Mache Bistro, Bar Harbor: very promising
SO and I had a chance to check out this newly-opened spot last weekend, and found it definitely worth a return visit (whenever we get back there!) This small (9 copper-top tables plus bar seating), chef-owner spot at the less-touristy end of Cottage St. offers a limited menu of delicious food. For aps, we selected the crab & lobster cakes, which were entirely seafood from what I could tell, and in which one could taste both flavors under the crunchy coating, accompanied by a nice olive tapenade. SO had the grilled calamari, a great change from the usual fried, perfectly tender. This dish had the only off note of the evening for me: served (as are many of the dishes at Mache) on a pile of crispy flatbread, which in this case was overloaded with cheese: definitely detracted from the squid, and its aioli.
Entrees were outstanding. SO chose a special of the evening, sesame-coated yellowfin tuna, which was flawlessly cooked, and served on a bed of whipped sweet potato (a veggie that most dishes that evening included), smoothed out with some white potato, and served with a sweet chili sauce and sesame oil reduction. Somehow, this managed to be not-overlay sweet: great flavours working off one another. And I had the best cassoulet-type dish I've had on this side of the Atlantic: beautifully cooked duck, rich hearty bean flavours, and instead of preserved duck, a nice variation using smoked duck. Just the right amount of food overall, although we skipped dessert. Numerous wines by the glass at reasonable ($6-9) prices: we tried 4, including a slightly-effervescent Vinho verde, and a decent "bistro red." Service was attentive without being obtrusive, and best of all, $102 for the food and wine before tip.
Bar Harbor has had a hard time over the years keeping restaurants like this, so I certainly hope they prosper!
135 Cottage St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609