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Tan Turtle, Northeast Harbor, ME

We saw some hound references to "extensive menu," but we didn't see any comments about the place itself, so we decided to try it. It was very good. The menu is very extensive, and the waitress told us that they actually have everything that is on the menu. It is a bar/pub type of place. Many seafood selections plus burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc. The salads looked extremely good, but we had salads earlier in the day, so we opted for pub type stuff. Sue had fried haddock with cole slaw & hush puppies. Paul had a half pound cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and bacon. Both came with "turtle chips," which were the weakest offering. We'd rather have commercially made kettle chips than the turtle chips, but we aren't big on chips anyway. We had Turtle ale which was also very good. The napkins are also worthy of comment: they are probably the best, most cloth like, paper napkins wee have seen in a long time. Good sturdy napkins are a real plus when eating finger food. We noticed that the napkins came from Sysco which we know causes red flags to go up with many hounds, but the food was really good, the service was good (although "working" was mentioned). They say their seafood is not frozen. We believe them. Prices seemed reasonable considering the area. We'll go back.

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  1. Is the Tan Turtle a fairly new place? I go up to NE Harbor every year, but missed going last year for the first time in ages. What shop did it replace?

    4 Replies
    1. re: hiddenboston

      I think is located where 151 used to be. 151 was actually two makeovers ago. The last restaurant that was in there was Asian-inspired but owned by the same person who had 151. She sold it to the folks who have Tan Turtle. I've not been Tan Turtle. I am disappointed that 151 is gone, but glad to hear the new place is pretty good.

      1. re: hiddenboston

        The waitress told us it is their second season. Although we visit Bar Harbor every May, we don't always get to NE Harbor, so we don't know what it replaced. If you are headed south on Main St. it is the last or next to last on the right.

        1. re: Boodles

          That's the same place. The address is 151.

          1. re: BikeToEat

            Oh, right, I remember the place that used to be there. I'll try to check Tan Turtle out over the coming days, as I'll be traveling around Maine for a bit.

      2. Had lunch there today and it was good. I had one of the lunch specials, salt/pepper fried calamari caesar salad ($10.95) and DC had the lobster roll ($18.95). Portions were huge! My salad was fresh, just the right amount of dressing, though there was too much parmesan cheese. The calamari was perfectly cooked and crispy. It could have had more salt & pepper flavor, but I just doused it with a bit of hot sauce and I was happy. The lobster roll was large and filled with mostly big chunks of claw meat, just a little mayo and thin layer of lettuce leaves. The roll was cold, soft and substantial. I would prefer if it had been warmed or toasted to give a bit of crunch. DC enjoyed it thoroughly. I agree that the turtle chips were not very good, a bit too greasy and soft. I'd prefer a crispier rendition.

        The menu is gigantic and there were many things that looked worth trying. We will also come back again to taste some new things.

        5 Replies
        1. re: BikeToEat

          We had lunch there on Sunday, and though we mainly had pub grub-type food, I can see the potential of this place. The beef vegetable soup was fresh and delicious, while the Philly cheesesteak was both huge and tasty (though the peppers in it seemed to be watery, making the whole sandwich a bit on the watery side). The chicken tenders were, well, chicken tenders, though I did think the marinade was excellent.

          I was in NE Harbor with a large group of people all weekend, and some of the others had more substantial dishes there, including a sirloin steak, a whole lobster, and a lobster roll. They couldn't stop raving about the place, so I'm thinking that this may end up being my go-to place in NE Harbor for any future trips I do there.

          1. re: hiddenboston

            Have you tried Bassa Cocino de Tapeo, a tapas place in NEH? I have not and was wondering if you had since you seem to frequent NEH often.

            Another option is Red Bird Provisions, not a big group kind of place, but I thought the one lunch I had there last year was delicious and well-prepared.

            1. re: BikeToEat

              The tapas bar and the provisions place are next to each other across from the Docksider, right? Never been to either place--we were going to take a look at them over the weekend, but ran out of time.

              I'm really glad that the Tan Turtle is in Northeast Harbor, because I've had some less-than-stellar meals at the Colonel's Restaurant and the Main Sail. I do like the Docksider, but don't want to go there for every meal (which is why we try to hit Bar Harbor at least once or twice whenever we're in town).

              1. re: hiddenboston

                I used to eat breakfast at the Colonel's a lot, more than 10 years ago, but stopped after I had hair in my homefries in three successive visits. I hadn't ever been their for dinner. We also stay in Bar Harbor now and not NEH so its an easy choice to go to Cafe This Way for breakfast instead.

                Bassa is in back of Sam Shaw's Jewelry Gallery. Red Bird Provisions probably backs up to Bassa on the hill there but faces the town dock.

        2. Just wanted to let you all know that the Tan Turtle burnt down this past Friday night (1/23/08). The cause is still unknown at this time. The front and upstairs were a loss, but the kitchen was not as badly burned. The owner plans to rebuild.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sundude90

            Tough luck for NE harbor this year! Have they rebuilt at all from the last fire in Northeast? It'a a special place.