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Driving from NYC to Kennebunkport, ME in May

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1) My husband and I are driving from NYC to Kennebunkport to celebrate our 11th anniversary: CT-15 > i-84 > i-495 > 1-95. I'd love some recommendations for lunch, midway through our trip. I'd say that puts us around Sturbridge or Worcester, MA. Nothing fancy, just good eats.

2) I need some tasty places around Kennebunkport. We're there for 3 nights. Would you recommend the following:

Lobster shack: Nunan's Lobster Hut or Clam Shack?
Anniversary dinner: White Barn Inn or Arrows Restaurant?
Clam chowder: ???

Any other dinner/lunch/snack suggestions? We're up for any price range and be interested in trying any local dishes. High/low cost, doesn't matter - so as long as the food is on par with what it should cost.

3) We're also planning a quick drive up to Freeport to visit LL Bean mecca. Any MUST stops for lunch/snack places in Portland? I just read it was voted Foodiest Small Town in America by Bon Appetit in 2009 (I know, a couple years late!) .

Thanks in advance!

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

Clam Shack
2 Western Ave, Kennebunk, ME 04043

Nunan's Lobster Hut
Mills Rd, Kennebunkport, ME 04046

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  1. Nunan's is a sit-down, table-service restaurant; Clam Shack is a road-side stand with a few benches outside. You basically eat in a parking area. Nunan's isn't cheap, but Clam Shack is a rip-off.

    I recommend Cape Pier Chowder House in Cape Porpoise, which is part of Kennebunkport. It's on the water, and you can eat inside or out. BYOB policy. Nice view of light house and pretty area. Also suggest Arundel Wharf, down the road a few feet off Dock Square in Kbport. Indoor or outdoor. They serve a "lighter", less expensive menu in the time between lunch and dinner. I've always enjoyed Mabel's, too. Cape Porpoise Kitchen, which you'll pass on your left as you drive from Kbport to Cape Porpoise Chowder House, has yummy homemade cookies and great coffee, good sandwiches; two tables and small counter. Employees tend to be indifferent and aloof. Lucas on 9 is good, too, for sit-down. Large portions and reasonable prices for the area.

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    Arundel Wharf Restaurant
    43 Ocean Ave, Kennebunkport, ME 04046

    7 Replies
    1. re: IWantFood

      Thanks for the intel, IWantFood. I'll definitely avoid Clam Shack and since it sounds like there are tons of tasty places, it isn't necessary to put up with indifferent service.

      1. re: IWantFood

        In a different thread, you mention Cape Pier Chowder House, as a child-friendly establishment. Are there any places you'd recommend for foodies, as non child-friendly restaurants? Since we're thinking of this weekend as a romantic getaway, crying babies in restaurants tend to spoil the mood.

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        Chowder House
        RR 16, North Conway, NH 03860

        1. re: fromNYCto

          Cape Pier CH is child-friendly in that it's casual. I can't say I've ever encountered hordes of children or really any children to speak of in any restaurant during the off-season (summer is a different story). Bandaloop in Kbport might fit your bill (menu on Web site) in that it's not as run-of-the-mill for the area. There's the York Harbor Inn in York, which is traditional, old-school dining. Some may say it's stodgy and not cheap, but I've never had a bad experience there. The upstairs dining room is more formal that the cellar pub, and children don't run around in there. Their early-bird special (3 course meal) is a huge amount of food (traditionally prepared dishes, for the most part) for the price. Tasty and solid, with tablecloths and linen napkins, but if you're looking for a truly exotic food experience, you probably won't find it in this area.

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          Bandaloop
          2 Ocean Ave, Kennebunkport, ME 04046

          York Harbor Inn
          Coastal Route 1A, York Harbor, ME 03911

          1. re: IWantFood

            What I'm looking for is great, solid food. By foodie, I don't mean exotic or food that tries to have a wow factor. More often than not, there isn't wow but disappointment. I'd gladly pay $30 for an outstanding hamburger but if the best one in town costs $4, let me know where that establishment is! Volume also isn't a priority. I can always order another dish, if I'm still hungry or get an extra dessert. All I'm looking for is, if you've only got a couple days to eat well, preferably without ill-behaved children (but this too isnt a make or break factor), where would you go?

            1. re: fromNYCto

              I would go to Mabel's on Ocean Ave. in Kennebunkport. Love the clam chowder; the mussels (either marinara or with garlic and butter) are the best, most tender, and meatiest in the area, IMO; delicious broiled sole; Duke and Duchess also yummy. You can see the menu on their Web site. If you're interested in dessert, the peanut butter ice cream pie is different and good, but very rich. Make sure you love peanut butter. They open for dinner at 5 PM. Go early to get a table.

        2. re: IWantFood

          I am not sure if you when you are going to Maine, but I strongly recommend The Clam Shack in Kennebunk at the bridge to Kennebunkport. Best fried clams I have ever had, and I have tried them in many places. Also excellent fried shrimp and scallops and lobster roll. Yes, it is just a shack, and you sit on benches to eat, but I think that just adds to the charm. We go to Maine several times a year and go to The Clam Shack every time. It is not where I would go for an anniversary dinner, but is wonderful if you want great food. I do not think you get fresher seafood anywhere.

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          Clam Shack
          2 Western Ave, Kennebunk, ME 04043

          1. re: oceans

            We already went but we had such a good time, we're thinking of going back in the fall. We walked by The Clam Shack - and now it's going on the list! Thanks!

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            Clam Shack
            2 Western Ave, Kennebunk, ME 04043

        3. I just learned about BT's Smokehouse in Sturbridge...unbelievable BBQ, well worth the stop. And it's close to the highway, the last exit before the tolls, but I'd go again even if it was out of the way! I like Wild Willie's in Worcester for a good burger. Worcester has a few coffee shops if you need some by that time (but I always use the Starbucks at exit 16 for the convenience). Oh, and there is a Pilot gas station right over the MA border that has REALLY good prices, so plan on a fill-up there ;).

          There are so many general Portland threads on here already, so there isn't much new to add, but I loved the Standard Baking Co!

          Have a great trip!

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          Standard Baking Co
          75 Commercial St, Portland, ME

          3 Replies
          1. re: solargarlic

            I saw Wild Willie's as an option on Zagat but didn't see BT's Smokehouse. I'll give my husband the option and see which one he's leaning toward when we get into the area. And thanks for the gas station suggestion - especially now that gas is getting so expensive!

            1. re: fromNYCto

              I've been to a lot of different places and I'd say BT Smokehouse is about as good as it gets for BBQ anywhere in New England.

              1. re: Msample

                Yeah, I can't remember the last time I had brisket that wasn't dry!

          2. Haven't tried Arrows, but I have been to The White Barn Inn & it was nice. VERY formal & quiet - beautiful room - but the food didn't live up to what I expected. It was good - but for that money, I wanted it to be as memorable as the whole experience was. Nice place to celebrate something big (we had our 1st wedding anniversary there), & the service is outstanding.
            On the other hand, I'd recommend On The Marsh - GREAT food & atmosphere. It's formal without being stuffy, & the service is also good.
            http://onthemarsh.com/
            Another side trip you might want to make is to Ogunquit - you could have lunch or dinner at MC Perkins Cove, which is a sister restaurant of Arrows. The views are amazing, & the food is good too. Plus, you can take a walk on the Marginal, which is very pretty.
            http://mcperkinscove.com/index.cfm

            2 Replies
            1. re: southie_chick

              After your comments, we've rethought the anniversary dinner and decided on a bit less stuffy. Not that we don't want a fun, decadent night out but I'd be really disappointed if our anniversary meal was less than perfect, if we're going to be paying beaucoup dollars. On the Marsh sounds terrific and MC Perkins Cove might be the place to stop for lunch on our way to Freeport. Thanks!

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              On the Marsh
              46 Western Ave, Kennebunk, ME 04043

              1. re: fromNYCto

                Glad to be of help - hope you enjoy On The Marsh for your anniversary! Make sure you call a couple of days out for a reservation - it's not that big a place. My hubby likes it so much that we've gone there for our past 3 anniversaries. You can still dress up (it's one of the few times a year I put on a dress) but you don't have to be as formal at going to The White Barn or Arrows. If you like mussels, theirs are outstanding! We usually order the Dutch apple Bolen for desert too - it's like a baked apple wrapped up in a pastry crust. By the way, those are always on the menu - they do change the menu a lot but those they never take off. And, if you like any of the decorations/furniture/paintings there, they'll sell them too you (the owner runs- or used to run - an antique business).
                MC's is good to - and it has the nicest view of the ocean from their dining room. Haven't been there for lunch yet - we've only gone for dinner - so I really can't give you a "heads up" what to order. I do know they have a lobster roll on the bar menu, & I do think they have that on their lunch menu too.

            2. I've had a very nice meal at Bandaloop in Kennebunkport. Not in the Arrows or White Barn Inn league (Arrows has been getting some not-too-great reviews on this site lately) but not nearly as formal either (both are about as formal as you'll get in Maine). No need for a jacket, and a great location by Dock Square.

              As a die-hard Portland hound (we're probably STILL the foodiest Small Town around - it just wouldn't be fair to keep naming us year after year), I would have to say that the one most often mentioned place for lunch is Duck Fat on Middle St. Great duck fat fries and the best shakes. There are so many places... I would also recommend J's Oyster on the waterfront in the Old Port - just a couple of blocks from Duck Fat. You can get better food and probably better oysters but the place is classic Portland. You can find yourself comfortably sitting at the bar between a lobsterman and a lawyer and no one is out of place. Oysters and a beer or two is the way to go here (drink something local).

              In Freeport, I tend to take people to Harraseeket Lunch in South Freeport. Another lobster shack but on one of the prettier harbors you'll find. Every place in Freeport caters to tourists - Harraseeket does too, just not as overtly.

              .

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

              Bandaloop
              2 Ocean Ave, Kennebunkport, ME 04046

              Harraseeket Lunch
              36 Main St South, Freeport, ME

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

              Old Port Cafe
              111 Main St, Winterport, ME 04496

              Duck Fat
              43 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101

              1 Reply
              1. re: bobbert

                Steamers are better than oysters at J's IMHO. You can search through previous threads for details.

              2. As a resident of Kennebunkport, I'd suggest Old Vines Wine Bar as a definite place to hit. They are no longer just a wine bar, as they now have a full bar (Scott makes some great mix drinks). Plus their food which is more tapas style is also very good. Depending how warm it is when you are here, they now have outdoor seating. Hurricanes and Bandaloop are 2 quality restaurants as well. The Pilot House is great on Friday nights if you want a good fish fry. If you drive over to Cape Porpoise I'd recommend The Ramp as a great place to eat lunch with a view of the water. As someone mentioned with Nunan's it is a dine in restaurant that doesn't take reservations and is cash only. It is no frills for example 2 lobsters with chips, roll and pickle slices for $25. Hope that helps!

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                Bandaloop
                2 Ocean Ave, Kennebunkport, ME 04046

                1. I concur with the Old Vines recommendation. Great for wine & snacks. Cheese selection is best around. WBI in my opinion stands alone, they set the standard for dining in Maine. Everything is always perfect, Yes, very formal, but never is anything overlooked. One recommendation I would make for Kbunk is a new restaurant, 50 Local. Very fresh, modern, and simply delicious food. They source locally and the chef knows what he is doing. Their cocktails are always creative & seasonal too. They are new over the last year, but really know how to do it.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: suziequeue

                    Thanks for the recommendations! We already came and went but we had such a good time, we're thinking of coming back up in the fall. I don't think there's a shortage of tasty up there.

                    1. re: fromNYCto

                      And you're not going to tell us where you ate?

                      1. re: IWantFood

                        Oops! Here's the list. We had such a good time, we are definitely thinking of going back in October. I see it as an opportunity to eat at some of the places we didn't hit. We stayed at Hidden Pond - fabulous place. Great hospitality. The thing that really was the clincher for us was the bread basket that showed up every morning on our porch. A thermos full of hot coffee, warm bread, muffins, jams and the NY Times. So, breakfasts were taken care of.

                        Thursday night, Lucas on 9: clam chowder, really great lobster stew, mixed seafood penne, baked stuffed haddock
                        Friday lunch, Duck Fat: delicious fries - not too skinny, not too fat, meatloaf sandwich, pork terrine
                        Friday dinner, Street & Co.: bread salad, mahogany clams, sole francaise, lobster/pasta
                        Saturday lunch, Mabel's: crab roll and lobster roll. Too stuffed to try the PB pie - next time!
                        Saturday dinner, Nunan's: Since it was pre-season, we had no problems getting a table. Really sweet lobster. They were having a special of 2 1-1/4 LBS lobsters (per person) for $28
                        Sunday brunch, MC Perkins Cove: wedge salad w/ spicy glazed pecans, white pizza with clams, shrimp salad. Fabulous. They were there promoting the cookbook so they were actually serving some of the dishes from the book. Ended up buying it for myself and my mother-in-law.
                        Back in NYC: diet! ;)

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

                        Duck Fat
                        43 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101

                        1. re: fromNYCto

                          IF you do come back, give the Midcoast a try...you know...mix it up! Especially if around fall foliage time...

                          1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                            Thanks for the suggestion! Are there any notable places you'd suggest I try? I'm always compiling a list!

                            1. re: fromNYCto

                              Tons! And many threads on the great Midcoast restaurants on Chowhound already. Base yourself in the Camden/Rockport/Rockland area, and you'll easily fill a week with great dining.

                              Start at Primo, and go from there:
                              http://www.primorestaurant.com/
                              http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows...