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Just Barb's - Stockton Springs, Maine

After more than a decade of planning to stop in at Just Barb's in Stockton Springs, Maine, I finally made it for lunch the day after Thanksgiving. So forgive me if I run on about it!

It's a tiny place on Route 1, clean as a whistle, with bar seating and tables. We settled in and pretty much knew what we wanted. My sister (who'd been once before) got a cup of clam chowder, the crab roll, with fries and cole slaw (exactly what she ordered the first time). I ordered a cup of haddock chowder, a clam roll with fries and cole slaw. Two yeasty warm rolls were placed on the table, followed in short order by the cups of chowder. One spoonful of my chowder and I knew the ingredients had been assembled in a sequence that kept each at its perfect consistency. The cubes of potatoes were well cooked, but held their shape, onions were done, but still had some "chew" to them, the haddock was firm, but flakey. And then, and THEN, I tasted my sister's clam chowder! I know clam chowder and build a good facsimile myself, but this chowder was the best I've ever tasted, anywhere. No chopped or minced clams here, but whole, tender, sweet clams. (I thought they were small steamers, but my sister thought they were hard-shelled little necks. No matter, though. ) The creamy broth had an intense clam broth flavor. We both wished we gotten more "to go".

The crab roll was just sweet crab meat with enough mayo to bind it a little, piled into a buttered grilled hot dog style bun. When my clam roll arrived, I thought they'd made a mistake and brought the clam platter instead. By the time I'd eaten my way down to the roll, I knew I didn't want the bread. LOTS of fried, whole clams in a crispy batter, very much like tempura. The batter was just that light, and the oil impeccably clean. Just Barb's can fry up a storm! The fries were amazing, as well, perfectly crispy on the outside, creamy inside. We loved the cole slaw too, with its subtle bite of horseradish. Iced tea sure tasted freshly brewed to us.

We didn't have room for dessert, and I don't know if it's made in house, but here's what was listed on the dessert board:

Pies: coconut cream, apple crumb, chocolate, lemon meringue, blueberry, and raspberry. Oh, and something called grapenut custard.

If I hadn't been sort of stunned by the whole experience, I might have looked at the rest of the menu! I did see a sign that said Friday night is prime rib night!

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  1. Fresh iced tea! My husband is very fussy about his ice tea. He wants the real thing, unsweetened and fresh. We have only been to Just Barb's once. I wish it were closer. we happened to get hungry at just the right time to pull over when we saw it. Glad to hear it's still great.

    1. Went to Just Barb's twice and loved it both times. The first day, they had no clams - I got over the heartbreak and ordered fried scallops - sweet, firm, extremely fresh and fried perfectly with a light coating. The hubby got a hamburger (and a kick under the table from me) because he didn't see the fish 'n chips blurb on the front of the menu. Even so, he noted that his burger was super-fresh, looked hand-formed, and tasted excellent - the toasted bun cinched the deal for him. Fries were perfect, too.

      Since I missed the clams, and he missed the fish 'n chips, we went back the next day. They had clams! Yay! Those sweet babies were, again, done to perfection - just heaven on a plate. The hubby enjoyed his fish 'n ships, and I know the menu says all you can eat, but they actually asked if hubby wanted a reload - I don't frequent a lot of all you can eat places, but I always thought you had to ask, so I was impressed.

      Oh - the pie ..... the blueberry pie was to die for. With apologies to Dot in Round Pond, I think the Just Barb's pie edged her out for best ever in my book. We even ate the bread - a corn bread and a white bread roll - and both were delicious. (It was a late lunch, we were famished.)

      The staff was great, too - friendly, efficient, helpful. Just Barb's manages to be a favorite place for locals to hang, but they treat the touristas like regulars, too - I don't run into that very often and just love them for that. I can't say enough good things about Just Barb's and can't wait to get back there. Whenever that may be.

      Just Barb's
      24 Main St, Stockton Springs, ME 04981

      1 Reply
      1. re: harrie

        Thanks for the terrific report. I'm so glad to hear that Barb's is still all I remember. I went back this summer too. They remembered us! Great little place.

      2. Welcome to downeast Maine, Chummy! Now you know why I recommend Just Barbs. Drive another hour and try Chester Pikes Galley and Tracey's in Sullivan.

        Just Barb's
        24 Main St, Stockton Springs, ME 04981

        1. A week and a half ago, ten of us had lunch at Barb's before going our separate ways. Excluding the children, we'd all been there at least once. It's as good as I remembered. I had a bowl of the clam chowder, still wonderful. Since I'd been snacking a lot that morning, I grazed around the table to round out my lunch! The star of the table was the crab roll with slaw and those fabulous fries; the scallop platter was a close second. The berry pies this time of year are a must. My grandson surprised us by ordering cheesecake! I wasn't fast enough to get a bite of that!I. I need to get there for breakfast one of these trips; corned beef hash!

          1. Thanks! I need to stop soon, instead of driving by and saying "I really should stop" - it sounds much better than Angler's down the road a piece. Angler's is OK and fairly inexpensive, but I wouldn't go beyond that.

            9 Replies
            1. re: lifeasbinge

              You're lucky! It sounds like you drive by more often than the twice a year (if I'm lucky!) that I do. Do stop, next time. If it's on your regular route, try breakfast and let us know about that hash! TIA!!

              1. re: Pat Hammond

                The better half and I were in Bucksport this morning so we stopped in at Barb's for lunch on the way home. Place was packed. I am happy to report that both the clam and haddock chow'da was excellent . We had clam baskets and it was all I could do to eat mine, cause I was not going to leave even one. So for those of you who have not experienced this little gem - don't drive by. I like the sign out front " The Best Kept Secret in Waldo County" its true !

                1. re: DaBear

                  Thanks, Da Bear! So glad to hear it was "packed" !

                  1. re: Pat Hammond

                    Just noticed in the VillageSoup that Just Barb's is up for sale.


                    Just Barb's
                    24 Main St, Stockton Springs, ME 04981

                    1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                      What a total bummer! I wonder why? Seems a fair price for a place with all the equipment and a good clientele. I sure hope someone who can cook buys it. Thanks for letting us know...

                      1. re: Pat Hammond

                        Martha's like Ruth & Wimpys has been for sale for at least 3 years. I wouldn't worry about it too much. Haven't you noticed that it seems like every other house in coastal Maine is for sale???

                        Ruth & Wimpys Restaurant
                        792 US Hwy 1, Hancock, ME 04640

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          Hardly unique to Maine. I was in Florida a few months ago and it seemed like EVERY house was for sale.

                      2. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                        Up from CT over the weekend. My sister and I had some great food and saw no sign that the place was up for sale. Crab ragoons, crabmeat rolls, coleslaw, fries, blueberry pie (native blues) and good vanilla ice cream. What's not to like? First time there but not the last.

                        1. re: philbkr

                          Thanks for letting us know! Crab rangoon, huh? I never saw that there. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. If it's for sale, it doesn't seem to be reflected in what they're turning out. I'll be in Maine over Thanksgiving and hope to get over there myself!

              2. I visited Just Barb's for the first time over Labor Day weekend (2011). I made my mom go with me. She lives near Camden and this place never, ever came up in "where should we eat" conversations, even when we were going to be in that area. I asked her why and she said she had been twice, years ago. Was underwhelmed and while she doesn't mind casual, she especially didn't like booths with rips in the vinyl. I showed her this thread and she figured it must have changed. So off we went.

                We had the fried clams and the fried haddock. They came with corn bread and french fries that were done just right. The clams and haddock were good. The fish was cooked perfectly and was sweet (as I would expect anywhere in mid-coast Maine with proximity to fresh seafood). They weren't fantastic. The batter was of a type I have never seen and did add a lot to the experience. I think the same batter was used on the clams as the fish, but I could not swear. The batter on the fish was more like, how do I say? A layer. A thin coating that did not adhere to the fish but slid off it.

                The booth we sat in? Tear in the vinyl. The bar seating mentioned in the original post? Well, I didn't notice if they served booze, we had brewed iced tea, but I would call it a counter not a bar. As you can see in the picture in this link http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_JUtdcDTVuU0... you sit facing the soda machine and next to the coffee cups.

                I would go again if someone said, "Hey, were are going do you want to come?" but not if it was my choice.

                Just Barb's
                24 Main St, Stockton Springs, ME 04981

                2 Replies
                1. re: calliope_nh

                  Sorry if I misspoke about the bar. If you managed to wade through my initial post, you might have gathered I spent my meal somewhat dazed! I do wish your experience had been closer to mine.

                  1. re: calliope_nh

                    I'm with momma Calliope on this one. A pass. I had a mayo-heavy crabmeat roll, and the fries were the frozen kind that I hate, the ones with some kind of coating on them. Lotsa diners in Maine do what Just Barb's does just a bit better than Barb.

                    Just Barb's
                    24 Main St, Stockton Springs, ME 04981

                  2. I went to Barb's almost a month ago and the clam were wonderful along with the onion rings a little better than most places worth the money if U love fried clams.

                    1. I've heard rumors that the ownership of Just Barb's may have changed a few years ago and that the quality of the food had declined. Is this true?

                      Regardless, are their signature dishes (crab roll, fried clams, corned beef hash, strawberry shortcake, berry pies) still as good as they used to be?

                      More to the point, is this place still worth a special trip, or is it merely a good-but-not-great local spot?

                      1. Had lunch at Barb's last week. The crab roll was great-lots of sweet crab barely held to gether wirh the tiniest bit of mayo. I had the blueberry pie heated up with 3 scoops of really good vanilla ice cream. The pie was stuffed with tiny wild blueberries. My friend ( who usually doesn't eat dessert-come to think of it, neither do I) devoured at least half of it. I'm sorry I forgot to ask what kind of ice cream they used-it was the perfect vanilla. All in all, itwas a great lunch.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Pwmfan

                          Really glad to read a recent report. By any chance, did you have fries with the crab roll? They were the best I'd ever had when I was there. I'll be up that way over Thanksgiving week and will definitely have a lunch at Barb's. Thanks so much!

                          1. re: Pat Hammond

                            Just saw this! Yes, the fries were excellent. I had to stop eating them, though- I was determined to have room for blueberry pie.

                            1. re: Pwmfan

                              Well, I just saw this and wanted to thank you for your response! Sounds as good as ever. Pat