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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

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  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

                  1. Just wanted to point out that Primo is actually in Rockland and so is In Good Company. Camden is very crowded and there is actually not much to see, especially for kids. But in or near Rockland:

                    Rockland Cafe - basic breakfast with great fish cakes
                    Atlantic Bakery
                    Conte's
                    Susuki Sushi
                    Wasse's hot dogs

                    Sightseeing:
                    Farnsworth Art Museum
                    Rockland Breakwater lighthouse (great walk)
                    ferry to North Haven or Vinalhaven

                    Head down the St George peninsula for more food:
                    Waterman's Beach lobster (South Thomaston)
                    Miller's Lobster (Spruce Head)
                    Keag Store for lobster rolls to take to the beach (South Thomaston)

                    And sightseeing:
                    Owl's Head liight house
                    Birch Point Beach
                    Drift In Beach
                    Marshall Point light house
                    Port Clyde harbor

                    -----
                    In Good Company
                    415 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841

                    1. Check Caiola's web site, as I wanted to eat there the last time I had more than one night in Portland, and I believe they too are closed Sunday and Monday (though I believe they serve brunch on Sunday). Too bad about the timing as I adore Hugo's, but they are definitely closed those two days (actually I found many of Portland''s better restaurants were closed Sun and Mon when I checked). I know 555 is open, as we ate there on Sunday, and I know it has many fans on this board, but I was unimpressed with it. Since many others rave about it, however, it may be an good option that IS open. Good luck (and make sure you at least get to Duckfat!).

                      -----
                      Caiolas
                      Portland, ME, Portland, ME

                      1. You want local product...it doesn't get more local than one's own backyard...which is where Melissa Kelly at Primo in Rockland sources alot of her ingredients (from herbs to pigs). That place is a MUST. And don't lump the Rockland establishments under Camden =). If it's been 15 years since you've seen the midcoast, you'll see just how far Rockland has come...in many ways surpassing Camden....especially on the food front.

                        1. First and foremost, thanks to all for such helpful advice and feedback. Much appreciated. Some follow-up (incidentally, I grouped places in my initial post by our "home base," recognizing that some of the places are in different towns, i.e. Camden / Rockland; generally, we're willing to travel up to 1/2 hour or so for a good meal) ->

                          PORTLAND:
                          - It had not initially occurred to me that being in Portland Sun-Mon was going to significantly limit our dining options. There are a number of places I'd be interested in (Hugo's, Bresca, Caiola's, Bar Lola ...) that look to be closed both days. Looks like it'll definitely be Fore Street or Street & Co. for one night.
                          - Duck Fat looks like more of a lunch than a dinner place, am I mistaken?
                          - Grill Room / Front Room look to be open 7 days, Grill Room got one shout-out, any other opinions? Menus does look a bit heavy and somewhat conservative, though that's fine if the execution is good.
                          - The Port Hole suggestion looks like a good one for breakfast/lunch. The menu at Silly's looks like a train wreck, is the food actually good?

                          CAMDEN:
                          - there seems to be a real division of opinion on Primo on this board. Some of it is a bit dated, some rather recent. Is it more about the food or what sounds like repeated complaints about aloof service? Any recent insights?
                          - also came across the Edge in Lincolnville. Looks good - thoughts?
                          - we'll have 2 dinners in/around Camden, look to be choosing among Primo, Francine, In Good Company, Edge; welcome any thoughts on making a decision among them.

                          BAR HARBOR:
                          - could really use more help here, as we're going to have 4 nights there.

                          Also - Mrs. F still remembers going to Moody's Diner in Waldoboro 10-15 years ago. Seems to be along the way - worth a stop?

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

                          Moody's Diner
                          1885 Atlantic Hwy, Waldoboro, ME

                          Grill Room
                          84 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101

                          Caiola's
                          58 Pine St, Portland, ME 04102

                          Bar Lola
                          100 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04000

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

                          In Good Company
                          415 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841

                          Front Room Restaurant & Bar
                          73 Congress St Ste A, Portland, ME 04101

                          Bresca
                          111 Middle Street, Portland, ME 04101

                          Duck Fat
                          43 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101

                          23 Replies
                          1. re: Frodnesor

                            Take a look at 555 in Portland. Duckfat is primarily a lunch-type place, but a definite do not miss. I am unapologetic, any difference of opinion on Primo is made up of people who don't know what they're talking about. Primo is one of the best restaurants not only in Maine, but New England and beyond. I've been there 5-6 times in the past 2 years and everything I've EVER had is fantastic. Waitstaff is knowledgeable and courteous. EVERY time. I went to the bar one night but had to wait for a space to open up (no reservations at the bar) and they went out of their way to accomodate me while I waited. Primo is 2nd to none.
                            I'll give a shout out to The Edge in Lincolnville. They have a fantastic oceanside patio....and it's such a great setting. Was there on Sunday for pizza night...which is always fun. Think pizza with lobster and fontina cheese...etc...that kind of thing.
                            But that being said, if you're going to do only two dinners, it's Primo and Francine. If you want to spend a little less, or want to supplement your two dinners with some other options, then start looking at Suzuki Sushi in Rockland, Lily Bistro in Rockland, Shepherd's Pie in Rockport (same chef/owner as Francine), and the Edge.

                            -----
                            Lily Bistro
                            421 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841

                            1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                              MidCoastMaineiac - Is Primo the fine dining establishment featured on the Miane episode of No Reservations? If so that place looked amazing! I rarely if ever get north of Portland, but we've considered the drive up there to eat there.

                              Frodnesor - Duckfat IS more of a lunch place (Belgian fries, fried in 25% duckfat), paninni sandwiches, delicious house made sodas, but I believe they are open until 8PM now. I feel your pain in terms of the Sun/Mon thing in Portland, but Fore St is a solid grilled meats/fish type of place, that should satisfy most palates and tastes. Again, while I'm not a fan of 555, many on the board are, and they are open on Sun/Mon.

                              1. re: kimfair1

                                Hi kimfair1...it certainly is. Bourdain was quoted in the Bangor Daily News a few days later saying that Primo was the best restaurant north of NYC that he'd ever eaten at.
                                Now cue the Bourdain haters, taking their shots......

                                1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                  I love Bourdain, and that restaurant looked AMAZING! I think he actually said that on the show as well. Looks like I'm going to have to hike up there and try it sometime. I think Tony should eat at O Ya in Boston as well. Unbelievable, and voted by ex-NYT reviewer Frank Bruni as the finest new restaurant outside of NYC 2 years ago when it opened. You do need to sell a kidney to eat there, but it's so worth it!

                                  1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                    When Bourdain gives a restaurant a positive response, revenues rise dramaticly. If you want to be treated like Bourdain, start by having the same effect. Know what it takes to make a fine meal, and don't pretend to be an expert if you haven't got the knowledge to back it up. He gets treated like he's Anthony Bourdain because he's Bourdain

                                    1. re: bi11me

                                      Not really seeing where I said I wanted to be treated like Bourdain. I just want to eat at Primo (which I wouldn't have known about without Bourdain or Chowhound) and think he should try O Ya in Boston, because I think he'd be impressed with it (because it's really good). You need to see a kidney to eat there because it's really expensive.

                                      1. re: kimfair1

                                        Sell 2 kidneys and a cornea.

                              2. re: Frodnesor

                                Silly's is fun and funky and the food is good, and it might be a nice break for the kids from Fine Dining. Another option, if you want really good food, is Paciarino (for lunch or dinner, don't know about Sundays)--absolutely fantastic pasta made by people who moved here from Milan.

                                -----
                                Paciarino
                                468 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101

                                1. re: sciencediet

                                  Never mind. Paciarino is open Tuesday to Saturday.

                                  -----
                                  Paciarino
                                  468 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101

                                2. re: Frodnesor

                                  I like Grill Room a lot: quite a varied menu (where else can you get duck w/ goat cheese pizza (delicious)? My suggestion for BH is Mache Bistro: see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6571... From BH, you can also go over to SW Harbor, to the Mexican XYZ, which many people think highly of. Personal advice: skip Moody's, unless you're really in the mood for pie: everything else is just ordinary.

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

                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                    Re: Duckfat - you're not mistaken.
                                    Re: Primo - I own an inn in Belfast and we have quite a few guests, some of whom are serious & well-traveled foodies, who've been there. I've never nothing but raves. I have heard the rare story of aloof service, but I don't think it's at all typical. My own experiences there have been uniformly excellent.
                                    Re: The Edge - never eaten there, but I've heard good things about the chef from my friends at Rosemont and they're as educated as anyone about the food scene in Maine. (Should you have the opportunity to stop into the original Rosemont market on Brighton Ave., ask John Naylor your questions!)

                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                      Lily Bistro in Rockland is definitely worth a stop!

                                      If you want to support lobster fishermen, visit Pt. Clyde. Local coop. Mostly owned by Linda Bean (as in LL) She's been dissed a lot ,but she has done a lot for local fisher people. Maine lobsters are branded as "Maine lobsters" No subsitutes

                                      -----
                                      Lily Bistro
                                      421 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841

                                      1. re: Frodnesor

                                        Very happy to see this thread! Some great recommendations on food as well as suggested site-seeing.

                                        Frodnesor, I went to Moody's about three years ago, and me, my husband and two daughters were very underwhelmed, in fact not one of us came close to eating half of our dinner. We were shocked as we stopped off there after reading a number of good reviews.
                                        Jordan Pond House is not to be missed. Memsahib is spot on with the popovers, and if you are bringing a dog, they will let well-behaved dogs sit under your table, if you sit outside. They will even bring over a bowl of water!
                                        Also, if you want a snack or quick bakery breakfast, Standard Baking (which I believe is part of the Fore Street group) is behind the restaurant and down one level. As I remember their raisin pecan bread and sticky rolls were very good.
                                        There are also rides on the Mail boat in both Casco Bay, leaving from Portland Harbor, and another that leaves somewhere in the vicinity of Southwest Harbor in Acadia. Ticket prices weren't that steep either.
                                        Based on the recommendations here I have put Duck Fat and Conte's on our itinerary!

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

                                        Duck Fat
                                        43 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101

                                        1. re: Frodnesor

                                          I have eaten at the Edge last year and the year before. I plan to eat there again this year. I have only 2 dinners in Camden. Although, I ate at Primo last year, and I did enjoy the food quite a bit, the food at the Edge is quite good, if not equal and the view is FABULOUS. You can look out over the green grounds and blue water the entire time you are dining (if you get there early enough). I sat there unitl it was dark - quite amazing. Although I enjoyed the food at Primo, there is equivalent food in many major cities, and I found the restaurant quite hectic - too crowded and too much bustle. I enjoyed my overall experience at Edge significantly more and would recommend it.

                                          1. re: FoodDivafromKahaluu

                                            FYI - new chef this season. I loved it in the past...haven't been yet this year...though I do plan on going.

                                            No more pizza night on Sundays either....which were always fun.

                                            1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                              Thanks for the FYI. Are there any reviews to-date? I'll be there the end of August, let me know your thoughts if you go, or know others, prior. Thanks again...

                                              1. re: FoodDivafromKahaluu

                                                Some friends of mine went the other night and the report is not a good one. Go for the view and the ambiance.

                                                1. re: Shooley

                                                  Agreed.

                                                  I first visited the Edge last summer with my wife, and we had a wonderful experience. The food, service and atmosphere were perfect.

                                                  My, what a difference a year makes. And boy, do I wish this particular thread had popped up before making our second visit to the Edge last week. Here's the blow-by-blow, from start to finish. Hope you don't mind the bullet-point format.

                                                  - The parking lot was full, and we had to park on the side of the road near the lot. Not a big deal by any means, but still fear-inducing when confronted with the possibility of a mad-rush sort of dining experience.

                                                  - No tablecloths on the tables. Last year, there were.

                                                  - The busgirl we had was very clumsy; she bumped into the table without excusing herself, forcefully put down our glasses of water and, when new diners appeared at the table next to us, *we* got their bread instead. (Watching a brief visage of doubt cast across the girl's face was worth the error.) And she refilled our water glasses far, far too often.

                                                  - No cocktail menu. Sometimes we feel like one, sometimes we don't. Last year we did and enjoyed some refreshing concoctions. This year we didn't even get a choice.

                                                  - The first bottle of wine we asked for was not available. Now, call me overly persnickety (go ahead, it won't be the first time), but this is a *major* faux pas. Especially when the wine list isn't lengthy (and this one wasn't). Then, adding insult to injury -- and for no clear reason -- our server informed us that our second selection was the last bottle of its kind. Well, lucky us...? Gosh.

                                                  - My appetizer was served, but not in tandem with my wife's. This is rarely a good sign, if only to indicate lack of experience. When nothing was said (nothing along the lines of "Yours is coming right up") and a few minutes went by, my wife flagged down our server and inquired about her appetizer.

                                                  The server had confused the appetizer order with a side of vegetables that we *hadn't* ordered. Though we did order one side, it wasn't the one she thought we ordered. More time went by -- I'm more than halfway through mine -- and my wife's comes out, finally. Server is apologetic, and we brush it off. We're now having fun with all the mistakes, though still missing what we had experienced last year.

                                                  - DInners served, and we get *both* sides. I think, why, she's giving us the mistaken side anyway, as a complimentary gesture for her mistake... Not quite -- we were charged for both. At that point I was perturbed, and took it out of her tip. It was the only thing to do, as she clearly didn't indicate she worked through her error.

                                                  - Another menu deletion: The dessert menu was recited, not printed. Sacre bleu! Yes, kidding -- sort of. Last year I had this amazing bacon-themed dessert that I am still talking about and drooling over. Bacon ice cream, bacon caramel candy, pig-shaped cookie... Oh, it was divine. And to now sit and hear about her creme brulee and strawberry-rhubarb pie and... sigh, it was disappointing.

                                                  Again, some might say I'm fussy (I don't, but I don't mind the accusation), but we so enjoyed our Edge meal last year that it was nearly impossible to overlook all the changes and drop-off in decor and service. When one experiences a certain ambiance and style, their sudden disappearance (so to speak; we don't live in ME) is glaringly obvious.

                                                  But, but -- the food *was* very good.

                                                  The lobster three ways and haddock were well done (though my wife's lobster dish did have its demerits; the risotto bland and not well matched with its drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette), and the crab cakes and cauliflower and rockets salad were good (though the crab cakes' accompanying slaw was nearly tasteless).

                                                  So, not quite as sublime as last time, but still very good.

                                                  Lastly, and this is certainly not the restaurant's fault, but some of my fellow diners were, well, kind of dopey, and they seemed far different from those who we dined alongside last year.

                                                  The view wasn't particularly good that night -- it was grey and misty -- but folks still insisted on walking in front of our table and snapping photos. Or sitting on their legs. Or talking too loudly. None of which occurred last year.

                                                  So it would seem that the Edge's decline is well-matched to the type of clientele now patronizing it (my wife and I excluded, natch). No offense intended, but I'm sure some may find that insulting. Yet, if you weren't there that night, you're off the hook!

                                                  1. re: Jeremiade

                                                    Unfortunate indeed. I hope people at least give it another shot...shoddy service absolutely sucks, but service can certainly be hit or miss anywhere...while a bad chef and bad food rarely improve. It at least sounds like the food is worthwhile.

                                                    Do they still have a bar menu? Having a few snacks with a few $2 20 oz drafts of Andrews beer was always divine.

                                                    Former chef Bryan Dame is now at some place in Kennebunkport...forget the name. Just google "Bryan Dame Maine".

                                                    As for the people there, that's also quite hit or miss. I doubt most of them were "locals", and with room prices at the Edge probably averaging...what...$300 a night, at least they are "well heeled" dopes. Likely of the Massachusetts variety...

                                                    1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                      Yes, the food was worthwhile. As for the bar menu, I don't know, as I didn't patronize the bar. And I've found that "well-heeled" doesn't always equal "well-behaved."

                                                      1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                        Hey, I'm from Mass. though I now live in Rockland...look out!

                                                        1. re: Shooley

                                                          We have something in common, I moved to Rockland from Boston 3 years ago!

                                                          1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                            FYI: Chef Brian Dame is now at The Tides Beach Club, Goose Rocks Beach, K'port (the Old Tides by the Sea, completely renovated and rejuvenated and updated and upscaled). Dined there in late June, excellent (but no Sunday night pizza menu).

                                          2. Fore Street does indeed set aside a couple tables for walk-ins. We found it easier to eat at the bar during Summer.

                                            1. I suppose one other limitation of having the kids with us is that while we enjoy eating at the bar, people generally (and understandably) don't usually welcome their presence there. I don't suppose either Fore Street or Street & Co. have a kitchen bar type setup?

                                              Let me throw a couple other Portland names out there ->
                                              Nosh Kitchen Bar - I like the concept; how's the execution?
                                              Boda - I know I said no ethnic, but I'm a bit intrigued by the street-food influenced Thai "tapas" selections.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                                Good point on bar vs kids - Street has a separate bar area that I think would work much better than Fore - take a peak inside and see what I mean. My old pal Pat did the iron-work.

                                                Nosh is excellent. Good layout for you I think - terrific food, but I know the BOH guys so I'll prop my peeps any day. I'd hit the house-made charcuterie.

                                                1. re: Frodnesor

                                                  I hear Boda is superb - mostly for it's authenticity. I'm told not to expect every-day Americanized Thai, so it's on my list.

                                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                                    It's not technically legal to let kids sit at the bar. From what I've seen, they can sit in the bar area at a table, but not at the bar itself.

                                                  2. Also consider The Corner Room in Portland (another one of Hardling Lee Smith's) just up the street from the Grill Room.

                                                    If you are going to be in Bar Harbor for 4 days, consider a stop in Ellsworh on the way in our out, or a trip off island. Cleonice uses local ingredients - menu varies weekly. Also consider breakfast at the Riverside Cafe or Martha's.

                                                    -----
                                                    Martha's Diner
                                                    151 High St, Ellsworth, ME 04605

                                                    Cleonice
                                                    112 Main St, Ellsworth, ME 04605

                                                    Riverside Cafe
                                                    151 Main St, Ellsworth, ME 04605

                                                    The Corner Room
                                                    110 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101

                                                    1. Both Fore Street and Street & Co. take walk-ins, in fact 1/3 of all seatings are set aside for that. Best way is to stop in as soon as they open, get your name on the list and you'll be given an idea of when a table will be ready. We've never failed to get seated at either establishment this way. Fore Street seems to fill every bar chair with diners. The Porthole is great, right on the working waterfront. Even if you don't eat there, be sure to pop into Harbor Fish in the red building across the alley, just to gaze at the beautiful bounty of fresh seafood.

                                                      I've been to Havana in Bar Harbor many, many times since it opened, in all seasons, and despite the name would never consider it a 'Cuban' restaurant. Some, but by no means all dishes are prepared with a Latin influence (ranging from Central to South America). It is hands down the best restaurant on MDI and the surrounding area, heavy on local food sources, innovative and unique, with very good service. Red Sky in Southwest Harbor is not far behind in food quality, atmosphere and service. Jordan Pond House shouldn't be missed; call ahead for a reservation, which isn't strictly a reservation but it will get you in ahead of walk-ins. Ask for patio seating if you want to drink wine/beer with your meal - alcohol is not permitted at the picnic tables on the lawn. The food is very decent, the popovers are to die for, and the hike around the "Pond" invigorating and beautiful. Red Bird is a lovely restaurant for both lunch and dinner and the food excellent. Love sitting at a candlelit outside table in the evening. Another idea if you're staying in NE Harbor is the Islesford Dock restaurant on Little Cranberry. Although the food can be inconsistent, it's a wonderful setting and your kids will enjoy it. A ferry runs from the town dock several times a day.

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

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

                                                      Red Sky
                                                      14 Clark Point Rd, Southwest Harbor, ME 04679

                                                      Islesford Dock Restaurant
                                                      Islesford Isl, Cranberry Isles, ME 04625

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Memsahib

                                                        Nice, well done.

                                                      2. I am here in tenants harbor now. We just went to Primo last week and found a 2nd bar added upstairs and a new tavern menu which was fantastic!!! Really great meal, and it wasn't even a meal, just plate after plate eaten at the bar. The salt cod fritters were amazing, farm egg pizza phenomenal, polenta, salumi.....lots of options beyond the traditional appetizer, entree, dessert route. We also visited the new Port Clyde Seafood Company in Camden. This was formerly the Dip Net in Port Clyde, and was just as great as it used to be, minus the dockside setting, and the lines out the door, as the Camden world has not discovered them yet. I second everyone who raved about In Good Company, just the most wonderful atmosphere and perfect food. A new cozy place has opened in Port Clyde called The Barn. It's only open a few afternoon/evenings a week, but the fish tacos are just great!!

                                                        1. I am pleased to report that last Friday night we got a "walk-in" table at Fore Street. We walked in around 5:30 and got an 8:30 table. It was well worth the effort (see my Maine Trip Report post). Killing a couple hours in the Old Port area is not tough at all.

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

                                                          Old Port Cafe
                                                          111 Main St, Winterport, ME 04496

                                                          1. The lobster roll at Red's in Wiscasset is not hype. It's one of the best around, and you get melted butter or mayo on the side - but only if you ask for it. Best idea is get them to go, as the "view" there is of Rte. 1.

                                                            Bar Harbor - Thirsty Whale for lunch. Galyan's, McKay's, and Poor Boys for dinner. Pizza from La Bella Vita @ the Harborside. Breakfast from 2 Cats.

                                                            Take a walk around Jordan Pond and then go for Popovers and Strawberry lemonade afterwards.

                                                            Boothbay - Lobster Dock. Better than the co-op.

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

                                                            Poor Boys
                                                            136 Rockingham Rd, Londonderry, NH 03053

                                                            2 Cats
                                                            130 Cottage St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

                                                            Thirsty Whale
                                                            40 Cottage St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

                                                            1. Haven't eaten much in portland. I'm from Wiscasset, but lived in NYC for a long time.
                                                              In wiscasset/rockland:
                                                              Reds eats really does have the best lobster roll and I like their fried fish. Clams are the whole ones, not just the strips. i used to like sea basket, but got a smelly haddock there once and was put off. Lobster dock just takes the overflow from red's eats, not so good on its own.
                                                              I also really like damariscotta river grill. Not on par with primos, but good, simple, in season dishes.
                                                              Primos is superb. I have no more words. I agree with Anthony Bourdain.
                                                              Amalfi's used to be a hole in the wall in rockland, then got big for their britches, and moved to a really big palce on the water. It's not as good as it used to be when it was tiny, has a more mass produced feel, but still not bad for dinner.
                                                              Love the rockland cafe. Great fried fish, good diner staples.
                                                              I also love in good company. Nice to sit, drink wine, and have what my dad and I call "olive fest".

                                                              1. Oh! and Bibo's madd apple cafe for brunch.

                                                                1. I may well be too late with this, but I was in Bar Harbor and Camden a few weeks ago, and have visited Portland a couple of times. I haven't seen much in the way of breakfast recommendations for you, so here are some.

                                                                  Our favorite for breakfast in Portland is Bintliff's. I've seen mixed reviews, which I don't get. We've always found them to be delicious and creative, with a lot to choose from. They do brunch every day.

                                                                  In Bar Harbor, we had terrific breakfasts at 2 Cats, and can highly recommend them. We also heard good things about Cafe This Way for breakfast, but didn't try them. We did eat dinner there, and enjoyed it. Avoid Cafe Bluefish for dinner, which we felt was overpriced with really inattentive service. Also, Ben & Bill's is where everyone goes for ice cream, and it's decent, but for more creative and interesting flavors, try Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream.

                                                                  I thought Camden was touristy and uninteresting as compared to Rockland. We found far more interesting shops in a browse down the main drag in Rockland. There's an awesome toy shop in Rockland that your kids might enjoy, but the name escapes me. We also ate breakfast twice at Home Kitchen Cafe in Rockland, which is about 18 months old, and quite good. Interesting menu, not quite standard diner fare, but you can get eggs and bacon if that's what you want.

                                                                  I waited 90 minutes in line for my Red's Eats lobster roll, and it was certainly tasty and overflowing with lobster, but it wasn't worth 90 minutes of waiting. Price was good, people were nice, but the wait was insane. If you chance upon a short line, try it. I got in line on the side, just beyond the eating area.

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

                                                                  Red's Eats
                                                                  Main, Wiscasset, ME 04578

                                                                  2 Cats
                                                                  130 Cottage St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                  1. re: booksherpa

                                                                    I can't believe anyone will wait 90 minutes for a lobster !! Insane !!
                                                                    The only place to wait 90 minutes is a EMERGENCY ROOM !!

                                                                    1. re: irwin

                                                                      Sounds like a good topic for a new post. What food(s) would you wait 90 minutes for? Locally, I might say the Pork Saltimbocca at Primo.

                                                                      1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                                                        Here Here !! MCM is spot on!!

                                                                      2. re: irwin

                                                                        Well, everyone praised Red's to high heaven, so I thought I'd give it 15 minutes to see how fast the line moved. I'd heard estimates of 45 minutes from folks who'd been there before, and after 15 minutes, 30 more didn't seem awful. 45 minutes in, I didn't realize it would be ANOTHER 45 minutes, and I didn't want to waste the time I'd already spent. In retrospect, I should have just skipped it, but I wanted that quintessential Maine tourist experience. Next time, I'd get it for breakfast - if the line was short. :)

                                                                        1. re: booksherpa

                                                                          We went by Red's at least twice when we were in the area last week and the line was at least 20-30 people deep. On one of the drive-bys, the line had formed before the place was even open.

                                                                          I would love for someone to do a blind taste-test of the lobster roll at Red's and at Sprague's right across the street. If I'd had the patience, would have done so myself - sorry I could not sacrificce a half-hour (or perhaps 90 minutes) in the interest of science.

                                                                          Frankly it seems more than a bit ridiculous to me.

                                                                          1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                            Sprague's is a decent alternative, but the lobster rolls are better at Red's.

                                                                            1. re: steve999

                                                                              How do area people feel about Red's? Have you ever waited in line for miles to get through Wiscasset?

                                                                              1. re: harry_sparrow

                                                                                I've repeatedly said on CH that, while very good, the lobster rolls @Red's are not worth standing in those lines for. During Summer I've learned to change my coastal routing to avoid the traffic through Wiscasset (not solely due to Red's).

                                                                                1. re: HDinCentralME

                                                                                  Agreed, HD. It's also soooo easy to make your own lobber roll and get a feeling of "great" accomplishment. Give me Tracy's in Sullivan. Two lobster rolls for 12 bucks and BYOB seating inside.
                                                                                  Lobber rolls & brew, the way life should be...

                                                                    2. Many thanks to all who gave advice and suggestions. We got back from our trip last week, and did some very nice eating throughout Maine. I'm starting to plow back through my notes and receipts to gather my thoughts, have done so already on a couple starting in Portland ->

                                                                      Fore Street
                                                                      http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/20...
                                                                      Street and Co.
                                                                      http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/20...

                                                                      Fore Street was sort of love at first sight. It's the kind of place I could happily be a regular if I lived anywhere close. On most travels I wouldn't be likely to go another night to a restaurant in the same "family," but was so pleased that we went to Street and Co. the following night. While some things were excellent (the oysters in particular, some of the best I've had anywhere), the pasta dishes (and we ordered two) were unappealingly sloppy, just drowning in butter (and trust me, I like butter).

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

                                                                      1. A few more detailed recaps on a few more places we visited ->

                                                                        Duckfat (Portland) - yeah, those fries are pretty awesome. So was the pork belly panino.
                                                                        http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/20...

                                                                        Squire Tarbox Inn (Westport Island) - lovely organic farm, nice breakfast, decent dinner.
                                                                        http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/20...

                                                                        Solo Bistro (Bath) - nice use of local ingredients here, was recommended to us at Squire Tarbox (and uses their produce).
                                                                        http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/20...

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Solo Bistro
                                                                        130 Front St., Bath, ME 04530