HOME > Chowhound > Northern New England >

Discussion

Maine (Portland, Wiscasset, Camden, Bar Harbor) Advice Sought

We will be taking a 10-day vacation in Maine in mid-August: a couple days each in Portland, Wiscasset, and Camden, and then 4 days in Bar Harbor. I've already done some snooping here and elsewhere and have a list. I'd welcome thoughts on those here as well as other suggestions.

The list will probably give a decent idea of our interests, but we like to focus on places that make an effort to use local product, I appreciate contemporary cooking concepts and techniques, and I'm not overly interested in "ethnic" options unless they're really exceptional (i.e., setting aside politics and focusing exclusively on dining choices, unlike our president, I'm not inclined to go to a Cuban restaurant in Maine). Suggestions for more casual breakfast and lunch options that are not serving food off the Sysco truck are also very much welcome, including good bakeries. I should perhaps note that we're traveling with our kids (12 & 10), though they are good eaters and the only possible limits that puts on us is no long tasting menu type dinners.

With that preview, here's the list so far:

PORTLAND:
Fore Street
Street & Co. (do these have the same owner?).
Duck Fat
Hugo's (probably not an option b/c we're there Sun-Mon and it appears to be closed those days).
J's Oyster
Becky's Diner

What's the situation with reservations at Fore Street and Street & Co.? It appears Street & Co. has blocked all but 5:30 on Open Table, and Fore Street also seems to have reservations entirely blocked on Open Table. Do you have better luck if you call? I know they say they hold tables for walk-ins, is that viable? I suppose that the one other limitation with traveling with the kids is that the flexibility to leave such things to chance, or to wait a long time to be seated, is limited.

WISCASSET:
Le Garage
Sea Basket
Red's Eats (tourist trap / hype or worth a visit?).
Lobster Dock (ditto).

We will be staying at the Squire Tarbox Inn, which has a restaurant. Anyone been recently?

CAMDEN:
Primo
Francine

BAR HARBOR:
Cafe This Way
Fiddler's Green
Maggie's
Jordan Pond
Red Bird Provisions

Red Bird looked pretty interesting and I've not seen much mentioned about it. We'll be staying in Northeast Harbor.
www.redbirdprovisions.com

We were in Maine about 10-15 years ago, and went someplace quite good called the Porcupine Grill. It appears to be long gone. Any insight as to whether it became something else?

You will see that several of the places on this list are places that have gotten some national publicity. In my mind, that doesn't necessarily mean they're worth a visit, only that I've heard of them as a result - and thus why I"m asking for feedback here.

Thanks in advance for all feedback. If you're ever heading to South Florida, I'm always happy to reciprocate.

www.foodforthoughtmiami.com

-----
Cafe This Way
14 Mount Desert St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Fore Street
288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

Lobster Dock
49 Atlantic Ave, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538

Sea Basket
303 Bath Rd, Wiscasset, ME

Becky's Diner
390 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101

Fiddler's Green Restaurant
411 Main St, Southwest Harbor, ME 04679

J's Oyster
5 Portland Pier, Portland, ME 04101

Red's Eats
Main, Wiscasset, ME 04578

Street & Co
33 Wharf St., Portland, ME 04101

Duck Fat
43 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. There is a place in Rockland that should be a must on your culinary adventure ...
    In Good Company...we hope it is still there when we head that way for the Lobster Festival

    9 Replies
    1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

      BGG, be wary of and prepared for the lobster festival; it's no deal and a big tourist magnet.

      1. re: Passadumkeg

        Thanks, I like the vibe of the festival, but my true love is the little place...In Good Company...that is where I will be ;) Or the bar that over looked the festival, I can't remember the name, but last time we went there to have cocktails and could see the lobster crate races from there..

        Do you know where the festival committee buys the lobsters from for the festival? I would like to hope from the local fishermen.

        1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

          Yes, lobsters for the festival are sourced *very* locally.

          1. re: HDinCentralME

            True, but still a zoo and expensive.
            BGG, The Time Out Pub. Tell Paul I said hi.

            1. re: Passadumkeg

              Thanks for the info...will do...
              Glad to hear sourced locally, my husband is a commerical fisherman and we like to support other fishermen, I still would rather purchase directly from or dine at placed like Co-Ops.

              1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                If I was going to be here, I'd get a student of mine to take you haulin' bugs on his boat.
                Don't miss Conte's in Rockland, if you like Italian frestest seafood, in huge portions, at a reasonable price, cooked by an "eccentric" cook and served by waitresses w/ brass cojones. We love, but not for "high fallutin'". raised pinky crowd.

                1. re: Passadumkeg

                  Heard a lot about that place ...Hell we are not "pinky raising" kind of people anyway, so sounds right up alley :)

          2. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

            to BERMUDAGOURMETGODDESS,
            You seem to be knowledgeable about eating in Maine and also have some background about Bermuda. Wife and I are traveling via cruise ship to be in Bermuda Sept 12 - 14 and then via car from Boston to Maine Sept 17 - 22, 2010. Would sure like your input about places to eat while on this, our last for a long while, trip to both places. Our age (long ago retired, but we are healthy) and the economy is limiting our funds. Bermuda for local food and Maine for Lobster and more Lobster. Reading a lot of blogs, but it's gotten too confusing to look at the place and then try to find it on a map. Prefer some one with experience just guide us to the good places.
            KINGART253

            1. re: KINGART

              Just a quick note requesting that if anyone has feedback on the Bermuda question, they start a new thread on the board that covers that region: http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/88

      2. I'll weigh in on Portland. Fore St and Street &Co are solid (some say Fore St has gone downhill recently, but I wouldn't know; Street is ALL seafood, and it's great, but only if everyone likes seafood). If you can't get reservations at either of those (and I would not depend on walking in unless you want to eat at Fore St's bar), I would try Emilitsa (Greek, outstanding) or Bresca (tiny, so good luck).

        On the casual side: I'm in the anti-Becky's camp. It's not bad, but it's not worth either the wait or the prices. I'd suggest the Port Hole (for either breakfast or lunch), or the Good Egg for breakfast. And the kids will like Silly's for lunch.

        -----
        Bresca
        111 Middle Street, Portland, ME 04101

        1. We appreciate you doing your research first.

          Yes Fore St and Street & Co are same ownership.

          Becky's Diner is fine but over-hyped. I second Porthole for breakfast/brunch.

          Wiscasset: Red's is not worth waiting in line for but if you catch it early or late you might try it. Le Garage is good but very traditional/non-innovative. Lobster Dock (the one I'm thinking of is actually in Boothbay Harbor) is reliably good.
          For more "innovative/local" look to Damariscotta River Grill (in Damariscotta) and Solo Bistro (in Bath). Breakfast "hole-in-the-wall: Ship's Chow Hall.

          -----
          Lobster Dock
          49 Atlantic Ave, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538

          Becky's Diner
          390 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101

          Street & Co
          33 Wharf St., Portland, ME 04101

          Solo Bistro
          130 Front St., Bath, ME 04530

          Ship's Chow Hall
          277 Bath Rd, Wiscasset, ME 04578

          7 Replies
          1. re: HDinCentralME

            I second many of the remarks above. Would particularly "ditto" the recommendation for Damaraiscotta River Grill: ate there last week, and had the best "basic" steamed mussels ap I've ever tasted. I join the crowd elsewhere on the list in the past in not thinking J's Oyster is worth the occasional fuss: oysters are pre-shucked, for openers. If you want oysters, eat 'em in Damariscotta, where they're local.
            My vote for delicious and local in BH goes hands down to Mache Bistro, on the "wrong" end of Cottage St.
            Another standby rec for Portland is Caiola's: plenty of local sourcing, delicious, and in the summer, a great location (outside dining). Much as I like the food at Besca, it's pretty noisy and might not be a good choice with your youngsters.

            -----
            Caiola's
            58 Pine St, Portland, ME 04102

            J's Oyster
            5 Portland Pier, Portland, ME 04101

            1. re: HDinCentralME

              Last I knew, Dana Street was only part owner at Fore Street. The driving force behind Fore Street is chef/owner Sam Hayward...who I don't think has anything to do with Street & Co.

              -----
              Fore Street
              288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

              Street & Co
              33 Wharf St., Portland, ME 04101

              1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                The OP asked if restos had same owners. The "simple" answer is yes, they are sister restos. From the Fore Street website: "Fore Street is part of a family of restaurants and bakeries that includes Street & Co...." I didn't think the OP was asking for exact %ages. This is Chowhound, not Wall Street Journal.

                -----
                Fore Street
                288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

                Street & Co
                33 Wharf St., Portland, ME 04101

                1. re: HDinCentralME

                  The point being if the OP is basing a decision on whether or not to skip one because they have the same "owner" (non-plural), then the "simple" answer will lead them astray. Two different restaurants. Two different styles.

                  1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                    Can you expand on the 'two different styles" thought? We've booked a reservation for our first night in Portland at Fore Street, and indeed one of the open questions is whether to do night #2 at Street & Co. The other primary option seems to be 555 since we are there Sun-Mon and many other places we'd be interested in are closed. Duck Fat and Nosh look like likely lunch candidates for Portland.

                    1. re: Frodnesor

                      At it's most basic, Steet & Co. is seafood only....Fore Street has the land grazers. Spit roasted even. I would say both employ a simple approarch..ie. let the main ingredients do the talking...but those main ingredients/processes can be quite different.

                      1. re: Frodnesor

                        I agree with MCM (below), but would add that they're also quite different spaces: Street a little noisier, but comfortably so; FS very "open kitchen and open space." FS feels a little more up-scale, perhaps, but I've eaten at both very happily on a number of occasions, and if you're in town for seafood, you'll not find anywhere else with more delicious, and different, types and approaches than S&Co.

              2. I'm not an expert on Portland but can confirm that Fore Street is solid.

                For Bar Harbor I would suggest a couple of lobster pounds in the area along with Galyn's (http://www.galynsbarharbor.com/) which will require reservations. The seafood there is pretty good and of good value. I've had consistent meals there with decent service. Cafe Bluefish in Bar Harbor used to be pretty good too if I recall correctly.

                For lobster I might suggest Beale's or Thurston's, Beale's being more rustic. Thurston's does have sides and beer and wine, while Beale's is primarily lobster. Both places have been covered on this board in the past.

                Another rustic pound is Young's in Belfast. They have a dining area and you can bring all of your sides and drink, although they do sell them too (sides, no alcohol). Belfast is about 1.5 hours drive from Bar Harbor on Rte. 1.

                -----
                Galyn's
                17 Main St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

                2 Replies
                1. re: Highland Park

                  AVOID YOUNGS AT ALL COSTS.
                  I don't know if they got new management or what, but if you want to pay too much for stale food at high prices - example, bowl of clam chowder $14. Inadequate utensils, lousy service, try to rip you off.

                  1. re: a1234

                    Thanks for the update. I was there two summers ago and everything was great. That's a pity.

                2. My thoughts on Portland: Street & Co. Excellent seafood - well worth it. Caiola - excellent new American cuisine - also well worth the price . Caiola also has the best appetizer I have ever had - a meat/veggie/cheese/salad extraganza for around $15 that feeds 4 easily. If you like Italian check out Ribbolita, in my opinion the best price/quality restaurant in Portland. The best restaurant in Portland - my opinion only - is The Grill Room. If you like rich food served unapologetically you will love this place. It is very expensive unless you order carefully but the food is memorable and the wine list is very reasonable for a restaurant of this quality.

                  Finally, for breakfast, in addition to Becky, check out Bayou Kitchen for a NOLA breakfast (off the Peninsula, just off Forest). For the kids, Silly's is cheap and has great food for everyone. They serve breakfast too, I think. And, for a great lobster roll or fried seafood goodies check out Susan's Fish and Chips on outer Forest

                  -----
                  Grill Room
                  84 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101

                  Caiola's
                  58 Pine St, Portland, ME 04102

                  Street & Co
                  33 Wharf St., Portland, ME 04101

                  Bayou Kitchen
                  543 Deering Ave, Portland, ME 04103