9/09 Mid Coast Maine Reviews: Damariscotta, East Boothbay. Rockland, Camden
I just finished writing a long review of Bresca in Portland, so I'm going to write a less detailed quickie here.
East Boothbay General Store sandwiches: Turkey and Brie a gyp for $8.50. cranberry jelly, not compote, and smear of brie, not sliced like in past.
Damariscotta: Do NOT go to Paco's Tacos. It was sold by its competent chef 2 yrs ago and the food is now flavorless. Pork and Green Chile 'Stew' is a weak cloudy broth with flavorless dry pork cubes ,period. Burritos no flavor. Ditto guac.Why does an inexperienced Caucasian buy a restaurant like this and never even OPEN a Mexican cookbook?? No refried beans, no cilantro.The daughter yells at the father not to give away taco chips because "we're suPPOSED to be trying to make money here") ????!!!!! And btw, the taco chips were wicked stale.Oh nooo, Mr. Bill; avoid at all costs.
Damariscotta River Grille: If you order right, you'll be fine. We had 3 good meals but that was stretching it. The mistake that competent chefs make all too often is that they rely too much on Sugar or Cream . One of those components is found in almost every entree here.
The duck confit risotto is excellent when I put a hold on the dried apricots and cherries, and add bacon. But it is WICKED rich; they would be better to halve the amount of fontina and cream.
My Love liked the Thai red curry seafood chowder (lots of quality seafood)but I didn't care for the red curry paste they use. The cedar planked salmon is fine; the mashed pota. w/ cheese etc are very good. The Caesar salad has an unusually excellent dressing. The ribs are to be skipped.: (dry and too expensive.) Ditto dessert. Ditto the lobster cakes. Ingredients are fresh and quality. Portions are abundant; staff very friendly; an accomodating "Yes" kitchen. open til 9:30 (later than most places).Very popular with locals.
Waldoboro,Round Top Ice Cream:deserves it's "Best in ....." reputation. They'll give you as many tastes as you want, to try to narrow down the choices. The medium is CHEAP compared to Boston artisinal ice cream prices and the Medium cup is huge, close to 16 ou. I think , but they only let you get 2 flavors in that size. Favs: Pumpkin, Maple Walnut, Coffee Heathbar Crunch, Grape Nut.
Borealis Breads, Waldoboro: Good breads; sandwiches competent but nothing special and a bit skimpy on meats/cheeses.
Rockland, Rock City Coffee and Used Books: A unique and great place; one of a kind in this time of coffee/book chains. Strongest coffee I have EVER tasted!!!!!! Lots of storefront seating,cafe menu. A second home for many locals. Young hip friendly staff; good stuff.
Rockland, Rustica: Excellent Italian ; Penne w/ Homemade Hot Sausage(wonderfully tender and flavorful),Fennel, Spinach, Fresh lovely Marinara; Exc. Veal Marsala w/ good polenta. Chef is very skilled with garlic and the balancing of flavor components. Welcoming staff; Popular w/ locals.
Rockland, Sunfire Mexican Grille: Caucasian owners w/ some knowledge; excellent green chile verde sauce. Good roasted and shredded pork burritos, chicken mole burrito, v. good refried beans. Ample portions. V. friendly, popular w/ locals(so much so that they're doublling their space in this age of recession!).Lu and dinner.
Camden, Francine's: V. small, bustling ,very popular Bistro w/ justifiable Boston prices. Locally- sourced very small menu changes nightly. Unusually excellent house made bread. Exc. Steak frites and herbed lobster.The Pork belly chile verde taco app. was the evening's highlight.( and only Mex. dish on that night's menu.)
IMO, if you are a discerning foodie and Maine visitor, and are not into lobster lobster lobster and fried seafood, it is really a challenge to find very good not-standard-American dining experiences in the mid coast area I've mentioned. While some of you may want to blast me for my opinions, I hope I have helped other visitors. After all, the physical spaces and visual experiences are so extraordinary in Maine, it's a shame to detract from them with bad or mediocre food.
P.S. If you are leaving Me. by driving 95 south past Portland, you MUST detour 15 minutes and get Duck Fat's duck fat- fried French Fries, w/ garlic aioli (best garlic aioli I've had.) They reheat o.k. and are even good tepid, unrefrigerated, the next 2 days.(Wow, I guess no one will blast me for THAT remark ,eh?!!!!) Amazing; trust me!!!
write a quickie? Ho ho ho, 3 hours later......