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Aug 3, 2011 05:00 PM

Washington County Maine in Mid-September--Advice Please!

Just starting to put together our itinerary....we'll be downeast for around four days, Thursday thru Saturday. Neither of us has ever been farther east than Ellsworth before, so it is all new to us, is there anything we shouldn't miss?

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  1. The Pickled Herring in Eastport I have heard is very nice. Try the Waco Diner, also in Easport, for breakfast. There's always Helen's in Machias. Maybe stick with lobster and blueberries, aside from that.

    Pickled Herring
    32 Water St, Eastport, ME 04631

    Waco Diner
    47 Water St, Eastport, ME 04631

    6 Replies
    1. re: rockblogsterbdn

      I've also heard good things about Pickled Herring, but it's a long way to Eastport! I'd skip Helens, which is pretty ordinary, but I heard from a chef friend who ate last week at the Riverside Inn in East Machias, which I've enjoyed in the past, that it's still very good and worth a trip.

      Riverside Inn & Restaurant
      US Route 1, East MacHias, ME 04630

      Pickled Herring
      32 Water St, Eastport, ME 04631

      1. re: mainemal

        thanks for the ideas. usually our trips are very food centric, but this time less so, therefore any info on places that offer simple/straightforward but do that well (good fresh ingredients, cooked properly and to order etc) would be much appreciated. searching the boards, most of what i found for downeast was really old, so not sure how accurate the contents are.

      2. re: rockblogsterbdn

        Pickled Herring's menu on their website looks pretty ordinary and rather pricey. I've been hearing not-so-good things about the WaCo Diner, but I liked it a couple of years ago. Do skip Helen's except for pie. Bluebird Ranch is swell.

        Pickled Herring
        32 Water St, Eastport, ME 04631

        1. re: lifeasbinge

          Not to contradict, but had good friends who are very savvy eaters who ate there last month and loved it.

          1. re: mainemal

            which Pickled Herring or WaCo diner or Helen's?

            We leave tomorrow, first night in Portland then straight through to Lubec for Thurs & Fri, the back track to Blue Hill for Sat & maybe Sun, or possible Portland again for Sun.....
            Any last minute recc's for the Lubec area, or en-route between Ellsworth/Bangor & Lubec are much appreciated. Thanks all.

            Pickled Herring
            32 Water St, Eastport, ME 04631

            1. re: qianning

              Fisherman's Wife, Milbridge (between Ellsworth and Lubec, on Route 1A downtown, across from church, behind real estate agency, before going over bridge. Cute little cafe. Cheap. Good Maine fare.

      3. I have some Washington County/Downeast recommendations which are on my "need to try" list based on internet research. These restaurants sound very intriguing, but it's hard to say for sure how good these places are without firsthand experience. Not to mention, my list was compiled from a handful of scattered (but promising) internet posts I found here and there.

        In other words, the places listed below definitely sound chow-worthy, with the caveat that there's a little bit of uncertainty. *If you do end up trying any of these, please report back and tell us what you think!*

        In no particular order:

        1) The Kilby House Inn
        122 Water Street, Eastport
        (207) 853-0989
        Quaint bed-and-breakfast inn in a historic restored Queen Anne house. Supposedly serves one of the top breakfasts in the area (the French toast seems to be especially great). There are five bedrooms in the house, which range from $55-$85/night. Has water views of the nearby bay. In short, seems like a great deal; if I make it up to the Downeast region during my upcoming trip to Maine, I will definitely look to stay at this place.

        2) Quoddy Bay Lobster
        7 Sea Street, Eastport
        (207) 853-6640
        Lobster shack and wholesale/retail seafood market that's located right next to a working pier. Apparently open from mid-May through mid-October, but call in advance to verify their days and hours of operation. They buy their lobsters directly from the local fishermen. Recommended dishes include steamed lobster, lobster roll, clam roll, scallop roll, pan-seared haddock sandwich, fish chowder, and French onion soup, among other things.

        3) Crossroads Restaurant & Motel
        Little Falls Road at River Road (a.k.a. U.S. Route 1 South), Pembroke
        (207) 726-5053
        Seafood and breakfast restaurant that is apparently considered one of the top restaurants in the entire Downeast region. Located right next to a scenic reversing waterfall. Recommended dishes include fried clams (supposed to be contender for best in Maine; they're shucked one hour before frying and served with homemade tartar sauce); lobster roll; lobster stew (filled with large chunks of lobster); blueberry pie (again, supposed to be some of the best anywhere); fresh-cut fries. very old post from 2001

        4) The Bluebird Ranch
        78 Main Street (a.k.a. U.S. Route 1 South), Machias
        (207) 255-3351
        Casual family restaurant known for great pies, breakfast, and especially clam chowder (supposedly among the best anywhere). The fresh wild blueberry one-crust pie topped with homemade whipped cream is supposed to be excellent (not sure if it's available outside of wild blueberry season). They're also reputed to have good homemade corned beef hash, wild blueberry pancakes, French toast, homemade onion rings, homemade cookies, and homemade breads and jams.

        5) Hatch Knoll Farm
        29 Hatch Knoll Road, Jonesboro
        (207) 434-2674
        Farm with a wild blueberry field where you can pick your own berries or buy a batch that's already been picked. Not sure if blueberries will be available in mid-September, but if not, they carry a bunch of other fruits depending on the season. Definitely call in advance to see what they have. This is the one place on the list that I've actually visited.

        2 Replies
        1. re: italianices

          Stoppped at Quoddy Bay Lobster yesterday, and bought some fish to take home. It was a raw day, so we didn't stay (have to eat outside) but definitely thought the items on the menu looked worthwhile, including "lobster cakes" [clearly a local version of crab cakes, since it's also on the menu at Pickled Herring].

          Pickled Herring
          32 Water St, Eastport, ME 04631

          1. re: italianices

            Great! Will report back on the places we try.

          2. East of Ellsworth, but not by much: Chippers (love it) and Le Domaine (mais oui), in Hancock; Chester Pike's in Sullivan, for the BEST fried fish and homemade desserts; Fisherman's Inn, in Winter Harbor, for fresh fare with (sometimes) an Asian twist reflecting the owner's regular trips to Thailand; Bunker's Wharf, just reopened on the Schoodic Peninsula in Birch Harbor; Kitchen Garden, in Steuben (just reopened, YAY!).

            If you're in the neighborhood on a Monday night, head to Tidal Falls, where Carl, the chef/owner of Fisherman's brings his lobster roll ($10)/hot dog ($2.50) cart for the summer music series--good value, excellent sauces. Also, the Winter Harbor Farmers Market on Tuesday mornings is fabulous. I was just there--fresh foods, produce, prepared foods (Indian!), and much more. If you're heading into the park, pick up sandwiches at Harbour Girl (combo soap/lotion store and deli--hey, it's Down East Maine, and it works!).

            If you venture down the scenic Blackwoods byway (do it!), there's a decent pizza spot in Franklin, Maple Knoll, tiny, but decent (Buzzy Giola has roots in the Old Country).

            Moving down east, 44 degrees north in Milbridge (just good food, not fancy); there's a Mex place at the end of the road behind Joshy's, but it's closed for August to serve the migrant community in Deblois); not a real lot in Jonesport/Addison region, BUT don't miss Bohemian Mama's Bakery, if it's open (wow!). There's a new gourmet store in Machias that's garnering high fives, The French Cellar; Helen's has greatly improved under a new generation of ownership.

            Lubec, quite a few new places over the past year, newest is at The Wharf, but others are on Main Street/Water Street. Nothing that will rock your socks, but a far improvement over what previously was offered. The pub is decent as is the place across the street. If you're a chocoholic, don't miss Monica's, on the road in.

            Eastport, sigh. It's improving. I don't think you can beat the breakfasts at The Weston House, Jett is one of (if not the best) of Eastport's caterers; Pickled Herring--stick with the pizza and the martinis; there's a new Greek spot (takeout? ) that's getting good reviews; Quoddy Bay Lobster, definitely, but it's fair-weather only, all outdoors; the Wa-co is, well, let's just say in a town of not too many choices, it's at the bottom; the New Friendly in Perry, just east of the Eastport turnoff, is a gem--classic down home Maine fare.

            Still with me? Okay, in Calais, I like Juliana's World Cafe (not sure it's still open, but very good, if quite eclectic--has, uhm, charachter; Bernardini's, American-Italian, but does a good job; and if you're wrapping around to the Airline (Route 9), The Nook, a real surprise.

            Fisherman's Inn Restaurant
            7 Newman St, Winter Harbor, ME 04693

            Bernardini's Restaurant
            89 Main St, Calais, ME 04619

            The New Friendly Restaurant
            851 Shore Rd, Perry, ME 04667

            1 Reply
            1. re: Mainegal

              still with you & thank you, thank you, thank you.

            2. So....the trip is getting closer, the itinerary is finally set and we are in Lubec for two The Wharf OK? Anything else within say an half an hour drive? If we ferry out to Deer Isle one day, is there a lunch option? (I know its not technically downeast, but...) and same question for Campobello.

              5 Replies
              1. re: qianning

                The restaurant at the Herring Cove Golf Course on Campobello has acceptable food. Had the fish & chips when I was there last. Fish is fresh as you would expect; breading crisp.

                1. re: qianning

                  Deer Isle has some great options. Lily's is wonderful, and there's a restaurant right on the wharf that I can't remember the name of, but is also quite good. There's also an excellent coffee roastery on-island called 44 North Coffee. It's among the best coffee in the state.

                  1. re: rockblogsterbdn

                    Really, good coffee???? Things are looking up!

                    I'll look into Lily's.

                    Meanwhile, which wharf? The one for the ferry from Campobello or the one for the ferry from L'etete(sp?)?

                    1. re: qianning

                      Sorry to say I think some geographic confusion is present here. Qianning, I think you're meaning Deer Island, which is a Canadian island across the bay from Eastport, Maine, while rockblogsterbdn is referencing Deer Isle, Maine, which is off the Blue Hill peninsula.

                      1. re: mainemal

                        You're right, I mean the Canadian one....44 degrees as a name should have tipped me off...for the life of me I can't seem to keep straight which one is "isle" and which one is "island". Oh well, I had planned to bring along my Melita one cup brewer anyway.

                2. Just back from downeast where we had a great time, and even some pretty good chow. This is sort of list form but here goes....

                  Cohill's in Lubec, my least favorite of the places we went to, and pricey for the quality, but after a long day of driving, it was the easy out.

                  Family Fisheries on Campebello, excellent absolutely fresh fried haddock and wonderful the-real-deal fish chowder, the french fies were probably from the freezer, but tasy enough and the cabbage salad was fresh, crisp & just right. The place doesn't look like much, and when we walked in it was deserted, which gave me pause, but by the time we were done the tables were pretty much all taken and I can see why.

                  The Liberty Cafe in Eastport, really really good home cooked Greek food in a counter service store front (with tables) environment. We loved this place! The food was fresh, not dumbed down at all, perfectly seasoned and better than most Greek food we can get in Boston. If you're in Eastport do try it.

                  Monica's chocolate store in Lubec, you gotta stop if only to hear her schtick, she's an incredible bundle of energy. I'm not such a chocolate person, but my BH is, and he thought the quality was pretty good.

                  The Bluebird Ranch in Machias. Excellent, wonderfully sweet crab roll, the best crabmeat I've had since whenever, really a highlight. The onion rings were ok, maybe a little undercooked for my taste, but definitely homemade. The baked beans and franks were good, although I prefer mine made w/ salt pork rather than bacon and with a touch more mustard. Anyway, good well executed homey Yankee food.

                  We weren't very impressed with Bold Coast Smokehouse (had some of their mussels at Cohill's, and they seemed way under smoked to us), and although we did stop to take a look around their store, we didn't end up buying anything to take with us.

                  That's it for Washington County (+Campobello), Thanks to all for the advice and input, it really helped.