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Mid-Coast Trip report

CookingGirl Mar 22, 2010 08:34 AM

We took a trip to the mid-coast area a couple of weeks ago and I thought I’d post some reviews.

Seabasket, Wiscasset-Woo hoo! We had no idea they were open already (early March), so when we were driving by and saw the “open” sign we turned in on two wheels. It was awesome, as usual. ME shrimp side was great, haddock huge platter was great. It was the quietest we’ve ever seen it at lunch time. Really, it was just us and all locals which was cool. Met some nice people. Love it there.

Francine Bistro, Camden-excellent. It was surprisingly quiet for a Saturday night. Way less bustle than when we were there a few years ago. Broccoli rabe soup app was great but surprising. For some reason I expected a brothy soup with the rabe floating in it. This was a cream soup, bright green, with no hint of the bitterness you’d expect from rabe. Spicy ME shrimp pizza was great, appropriately spicy. Entrees of pan-cooked chicken and black cod (or bass?) were excellent with inventive sides.

Hartstone Inn, Camden. Dinner. It was the Restaurant Week menu. Celeriac bisque with ME crab was great, as were the butternut squash raviolis. Entrees (pork and haddock) were fine, but sort of blah. It struck me that the sides were totally boring and the same for both dishes—steamed broccoli and carrots and an ice cream scoop of mashed potatoes. Seemed a little like banquet food. Pear tart was great, chocolate trio was pretty good.

Hartstone Inn. Breakfasts, etc. They rotate sweet and savory, so we were bummed to start on sweet, which stuck us with two whipped-cream topped breakfasts. Waffles were boring. Crunchy French toast was delicious, and I’m not a French toast person. Bacon-wrapped sausage was OK. Sausage was good, bacon was just soggy-one or the other would have been better. First course yogurt parfaits were good, one day it was a ricotta cheese flan that was good. The savory dish we had was shirred eggs covered with a very thick layer of cheese and some pesto cream. It was greasy but good. Mr. CookingGirl commented that the chef was trying to kill us. Coffee was terrible, and I found it annoying that they didn’t serve any one of the several good locally roasted coffees. They left Lindt truffles in the room. Seemed very lame for an Inn with such a great culinary rep. At least make some little treat or if you do buy chocolates, get something local.

Brevetto, Camden. Disaster. This was a Tuesday night of Resto Week. The place was still pretty quiet, but even so, they were unprepared with just one waitress covering everything. I could tell it was going to be a drag the minute we walked in and had to wait forever to be seated in the third-full restaurant. Sat down next to a table of a zillion dirty dishes. Everything took forever. Did not do Resto Week menu. Pesto flatbread was good, but too heavy on the cheese. Veal/pork Bolognese over polenta was good, but presented very sloppily, and it was a tiny serving. Perhaps they gave us the Resto Week serving. Sauteed kale was great. Chicken ragu with morels sounded great so I gave it a try. I took a bite and it was as if I was eating a mouthful of sand. Not just a grain, a mouthful. I tested a few more times to see if it was just the first bites, but it was through the entire dish. It was clear that they did not rinse the morels, or they used the soaking water, including the dirt. I NEVER return dishes, but I had to. I switched it for the haddock, which was breaded and pan-fried. Uninspiring. All through the meal we had to ask for utensils, water, bread, etc. Service was awful. For the miserable sandy dish, we got two free coffees, and $4 off the haddock. Hardly commensurate with the absolutely inedible dish I was served. Awful, the kind of place I would not give a second chance to.

Blue Hill Food Co-op, Blue Hill. Lunch. Turkey minestrone was delicious. Tuna sandwich from prepared food case was embarrassing. Bread was completely soggy and inedible. If you can’t figure out a way to keep something fresh, don’t put it in a case like that.

Rock City, Rockland. Had a few cups of great coffee there. Cappucino was so-so...foam more like soap bubbles than microfoam. Brought home some of their Darkstar beans and they are awesome. I want to drink it constantly. I like the roastery location better than the coffee shop because the coffee shop was always crazy crowded and very hot.

Sweet Sensations bakery and café, Rockport-delicious toasted pecan biscotti. Éclair tasted very good, but the chocolate on top was more of an icing or hard shell and it cracked and fell off in two huge pieces when we attempted to bite into it.

Roberts, Kittery-stopped here on the way home because we had a gift certificate. Wasn’t expecting much. Fish and chips were excellent. Seafood paella was not good, and they totally left out the shrimp. We ended up getting it comped. It filled the hole and was an easy stop for us.

Farmer’s Fare and Maine Cheese Co., Rockport-we brought home a bunch of delightful stuff from both of these stores. Already made an awesome black bean soup with the turtle beans from The Beanery we got at Farmer’s Fare.

Hartstone Inn
Camden, ME, Camden, ME

43 Mechanic St Ste 12, Camden, ME 04843

  1. Cassoulet Mar 22, 2010 12:56 PM

    Thanks for the report. I'd been wondering about trying Brevetto, but now I think it's safe to cross it off my list.

    1. c
      catnip Mar 22, 2010 01:34 PM

      Yes,thank you for your report.
      Heading up that way in a few weeks and now know what to try and to avoid!!!
      Thanks again!
      Appreciative Catnip

      1. s
        Shooley Mar 23, 2010 06:02 AM

        We were at Brevetto that very same night...I've already posted about our experience there. 'Nuff said.

        43 Mechanic St Ste 12, Camden, ME 04843

        1. m
          mainecoastchef Mar 25, 2010 05:50 PM

          you should have taken my advice and hit Rockland instead of the dinner that you had at Brevetto. The owner of Brevetto is a hard working young chef and he tries very hard but the difficulties of running a restaurant in a tough market like Camden can be overwhelming at times. Brevetto is not top of my list but I do respect the owner for his efforts. He had a couple of gourmet food shops a couple of years ago and I would say that it was more his forte but some heavy hitters from away got him into a place and then hung him out to dry as far as I am concerned. The mill in Camden is totally screwed up, a far cry from what it was 10 years ago when MBNA was around.

          43 Mechanic St Ste 12, Camden, ME 04843

          1 Reply
          1. re: mainecoastchef
            MidCoastMaineiac Apr 4, 2010 03:04 PM

            I have to stand up for Brevetto. I do agree that they've had staffing issues....i'd say 50% of the times we visited in the off-season they were very under-prepared. I too went there for Restaurant Week...on a Tuesday...and I don't think they anticipated the number of customers. That being said, they do have some great food and an excellent wine list...I love the flights. The pasta carbonnara is consistenly awesome. The also have an insane happy hour...if I remember correctly it's 5 dollar glasses of wine...even the GOOD stuff! So, Cassoulet in particular, I'd give them a shot...maybe on a Fri/Sat night when the SHOULD be staffed appropriately.

            43 Mechanic St Ste 12, Camden, ME 04843

          2. t
            terrystu Apr 5, 2010 09:02 AM

            I have to agree with many of your conclusions, cookinggirl, we tried Brevetto once, and while we had no issues with service, the food is boring and underseasoned, no interesting flavors. Roberts is just a horrible tourist dump, one visit was enough for both of these.
            On the plus side, Seabasket is one of our regular stops, never been disappointed and a great value.
            Thanks for the excellent post.

            43 Mechanic St Ste 12, Camden, ME 04843

            1 Reply
            1. re: terrystu
              LeRique Apr 5, 2010 12:00 PM

              Seabasket it good but their bisque has too much cooking sherry,for me overpowering.

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