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Trip to Maine Oct '10 need restaurant tips for Bar Harbor, Camden & Portland areas

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I have always visited Chowhound when travelling and have just signed up officially so that I can participate in the conversations.

We are planning a "reconnaisance mission" to Maine in the first half of October. We have reserved for 3 nights in Bar Harbor, 3 nights in the Camden /Lincolnville area and 3 nights in the Portland area (Scarborough). We love to eat and travel and we are interested in knowing about the "must trys" in these 3 areas. We will pay the big bucks for a great dining experience - alternatively, we love the dives also. Dinner is our most important meal as we will be driving hither and yon during the day trying to sight see and identify a community in which to possibly rent a home for next summer.......we would like to know about great restaurants, food markets, and farmers markets. We will drive some distance for a great meal.

We had hoped to visit in September but surprisingly had trouble bookings rooms - evidently September is a great month there but many hotels/inns could not accomodate us. So,October it is.

If any of you can weigh in on this, we would appreciate it. There is a lot to research but I will certainly review any previous discussions on this topic that are recent (2010)........

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  1. Glad you're coming to check out great Maine food. You might get more of a response from the local 'hounds if you review, as you suggested, the many recent posts on your three locations, and then put up a possible list for comment.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mainemal

      Thanks for that - I am new to this so I am probably not doing it just right.....can't wait for Maine!

    2. Here's a good list of options in Ellsworth:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/714154

      We were there last weekend and had a great breakfast at Martha's. I had the crab benedict - near perfect, the english muffin could have used a bit more toasting. Uncle had Spinach & Feta "quiche" and DH had crabmeat "quiche" I put that in quotes because it's more like a bake - HUGE thick square pieces. Many blackboard specials. I just wish their coffee was stronger. Service is Downeast friendly, sort of like you are going to a relative's house.

      2 Replies
      1. re: delong99

        Thanks - that all sounds good - where exactly is Ellsworth?

        1. re: 2mel

          You have to drive through Ellsworth to get to Bar Harbor. Depending on traffic, it's a 20-25 minute drive.

      2. Havana and Stewman's are both great places to dine for good local seafood and steaks in Bar Harbor. The Front Room in Portland is oustanding for dinner.

        Havana @ 318 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME 207 - 288 - 2822.
        http://www.havanamaine.com/
        Stewman's Lobster Pound @ 123 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, ME 207 - 288 - 9723.
        http://www.stewmanslobsterpound.com/

        The Front Room Restaurant and Bar @ 73 Congress St., Portland, ME 207 - 773 - 3366.
        http://www.thefrontroomrestaurant.com/

        9 Replies
        1. re: Littleman

          For Bar Harbor, if you are visiting the Bass Harbor lighthouse (great sunset view, by the way), then I would recommend heading to Thurston's lobster pound for dinner after. We tried both Thurston's and Trenton's Lobster Pound and preferred Thurston's -- the meat seemed sweeter. Not sure when in Oct you are visiting but you should call or find out when they shut down for the season.

          Also, if you are taking Rt. 1 on your way from Portland to Camden, definitely stop by Red's in Wiscasset for their lobster rolls. We tried several on our trip (Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery, Sea Basket in Wiscasset) and thought Red's was best by far. A ton of meat (they claim more than one lobster in each roll). The wait can be a bit much sometimes but hopefully it'll slow down in Oct.

          1. re: juicymango

            Also on Rt 1 a few towns past Wiscasset in Waldonboro is Moody's diner. Stop in for pie -- the 4-berry and the strawberry rhubarb are some of the best I've ever had. If you do go through Wiscasset, plan on lots of traffic -- that stretch over the bridge is one of New England's worst choke points. I think Yankee magazine even wrote an article on it recently.

            1. re: bpjacks

              I have heard about Moody's and it is on our list - we love strawberry rhubarb pie. The warning about the traffic is great - I have to buy an atlas to map out our route and have some alternatives lined up for traffic.....evidently there is a really good atlas that everyone uses in Maine but I can't recall what the name of it is.....

              1. re: 2mel

                This has nothing to do with food...well maybe helping you find it...but the map is called Maine Atlas and Gazetteer. It's available in many local bookstores and online via DeLorme map publishers.

                1. re: 2mel

                  The coconut cream pie is also amazing if you have room!

              2. re: juicymango

                Funny you should mention Bob's - I was watching Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives just a few nights ago and he featured Bob's on the show.......I will definitely call and check on when these places close for the season - thanks for all of the info.

                1. re: juicymango

                  i second Red's... but he closes in Sept for the season. :/ which makes me MUCHO sad because i'm headed up to maine this weekend. :/
                  i also second Moody's for pie - YUMMM!
                  Don't forget Sarah's in wiscasset... best haddock chowdah around!

                  1. re: ldylara

                    Red's was still open Monday when I drived by on my way home.

                2. re: Littleman

                  Thanks so much - really have very little on Bar Harbor so this is most helpful and local seafood is very appealing - we are not big meat eaters.

                3. Burning Tree just outside of Bar Harbor in Otter Creek is wonderful. They use veggies from their gardens around the restaurant and their menu is eclectic and lots of fun. Perfect if you are looking to move beyond lobster and clam chowder. We also ate at Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound; it was OK. On the way home we stopped at Larson's Lunch Box in Damariscotta was a fun stop with yummy stuffed lobster rolls.
                  If you are looking for picnic food then stop in the Pine Tree Market in Northeast Harbor. They have a great selection of cheese, breads, salads etc. Full Belli Deli in Northeast Harbor makes a great pizza. Cafe This Way in Bar Harbor for breakfast or dinner. Check out Southwest Harbor also. There is a great wine and cheese store there. Have Fun.

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

                  Burning Tree Restaurant
                  69 Otter Creek Dr, Mount Desert, ME 04660

                  Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound
                  1237 Bar Harbor Rd, Trenton, ME 04605

                  Larson's Lunch Box
                  430 Main St, Damariscotta, ME 04543

                  Full Belli Deli
                  5 Sea St, Castine, ME 04421

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: freshveggie

                    Thanks so much for the info - the Bar Harbor area is our first stop!

                    1. re: freshveggie

                      I think I saw a recent very positive review of Burning Tree, which indicated that they would be closing by this coming weekend, so do check to see if they're open. I second any and all recommendations of Mache Bistro in BH.

                      -----
                      Burning Tree Restaurant
                      69 Otter Creek Dr, Mount Desert, ME 04660

                      1. re: mainemal

                        Sadly, the Burning Tree will be closed - thanks for the heads up on that . We are booked at Mache Bistro and looking forward to it.

                        -----
                        Burning Tree Restaurant
                        69 Otter Creek Dr, Mount Desert, ME 04660

                    2. Coveside Restaurant and Marina
                      104 Coveside Rd.
                      South Bristol, Maine 04568
                      (207) 644-8282
                      *inside and outside seating, lovely fresh seafood, water views and friendly staff.

                      1. Many MDI and coastal tourist oriented lobster places may very well be closed for the season by Oct. Trenton Bridge will be only open weekends, if at all. Normally I'd say avoid Bob's. Many locals view it as a tourist trap, but considering the time of year, go for it. Veggie is spot on w/ Burning Tree. Maggies is also fine, as well as Mache Bistro and they will be open.For fine dineing you may want to go to Blue Hill to Arbor Vine, The Forge or The Table. Jordan's snack bar in Ellsworth will be open for fried seafood and it's BYOB. If all else fails, try The Thirsty Whale in BH.
                        Remember, the local supermarkets will cook lobsters for you for free and w/ some slaw/spud salad and a bottle of wine, you have a fine picnic.
                        Red Sky in SW Hbr. and if you want to slum it give Captain Nemo's in Benard a try.
                        Lastly, The College of the Atlantic serves fine organic fare and is open to the public.
                        Have fun. I'm missing a lobster roll about now.

                        -----
                        Burning Tree Restaurant
                        69 Otter Creek Dr, Mount Desert, ME 04660

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

                        Thirsty Whale
                        40 Cottage St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

                        1. We just got back from a trip that was partially to yours. We did not stay in Bar Harbor, we stayed in SW Harbor and loved staying in that area. We also stayed in Rockport but would not recommend that motel. For eating, we ate at Jordans Snack Bar in Ellsworth and Ruth and Wimpey's in Hancock. Very close to each other. Had a large order of fried clams at Jordans, wonderful experience. Had two lobsters, steamed clams, salad and an ear of corn at Ruth and Wimpeys. (about $25) just us and the locals- I will be back to both places. We also ate at a restaurant in SW Harbor called the Seafood Ketch and that was fine for a tourist restaurant. Had an overpriced lobster there - we were too tired to drive any farther that night.
                          In Rockland, we did the "No reservations" tour. First we ate at Conte's and while I would have to agree that some might not find the ambience to their the taste, I found it a place I would not miss. There is no sign outside the restaurant so you need to know where you are going. Without going into the details, it was quite an experience. I had a half lobster, a dozen large scallops and a dozen large shrimp over a mountain of linguini with salad and bread for $24. To get an idea of the "ambience", after we finished our main courses the "waiter" said "I would like to offer you some dessert, but we dont have any". Which was just fine. I read in various postings some bad things about this place, but I found it to be a very clean and freindly place. We also had dinner at Primo. We had not planned on it, but we were passing it by one day and my wife went in to see if we could get a reservation for the following night, which was no problem. It was really fabulous and not at all expensive for what we got. She had the "wild boar chop" and I had risotto. I had a rabbit tenderloin wrapped in pancetta for an appetizer and it was big enough for a main course from what I had seen at other places.We both had dessert and cappacino. Total food bill three courses for two about $110.
                          For lunch that day, we had hot dogs at Wasses in Rockland. AWESOME.
                          Have a great trip

                          -----
                          Seafood Ketch
                          McMullin Ave, Bass Harbor, ME 04653

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: thespiritualmidget

                            Thanks for all of those great tips. I think I am organized now for our meals - in Bar Harbor we are doing Galyn's and Mache Bistro, in the Camden area we are doing Primo, Francine and The Edge and in the Portland area we are doing Fore Street and the White Barn. Lunches are going to be catch as catch can, as we will be sightseeing - hopefully lots of great lobster rolls, fried clams and chowder. We are so excited!

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

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

                            1. re: 2mel

                              May I humbly suggest Maggies you substitute for Galyn's, if Maggies is still open. Galyn's is very nice, but nothing out of the extraordinary. The lobster crepe at Maggies is memorable.

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

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                We just returned from Bar Harbor. For our meals out we went to Maggie's and Thurston's. The lobster at Thurston's was superb, beautifully sweet and delicious. Unfortunately they are now closed for the season as Sunday was their last night. I don't find the sides there to be anything special, although the cole slaw is definitely passable.

                                Maggie's was great and I will agree with Passadumkeg that the lobster crepes are memorable. In general the food at Maggies was very good as was the service. I did find the preparations to be a bit heavy, at least on the dishes we ordered - the other dish we ordered was the mussels with pasta dinner. The other fish dishes on the menu didn't really excite me since I make similar food at home. If you are looking for a lighter option on the seafood, I would say that Galyn's might be a better choice. Their preparations tend to be rather simple and the quality is good. Nothing out of the extraordinary but reliably good.

                                On the return we stopped at Harraseeket in So. Freeport, which was a great end to our trip. The haddock sandwich was outstanding - and the lobster not bad either, although not as good as the 1.7 lb'er at Thurston. Unfortunately Harraseeket is now closed for the season too.

                                We did also make it to Ruth and Wimpy's, which I found to be fine for lunch, but nothing terribly outstanding. The fiberglass lobster in front was an interesting sight and my 3-year old daughter was quite impressed. I had the lobster roll there, but found it to be a little heavy on the mayo.

                                1. re: Highland Park

                                  Lobster is the ONLY thing to get at R&W's, well maybe the fresh fruit pies.

                                2. re: Passadumkeg

                                  I second that; I'd skip Galyn's and eat at Maggie's which we loved. I love the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, the best one, IMO. For good every day, non touristy atmosphere and bar food, I also like the Thirsty whale. We liked Burning Tree, but not Town Hill Bistro, very overrated, IMO.

                                  -----
                                  Burning Tree Restaurant
                                  69 Otter Creek Dr, Mount Desert, ME 04660

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

                                  Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound
                                  1237 Bar Harbor Rd, Trenton, ME 04605

                                3. re: 2mel

                                  Now this is funny; my two suggestions were going to be Fore Street in Portland and the White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport! I love them both...enjoy!

                                  -----
                                  The White Barn Inn
                                  37 Beach Avenue, Kennebunk Beach, ME 04043

                                  Fore Street
                                  288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

                                  1. re: 2mel

                                    Sounds great, and we'll be looking forward to your reviews.

                                4. In the Camden area, hit Francine in Camden or Shepherd's Pie in Rockport.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: christmasgorilla

                                    Second Shepard's Pie. Great bang for your buck.