'S DELI in Auburn seems to double as a wine bar, but we always just took out sandwiches and salads. And evidently their coffee is very good. The first sandwich, which was a special Cajun Chicken panini was very good. They were out of their famous chicken curry. I visited twice more for a salad and another sandwich. The quality was inconsistent. The last sandwich I got, the Chicken Pesto was sort of dry and lacked much flavor. But I like the people there and hope you catch them on a good food day.
SIMONE'S in Lewiston is a local institution. They're celebrating their 100th year and are known for their "red" dogs either steamed or grilled. i wasn't terribly impressed. I don't get the point of the red dye... it didn't add any flavor and sort of freaked me out. The dog itself was a bit mushy with not much crunch. The toasted and buttered bun was amazing and I finished all of that.
ITALIAN BAKERY in Lewiston has great chicken pot pies on Thursdays and amazing pastries. They provided all the desserts for the show I was in and they were all stellar. They also have nice Italian sandwiches - very big. This is strictly a take-out place since there are no tables.
ESPO'S in Lewiston is adequate Italian food. The portions are huge and the prices are reasonable, but nothing amazing here. The caprese salad was adequate but not the freshest I've had.
CHICK-A-DEE has a location in both Lewiston and Auburn. The clams in crumbs were still quite greasy and fine, but not as meaty as they should have been. The lobster roll was adequate enough. The stand-out were the onion rings.
NOTHING BUT THE BLUES in Lewiston is a true college hang-out. The vibe is very laid back and the interesting "healthy" options make me think of a college town. The butternut spice soup was a little bland with slight overwhelming spicy moments. The curried chicken salad however was very tasty and fresh. A good option in the Bates college area.
PAT'S PIZZA in Auburn is another Maine chain (I like the sound of that!) This was a thin crust pizza and I quite enjoyed the crust. The pizza itself was adequate enough, but being used to NY pizza, I didn't expect much. But I'd order it again.
WILLY BEAN'S in Lewiston is a new Starbucks-type coffee house. Their sandwiches are nothing special, but they have good coffee and a hip vibe. My big complaint was at how early they closed. That kind of goes wit the whole town of Lewiston, but if they're trying to build up downtown, they need to push those hours.
We really spent all of our free time traveling around the coast searching for some amazing culinary experiences. These were some other restaurants that we tried:
MAINE 111 in Brunswick for brunch. Service was friendly but a bit slow and overwhelmed. It's a very cute little homey place and since I wasn't in a rush, I had a pleasant time. The Maine frittata with carmelized onions dill, and crabmeat was good, but I felt the flavors could have been a bit more pronounced. However, the bread and cinnamon butter was great. I wish I was stil around to give this place another chance or check out their dinner.
A-1 DINER in Gardiner (pronounced Gahd-ner) is a really cute little box car diner. The offerings were unique and ranged from typical diner grub to ethnic and healthy options. We chose a special Greek salad with fried calamari which was good, but nothing spectacular and the organic burger (we ordered it medium and it came out pretty close to well done) had no taste and the gouda cheese got lost in the bun with the carmelized onions. I didn't even finish it. I'd come back here to try something else, but was underwhelmed by the food but excited by the location.
NEZINSCOT FARMS in Turner is a true farm with a little food stores attached. I hear their breakfast is a bit disappointing - their baking skills are lacking. But we had some sandwiches which were good. I smelled a just roasted pork and asked them to put it on some bread for me. It was really tasty and well-cooked, but a bit fatty. It's fun to walk around the farm and look at all their local foodstuffs.
COLE FARMS in Gray was certainly a must-see. I just wish I hadn't eaten there. This is where all the locals come for down home cooking. I liked the diner-esque ambience, but the food was pretty bad. the fish and chips were decent, but we also ordered a clam cake that almost made me sick. We wanted the crab roll but they had run out of crab meat. Maybe we ordered the wrong things. We also had our first experience with Indian pudding, which was an inedible mess of molasses glop. We did take home a strawberry rhubarb pie which made up for the greasy food.
BROAD ARROW TAVERN in Freeport is another place we had to visit twice. The first was on a Sunday when they don't serve their famous buffet. I liked the design of the place with taxidermy aligning the walls. It was very cozy. Their famous lobster stew was rich and delicious, but seemed more like a chowder and was over priced. The real draw is the buffet which is served Mon-Sat. It is really varied with some delicious salads, fried haddock, great pizza, amazing london broil, and an awesome truffle and cream pasta. The dessert choices were also extensive and we ended up with one of each on our table - the strawberry rhubarb pie and grand mariner cheesecakes were both incredible. A great deal at $16.95 and there is something for everyone.
ATLANTICA in Camden for dinner was very nice and beautiful on the harbor. Our server was clearly new, but tried hard and the sweet owner stepped in to help out once in a while. The Damariscotta oysteres were great, we had a nice golden beet salad, and delicious scallops with green curry and a carrot pancake. The only mishap with the food was the kobe burger. The waitress didn't ask for a temperature and we assumed the chef would cook it to his liking. I was shocked to discover that it came out well-done. The meat was dry and flavorless and you could barely taste the tiny bit of gruyere hidden somewhere in there. But besides that I was impressed with the restaurant and enjoyed the nice service.
HAVANA in Bar Harbor is a sophisticated but casual restaurant with lots of flavor. The mojitos were a bit lacking, but the food made up for it. The sugar cane skewered pork with cinnamon and vanilla spice was tender and flavorful. The stuffed summer squash wrapped in Spanish ham had a nice variety of flavors and textures The spicy salmon ceviche salad was my least favorite of our choices. But I loved the atmosphere and enjoyed the experience.
DUCKFAT in Portland was a great little bistro. They're famous for frying their french fries in duck fat. I've had lard fried fries before which were greasy and cloying, but these were light and flavorful. The dipping sauces were decent, but I felt they could have used stronger flavors (the curry mayo was lacking much curry) Also, the duck confit panini with golden raisins was very flavorful and hearty. The special soup was a parsnip soup with fried leeks which was delicious, but had only a subtle parsnip flavor. They also make their own sodas and I found the Strawberry Hysop & Anise amazing - refreshing and delicious!
TWO CATS in Bar Harbor was our second choice (Cafe This Way hadn't opened for the season yet), but turned out to be a success. There was a slight order snafu, but it was quickly fixed. The omlette was the fluffiest I've had in a long while and the stuffing of smoked trout, horseradish cream, red onions, and white cheddar was a true "gut-bomb" but worth it. The homemade biscuits with strawberry butter was fantastic and their fresh squeezed orange juice brought me back to Florida. We also shared a great blueberry pancake. The vibe was very hippie and low-key. I enjoyed the service and didn't even mind the cats walking around the dining room. I felt like I was the guest in somebody's house. It was great.
GALYN'S in Bar Harbor was quite good in another casual, but sophisticated atmosphere. The crab cake was incredibly tasty, the salmon and spinach salad was big except for the salmon itself, and the steamers were fresh and delicious. The only disappointment was the overly rich and barren lobster chowder. But this is a great lunch place with fresh thoughtful meals.
AZURE CAFE in Freeport had some of the best fried calamari I have ever had. It alone is worth the trip. The squid is lightly breaded and flash fried - it was still chewy and mixed with red onions. It was unique and delicious. They also had a delicious blueberry glazed salmon with perfectly charred asparagus. I got the sense that they do all their dishes just perfectly. A great restaurant!
SLATE'S BAKERY in Halowell. Good pastries, but strangely over-priced. The blueberry cream cheese bar worked as both breakfast and dessert. The espresso chocolate chip cookie wasn't as great as it sounded or looked. The dough was not terribly soft and the espresso flavor sort of lingered. Didn't get to try the attached restaurant.
THE WATERFRONT in Camden seemed a bit touristy, but was sort of low key the day we were there. Nice views on the harbor. Service was pleasant. The chowder was mediocre, but the lobster crepe was surprisingly generous with the meat and was delicious. We couldn't finish it because there was too much food, but we did pick out the lobster meat in a cream sauce.
CONUNDRUM in South Freeport is a wine bar with some great food. It's a great hang-out which is open later than most places in the state. It's sort of out of the way and unknown - although you can't miss it right next to the big Indian. Their wine selection is impressively diverse and affordable. The food is also inventive. Awesome crab cakes, a nice cheese platter, an interesting smoked salmon sampler, and a strange but tasty BBQ pulled pork salad. We enjoyed the ambience and the service was good although our waiter didn't seem terribly knowledgeable on the wine. But a great hang-out place in Maine.
BOB'S CLAM HUT in Kittery was a bit of a let-down. The fried clams were pretty tasty, but the portions were small and pretty expensive. It was early in the season, so maybe things change. But these were far from the best clams we had in our trip.
We also made a day trip to this quaint little friendly town on the border of New Hampshire and Maine. We also made more than one stop at those government liquor stores.
THE FRIENDLY TOAST is ultra-hip and kitschy. But surprisingly the interesting and inventive food didn't get lost in the design. We had the kitchen sink quesadilla, which is exactly what it sounds like. It didn't make sense, but the combination of sweet potato fries, spinach, pistachios, cheese, a side of mango sour cream, and two fried jumbo shrimp worked very well. As bizarre as it was, it was quite delicious. We also had a salad with smoked salmon and goat cheesy tossed in a pomegranate pecan dressing. The combinations were gimmicky, but tasted good. Wish we were around fro their acclaimed breakfast.
ANNABELLE'S ICE CREAM had a nice location and selection. But the ice cream had too much stuff in it for my taste. I just wanted a pure interesting flavor, but everything was a variation of maple or chocolate with pecans, almonds, marshmallows, etc. But hey, it's ice cream - how could it be bad??
Did not get to as many food places as Sweeney, but had a recent Maine adventure and wanted to add feedback. I loved Sweeney's long post. I have to go back and check on pie suggestions.
Spent two weeks at Harpswell, which is right next to Brunswick, also visiting in and around Lewiston. Beautiful views. Lilacs and kayaks. Great food.
Lewiston has a terrific bakery, Grants, which makes wonderful cookies and pies. Had breakfast at the Nezincot Farm, in nearby Gray, and brought home bread and delicious goat cheese. Warm delicious scones. We had lots of fun visiting chickens and baby goats with nephews. Magical.
Also, had dinner at Dolphin Marina in Harpswell. It was delicious, great lobster and the blueberry muffins are worth a drive from PA! Didn't have enough blueberries so also got some of their blueberry pie.
Several dinners at Fatboy's, an old time drive up in Brunswick, which was delicious and fun. Crowded with locals.
In Cook's Corner, next to Brunswick there is a large bookstore/cafe called Bookland. This was so good, as well -- everything homemade, and a crowd of locals. Chewy molasses ginger cookies -- superb.
Near Bath, in Georgetown, there is an upscale beautiful restaurant called Robinhood Free Meeting House. (Mentioned here on CH often.) The setting and the service were excellent, and the food was well crafted. Famous warm biscuits.
Lots of great restaurants in Portland, one the kids (and I) like a lot is Flatbreads.
And finally, there is a lobster, outdoor picnic table place in Cundy's Harbor -- Holbrook's -- which is near Brunswick and Harpswell. This was so pretty and the food was delicious. Harbor full of lobster boats. I hope that everyone goes there, because I want them to stay in business and it was my favorite. Like a picture postcard of Maine.
Red's actually has mayo and butter for their lobster roll's, it just comes as a side in a little cup. I'm suprised they didn't ask if you wanted any?
Also, if you liked Gifford's ice cream, they have a stand on 11/121, (on the Auburn side of the river), a little west of where rte 4 splits off and heads south. Would have been an easy drive for you if you were staying in/near Lewiston.
Red's did offer drawn butter on the side - I forgot to mention that. It was a nice change of pace and I liked the simplicity of their rolls. But I think the touch of mayo in Sea Basket's brought out a stronger flavor.
And we did go to the Gifford's in Auburn. And bought some in the local Hannaford's. We couldn't get enough of that! We really liked their Maine Birch Bark with white chocolate chips and cashews. Yum!
I must question your description of yourself as an ice cream "connosieur" if you think Gifford's is good ice cream. Just read the ingredients sometime. They include all-time favorites like corn syrup, guar gum, xanthum gum, polysorbate 60, hydrogenated oils, and artificial coloring and flavoring, none of which should ever appear in good quality ice cream.
I did not see the ingredients in Gifford's, but must admit I liked the taste. I agree - my favorites would be the ice cream stands right on the farm that are homemade and all natural. But I couldn't help enjoying Gifford's - even if it is loaded with chemicals. The product is good - those chocolate pieces are addicting (maybe because of the chemicals!)
In Bar Harbor go to the Bluenose Inn and check out their piano bar-the beef tenderloin sandwich is awesome. Casual no need to dress up. Great place to sit and have a drink and great food.