Mid Coast Maine Musings - March 2012
Slow day at work, thought I might throw out some recent thoughts/observations related to the Midcoast dining scene (primarily Rockland, Rockport, & Camden).
1. Lily Bistro in Rockland ME Closes
Still reeling from this one. One of my go to spots for good food cheap. In my opinion it was the only "true" bistro in the area...rustic French food at a good price. I drove by yesterday and noticed that there's a sign in the window that says, and I quote, "Lobsterman's Restaurant Coming SOON". I certainly wish them the best, but this area really doesn't need another mediocre, seasonal, seafood restaurant. And if by chance the owners are reading this, please consider ANY name other than that one. How about "Lobbers"? Or "Mudbugs"? Or just "The Lobsterman"?
2. New Sandwich Bar Coming to Rockland ME
Mostly overheard at the post office by the guy working on the re-design of the old Pastry Chef space (next to Rustica). Same owner as Rustica is opening it up...heard it will be a sort of sandwich/burger bar. A solid late night sandwich/burger spot is a great idea...hope it's as good as it's being billed in my mind.
3. James Beard Awards
Great representation on the MidCoast. The Chase's from Chases Daily in Belfast, Brian Hill from Francine (& Shepherds Pie) in Camden (Rockport), are all up for Best Chef Northeast...and Melissa Kelly from Primo in Rockland is up for Outstanding Chef (i.e. Best in Show). I had almost thought that Bas Nakjaroen from Long Grain might get a nod for something...but not this year. He was a semifinalist for Best Chef Southeast when he had a Thai place down in Florida a few years ago. Long Grain is a real gem.
4. Rock City Cafe - Rockland ME
I've talked about it in other threads, but the new, young Chef at Rock City Cafe (Nick Krunkkala) is doing some pretty amazing food there. He took over in October, and most people still equate Rock City with a coffee shop...but man there's some good food going on there. If you're in the area, check it out for sure.
5. Linda Bean's Perfect Lobster in Rockland, ME
Doesn't look like it's coming back to that little stand next to the Farnsworth. No big surprise, there were rarely people there last summer. It has a for rent sign. My plea again...PLEASE can somebody open up a decent Mexican stand there? It's a great, high traffic spot....nice shaded trees...views of Robert Indiana's EAT sign...etc etc. Maybe I should write that in Spanish to appeal to the demographic I'm trying to hit...
6. Off The Radar
Not heavily advertised but In Good Company (Rockland, ME) has been doing special event meals on Thursdays (can't remember if it's every other Thurs, once a month, ??). Went to the last Greek Night a couple weeks ago...really good. Further down Main Street, Julia at Sweets and Meats market has been doing Sunday Night Supper Clubs twice a month...next one this Sunday. Theme is "Mardi Gras" (yes, a little late!). Among the highlights...fried alligator! I've been to a few now...definitely worth checking out...
Ok, thats it for now. Go eat something. Preferably not at Applebees.
Hey Shooley...thanks for the info! I had seen something going on inside the old Rock City space...had no idea what. That is FANTASTIC news! I recently spent a week in Barcelona and I am absolutely obsessed with the Spanish tapas food culture. I love sampling many different things...which is what I exclusively do now at Primo. Saddle up to the antipasti bar and just order a bunch of small plates (including splitting pasta/salad dishes). I gotta say, you have made my day with that news...
The pastry/bread selections have definitely changed at Rock City...and I asked them about that a couple weeks ago...they said they ramped it down a bit in the winter...but should come back in the spring. So...we'll see. They haven't changed bakers as far as i know...i still see the same faces. Chef Nick is exclusively focused on the "meals" aspect...
As Rock City has ramped down on the pastries/bread, I have noticed that ABC has been ramping it up lately....went there Saturday and they now have saturday donuts (had a great crueller), eclairs, breakfast sandwiches are back...etc. And I do like that Coffee by Design coffee...
You know, I have also wondered about Melody. There's no doubt that IGC is one of the best places to eat & drink on the entire midcoast...it's another one of our go to spots. I basically think it comes down to size. She typically only has 4 "entrees" on the menu at any given time...even though she does mix it up from week to week. And she's only open for dinner. I know Primo has that same limitation (PLUS it closes seasonally) but I think the massive diversity of the menu and the so called "farm to fork" concept gives her that added boost. No doubt for me though, given a choice between IGC or, say, Francine...I'll take IGC any day.
Trust me, I'm not trying to defend the Chase's pick over IGC...but I suppose you could look at the the fact that Chases serves more meals (breakfast/brunch, lunch, dinner once a week -- though...are they still doing daily breakfasts?), the menu is a bit more extensive (even if it is vegetarian), and they have the whole "source from your own backyard" thing going on. I think the Beard nominators love that locavore aspect, especially in the more rural restaurants...
A few thoughts on your thoughts...Other than the usual soups, etc., I have not really checked out the Rock City food, but I should. On the other hand, I have been a huge fan of their baked goods for years, but I've noticed lately I don't like them so much. They used to have the best scones in the world next to Kohnie's coffee in Phoenix, Az (but they're gone and I no longer live there so there). Mayber there's a new baker there?
Happy to hear that Bean's so-called perfect lobster stand is not likely to return--a favor to the community if you ask me. In addition to the upscale burger joint/sandwich bar that's in production next to Rustica, I understand that the owner of Black Parrot is putting in a tapas/pub-style/something or other restaurant where Rock City used to be. Supposedly it will have good beers on tap and a decent wine list.
We've been availing ourselves of the Maine restaurant week offerings. I, too, love Shepherd's PIe, but wish he wouldn't use so much sickly sweet sauce on his food. That sweet chili Asian soy thing is cloying.
I, too, am very pleased with the midcoast showings in the Beard nominations. However, one person who gets left out consistently, in my opinion, is Melody Wolfertz at In Good Company, particularly if you consider the fact that Chase's Daily hasn't gotten the nod twice. She has been putting out some amazing food from that tiny kitchen for years.