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Sep 9, 2009 10:27 AM

Report: York-area, Maine

I spent some time with the family in York last week and just wanted to relay some of the highs and lows (in that order):

Harry's Seafood Market, in York Beach
This was the best place we visited. I visited twice--lobster roll the first time, crab roll the second. Both rolls were generously-portioned and the seafood was properly cooked (and not overcooked), served on a grilled bun with just a touch of mayo and a tiny bit of diced celery. And no lettuce (which in my opinion is a very good thing). The sandwiches are served with "homemade" chips that are good, but a bit too crunchy for my taste, so on my second visit I upgraded to sweet potato fries. They came out of a freezer bag but were still really tasty.

Wild Willy's Burgers, on Route 1
We visited Wild Willy's towards the end of our trip, after getting slightly sick of seafood. I'm not sure if that's influencing my review, but I have to say that I went in with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the burgers. I tried a bison burger, which was the best I've had to date, served with a tasty horseradish sauce and some sauteed mushrooms. I found out later that it's a chain and they have a couple of Boston-area restaurants, so I'll have to give it another shot and see whether the seafood was messing with my point of view.

Jamaican Jerk Center, on Route 1
When we pulled up my MIL declared that she wouldn't eat a thing from "this dump"... Take that with however many grains of salt you like; I personally wasn't at all put off by its appearance, and eventually she was persuaded to eat something as well. I tried the curried goat dinner. Decent portion of tender, flavorful goat, served with rice and beans and a grilled(?) plantain that was a bit on the mushy side. The curry could have been a bit spicier, but I still really enjoyed it. I also tried a beef patty which was tasty but a bit on the salty side. Bonus: They sell Ting, the best grapefruit beverage in the universe.

Blue Sky, in York Beach
I'd been looking forward to trying this place for some time, and wondered how a "fine dining" type restaurant would work in York Beach. Answer: It doesn't, really. We visited on Tuesday night and the place was -dead-. The town itself had some activity, so it wasn't for a lack of potential customers. I just don't think it's a good fit for the area.

The dining room (or maybe I should say "rooms"--it's kind of split into three areas) is/are nicely designed, with a finished wood motif that is somewhat more evocative of a ski lodge than a beach place. We started with some fairly good cocktails--a Mai Tai that unfortunately contained pineapple juice, and a tasty drink including a raspberry-infused tequila--and then our server disappeared for quite some time.

This disappearing act turned out to be the theme of the night; our starters were delivered by the hostess, who apologized for dumping them in front of us, saying "I don't usually do this, you know." Before we'd had a chance to finish the starters, and long since our drink glasses had been emptied (no one had been by to offer another round), a busser arrived with our entrees. We did not see our actual server again until a few minutes after that when we finally flagged someone else down and requested a wine list so that we could have something with our meals.

The starters--we both had an heirloom tomato tart--were okay, a bit on the dull side. The entrees, on the other hand, were quite good. We tried the brick chicken, which was crispy, tender, and, in a word, comforting, and the short ribs. The ribs were braised then deep-fried, a preparation I've never had before. This gave them a crispy shell and ultra-tender interior. Amazing. Alas, the risotto they were served with was slightly under-cooked. Oh well, nothing is perfect...

So, food good, service very bad. I wouldn't make a whole lot of effort to return, unless I happened to be trapped in York with nothing better to do.

Fox's Lobster House, Nubble Point
We were staying nearby, so we visited Fox's twice. The first time I tried a lobster mac and cheese special. This was an "interesting" mix of overcooked and undercooked pasta, about half of which was sauced with a watery bechamel (a ladle-full of which had been dumped over the top of the dry pasta, thereby accounting for the inconsistent saucing). Here and there, floating amidst the noodles were some bits of lobster. Okay, I thought this might have just been a mistake, so we went back and ordered from the takeout counter. This time I tried a lobster roll. More expensive than at Harry's, with maybe 75% as much lobster meat. The meat itself was stringy and overcooked, bathing in mayo. The bun came lined with lettuce, which if you've read the Harry's section you know is something I consider to be a minus. I won't return to this place.

Visited a couple of other places that I don't feel like commenting on beyond saying that they were pretty mediocre: Sand and Surf on Long Sands, and Cape Neddick Inn on Route 1. Sand and Surf was the better of the two, despite Cape Neddick Inn trying a lot harder. Go figure :-)

I'll stop there. Hope this helps someone; enjoy!

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  1. Thanks for the info DSP.

    If you ever go back to Blue Sky just sit at the bar and order app's. I've been four times and always sit at the bar, usually outside. The bartender is somewhat captive so the service is better.

    I highly recommend the York Harbor Inn and Black Sushi in Ogunquit.

    2 Replies
    1. re: DaveCan

      Will try those next time, DaveCan. Speaking of sushi, I was just reading about how Maine has a big sea urchin industry. Sea urchin roe is one of my favorite nigiri toppings; do you know if that place serves local urchin? Or any other restaurants that do (either as sushi or some other preparation--I've never actually had it any other way but I would certainly love to)?

      1. re: davis_sq_pro

        DSP, I'm not sure, there menu is here

        If the link doesn't come through it's blacksushihouse dot com

    2. We were also just in York for vacation and went to Harry's twice. The first time, my husband got the lobster bisque, which he thought was excellent and I got fried calamari, which were also tasty. The sweet potato fries were very good and the portion is huge. Their onion rings are homemade and excellent--very crispy and a nice sized portion, too. The second visit, we both had lobster rolls, which were packed full of very tasty, tender meat and, like the OP said, not too much mayo or celery.

      We never made it to Fox's but I guess that's a good thing. Other places we tried that we'd never been to:

      Harborside Restaurant on Cape Neddick: Old timey kind of place that looked a bit worn. But great view and good service. My husband thoroughly enjoyed his bouillabaisse; my baked stuff shrimp was a bit disappointing. Too much stuffing, only 4 not-so-big overcooked shrimp.

      Jackie's Too at Perkins Cove: Nice seating out on an enclosed deck with heaters with an unbeatable view. We both had clam chowder which was tasty but way too thick and gummy for our tastes. He had scallops with bacon and blue cheese which he liked. I had a broiled seafood plate (a special that night) with scallops, shrimp, salmon and mussels over rice. It was ok, although the seafood was a bit bland. The best part of the meal, sadly, were the green beans, which were fresh and perfectly cooked.

      We wanted to get to Wild Willy's but never made it. Next time.