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Mar 10, 2009 10:39 AM

Off-season mid-coast ME

Looking for suggestions in the mid-coast area that would be OPEN for this weekend. Definitely need a seafood/lobster recommendation, and may do one more formal meal as well.

I am aware that nigh-on the entire state is closed up in March, but would appreciate any suggestions.

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  1. The Sea Basket in Wiscasset is supposed to reopen sometime in March. Outstanding seafood. Casual, order at the counter/call your number place. Impeccably clean...sweet potato fries, great chowder. They use convection fryers....incredibly crispy and virtually greaseless!

    Sea Basket
    303 Bath Rd, Wiscasset, ME

    16 Replies
    1. re: Science Chick

      Ever since the change in ownership, it (Sea Basket) just hasn't been the same. We used to stop there often, but after a few sub-par performances we have not returned. I believe that they changed some of their suppliers and now are serving a few frozen-fish options which just is not the same (and shouldn't happen in Maine of all places). Maybe it's just me though...

      Would second RMH.

      1. re: obraustin

        Wow.....bummer. We were there twice last year with the new ownership and thought things were just great. When were you last there?

        Another great option is Dolphin Chowder House outside of Brunswick in South Harpswell...oh wait, they don't open until May 1.

        1. re: obraustin

          I was there several times last season and didnt notice any change at all. I didnt even know it changed ownership. I love the place. I almost always get the same thing. Shrimp basket with onion rings, and perhaps a chowder. My DC always gets the fish/chips. All those things were excellent all last summer and for as long as i can remember

          1. re: hargau

            I didn't know there was a change in ownership either. Was last there a few months ago, but I always order the same thing--fried belly clams with nothing else. As always, they were well fried and excellent.
            Can't attest to any of the other food.

            1. re: mjoyous

              Yeah, we were a little nervous when we found out that the original owner had sold. But everything we had, from chowders, fried fish/clams, salads, sweet potato fries and lobster rolls were as tasty and wonderful as ever. I'm planning on going back in May..will definitely report!

              1. re: Science Chick

                Its one of the highlights of my summer!

                also im not sure what would be frozen, you can watch them breading the seafood right behind the counter.

                1. re: hargau

                  Well, they could use frozen fish, thaw it and then do the breading/frying. We, the customers, wouldn't be able to tell visually that the fish was thawed out. I recently met w/ the proprietor of a fish joint in southern Maine, and he ONLY used "FAS" stuff (Frozen At Sea). Fish, clams, everything. I saw him thawing it out in the walk-in fridge and everything.....yuck!! From his point of view, it was most cost-effective and made the minimum waste since he only had to thaw what he used. I tasted it and it was definitely lacking.

                  That being said, the fish/clams at Sea Basket tasted fresh as a daisy to me. My BF has a VERY sensitive palate, and he would know for sure if it wasn't on the up and up. Maybe they used frozen/prebreaded chicken strips or something? Obraustin.......this has raised alot of questions.....what did you have that was sub-par??

          2. re: obraustin

            I've been following this thread today and hearing from Hounds who's tastes and opinions I've long respected. I also have been a patron of Sea Basket for many , many years and was there several times last Spring, Summer and early Fall. Like SC, I was aware of the change in ownership and watchfull about their upholding the rep of one of the best seafooders on Rte.1 anywhere. The bottomline was they were/are just as good as always.

            "and shouldn't happen in Maine of all places"

            Which leads me to the question; where do you come by your information regarding their use of "some" frozen in lieu of fresh seafood? I don't mean to be confrontational but It's a serious accusation that needs some clarification.


            1. re: Harp00n

              I actually never said that they definitely changed fresh food to frozen. I think all of us have been to a restaurant where we felt we had frozen seafood/product, right? That's just how I felt on a couple of occasions. Perhaps my untrained palette was incorrect, or perhaps it was correct. I do not know for sure, nor have I purported to know for fact as you have implied (Harp00n). My experience is just that: my experience. I do feel as though the quality of the food has changed, thus, I have not returned. No ill will. No hard feelings. It's just not what it was to me previously (I would go there very often - any reason for celebration means Sea Basket time). The batter seems to be more noticeable to me. I always felt that previously, the batter did not impede the fresh-fish taste. I obviously felt different last year. The scallops were just not how I remembered them. And the lobster stew did not seem as incredible as before. Maybe I was on the look-out for something new and set myself up for disappointment. Who knows. I certainly could be wrong...

              Your bottom line is yours, Harp. Mine may be different. If you and others still enjoy it, fantastic. I personally have chosen to patronize another location for my fried seafood fix. I appreciate the way you presented your views and asked questions, Science Chick. It seemed to come from the "we all have different experiences" paradigm, rather than the confrontational one. That dialogue really makes chowhound threads a fantastic discourse :-) Maybe I'll have to give it another try (although I'm not admitting defeat just yet).

              1. re: obraustin

                Hi obraustin,
                Yes, we've all had frozen seafood at one time or another, besides fishsticks of course. In fact, one of my go-to places, The Chickenbone Saloon in Framingham, MA. serves flash-frozen Icelandic haddock and it is one of the best fish n' chips to be had in the area. As you say; your experience is yours and no one can deny that or should. I just get a little perturb when people, in general, state with a certain degree of sureness in their tone that restaurant X uses canned hash, frozen veggies, fish or whatever. That may not have been your intentions but thats how it struck me. I may be alone in interpeting your statement but I doubt it. In any event, it wasn't personal. It was an inquiry as to what drew you to that conclusion and knowing, as most did not, that the ownership had changed. Again, it wasn't meant as a personal attack and I'm sorry if it struck you that way..

                All the best,

                1. re: Harp00n

                  Harp and obraustin,
                  Got to agree with Harp on this one, your post doesn't only comment on your experience it states "now are serving a few frozen-fish options which just is not the same (and shouldn't happen in Maine of all places). " Them's fightin' words for a place with this rep. Seems like other posters aren't seeing or tasting your experience and that is the benefit of a board like this, to each their own. I don't think Harp was out of line to find out if you "knew" that they are serving frozen and in fact, many establishments on the coast to a flash frozen item for things like Haddock. Maybe it's worth another try all around??;)

                  1. re: jspear

                    Oh my! The upcoming season is sure to be an acid-test now!! Hold onto your bootstraps!

                  2. re: Harp00n

                    Not to revive any sense of tension after a nice ending to a thoughtful debate....and I mean this to all as purely food for thought....but FAS is actually considered by many to produce a high quality seafood product, as there is little time for quality to deteriorate on the vessel or in transport. Once thawed, the fish is virtually as fresh as the moment it was removed from the sea.

                    That said, I am a HUGE proponent of eating local seafood, and could not be happier to see that others seem to share this value. Instead of emphasizing the importance of fresh seafood, you might consider encouraging your favorite local restaurants to purchase very local seafood whenever possible. There are growing numbers of fishermen pursuing direct marketing opportunities to local restaurants and other customers--ensuring a better price for the fishermen and exceedingly fresh product to the customer.

                    1. re: mminmaine

                      Hi mminmaine,
                      I'd rather revive one of the 103 lobster roll debates on this board, kidding, just kidding!

                      As I commented north of here on this OP, the Icelandic haddock at the Chicken Bone Saloon is FAS or flash-frozen and virtually undetectable from fresh caught. The point, as you've appreciated in your second paragraph, is consumers being provided knowledge of the sources for their meat, fish, veggies & fruits and how they were "grown" and subsequently handled enroute to restaurants or to their own kitchen tables.


                      1. re: mminmaine

                        I could not have said it better. Oddly enough, fish will rot if not kept cold. I think that people who demand fish that is fres-from-the-hook should go fishing. Moreover, learn something about the process. (Would they rather have tremendous waste, even if THEIR fish could make it to THEIR restaurant table in time?) I'll take FAS that is local anytime.

            2. I think you'll find Damariscotta River Grill open, and very nice food, indeed: And if you're getting as far as Camden/Rockland, you'll find lots of places open: Lily Bistro in Camden, e.g.

              1. Conte's, Rockland. Italian seafood, extremely casual.

                1. Thanks, dzop for asking that -- I'll be up the following weekend.

                  Over Rockland/Camden way, I was wondering if Suzuki Sushi or Francine Bistro are open this time of year -- or whether anyone has other good suggestions (taking note of LIly Bistro and Conte's). Many thanks in advance.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: harrie

                    Primos and many others on many other mid-coast threads,

                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                      Primo is closed this time of year, no?

                      I checked out the threads before I posted here, and am trying to weed out the places that are closed in the off-season. Never mind, I'll just make some calls.

                      1. re: harrie

                        Sorry I misread, I've moved a bit further north, and don't frequent the Rockland area as much as I used to. Rockland Cafe for fishcakes and beans for breakfast.. Amalfie, 2 Pubs and I'm not sure what else. Mainegal, where are you?

                  2. Primo is closed until late April/May; but In Good Company, Lily Bistro, Suzuki Sushi, Francine, etc. are all open for business year-round. There is also a very casual place, called the Boathouse, on the water by the former MBNA complex in Rockland's South End, that does a very reasonable lobster dinner. Last time I was there it was $14.95. The other food at the place is decent: hamburgers, fried clams, steamers, mussels, and those are the items most worth ordering, in my experience. I've heard the more upscale food they serve is not so hot. But the view is spectacular. Decent beer and a few wine choices worth trying.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Shooley

                      Thanks, Shooley!

                      Passadumkeg, sorry I cranked out on you.