Midcoast Maine Report [Boothbay, Rockland, Waldoboro, Bath] early July 2012
Thanks to all the great CH reports and recs on this board, I ate mostly very well indeed on my recent trip to this area, staying in a cottage and mostly eating breakfast and dinner there, lunches and snacks out. A huge caveat to my report is that I am allergic to shellfish so my choices were probably different than most people’s – eg, no lobster (sob). And I will also say that I was blown away at the apparently genuine kindness and courtesy with which I was treated by every waiter, checker and other hospitality worker I encountered the entire time I was in Maine.
Bet’s Fish Fry, Boothbay Common. Fish and chips or fish sandwich only (see menu pictured below), drinks from a vending machine, cash only. Fabulous, don’t miss it!
Café at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Really great salads and sandwiches, beautifully presented. Someone (or everyone) in that kitchen is having fun! Gardens are a knockout too.
Baker’s Way, down in the harbor. This looks very unpromising but has an extensive Vietnamese menu. I just got the steamed dumplings for a snack, and when I saw them being nuked I really didn’t expect much. They were heaven, though, the tenderest wrapper I think I have ever had, good flavor in the filling, topped with some wonderfully caramelized onion and with a very good soy-based dipping sauce. A friend who has a house in the area tells me that the apple fritters are one of the best things she has ever had.
Boothbay Lobster Wharf, Atlantic Ave on far side of harbor. All the lucky people eating whole steamed lobsters and piles of steamers looked incredibly happy. I got a fried fish sandwich that was no better than meh. Since that is clearly not the purpose of the place I was not all that surprised.
Oak Street Provisions, Oak Street in harbor area. Cute small place with wines, some specialty grocery and a small meat and fish counter. I got a gorgeous-looking piece of swordfish, cut to order off a big side of fish, and some English cheddar. The cheese was great, the fish was the toughest piece of fish of any kind I have ever tried to eat. I cook A LOT of fish and don’t think it was user error. Guess that fish just had a hard life. I did not go back or I would have mentioned it to the lovely folks there. This would not deter me from buying other fish or meat there in the future.
Farmers Market, Boothbay Common, Thursdays. Loads of great stuff: produce, cheeses, meats, honey, spreads and dips, etc.
Hannaford’s Route 27, right before the harbor. Handy if not particularly well-stocked (it is quite small). I was glad I did my “big” shop at Shaw’s in Wiscasset (Route 1) on my way up.
Rock City Café, Main Street. I was dying to like this spot with its cute menu and lovely staff. Sadly, my burger was terrible – wildly cooked beyond the medium I had specified and on a charred roll. I had waited so long for it that I did not bother sending it back, I wanted to get on with my day. I am going to chalk it up to a bad day in the kitchen as a co-worker and his family ate there 3 weeks earlier and loved everything.
Morse’s Sauerkraut and Deli, 3856 Washington Road (aka Route 220), crosses Route 1 at Moody’s intersection. I walked in right after an enormous group so the wait to eat there was not feasible, sadly. I did get a container of fabulous sauerkraut and another of pretty good garlic sour pickles. It would be a sausage heaven for most but I get my sausages at Karl’s Sausage Kitchen in the Boston area and was only slightly tempted, knowing my freezer at home was well stocked. Wish I had been able to eat at the tiny German restaurant.
Moody’s Diner, Route 1. If you like true diner food you can’t go far wrong. My chicken croquettes with gravy and mashed potatoes were just fabulous. I got some haddock fishcakes to go, and they were equally wonderful reheated. (Made a terrific breakfast with a poached egg on top, inspired by another menu that offered fishcake benedict, an idea I consider inspired). The haddock chowder was just OK. The burgers I saw someone else eating looked dreadful although looks can deceive, while the meatloaf and spaghetti and meatballs on another table looked great.
Mae’s Café and Bakery,160 Centre Street (at top of an exceedingly steep hill) . Good fancy grilled cheese with decent chips and slaw and really terrific iced tea in a very nice setting. It made me very happy till I peered in the window and read the menu at Solo Bistro, when I seriously considered (but just could not do) a second lunch.
Can hardly wait to go back to this area! Thanks Maine ‘hounds and others who gave such good guidance!
Thanks for the great report. There are so many places and so little room in the stomach. We were also in the Bath area for 4th of July. Since we are fans of community suppers we went to the Rotary Club's chicken barbecue that was held behind the library (beautiful park) on Friday night then sat for a nice free concert by the local swing band. The chicken was very moist with a barbecue sauce rather than the vinegar marinade used by community groups in our area of NH. For $15 you got 1/2 chicken, slice of watermelon, scoop of potato salad, scoop of coleslaw, choice of roll or cornbread, beverage and homemade pie. My pie was great (strawberry rhubarb) but DH has been spoiled by our local farmstand blueberry pie and was disappointed in his blueberry pie.
I love the farmers markets when we are making some of our meals. Brunswick on Fridays wasn't as large as it has been in the past, Rockland (Thurs) was good, Bath's (Sat) was the best with a great yogurt/cheese vendor (Balfour Farms) and more variety. You can always count on some yummy pastry for a breakfast or afternoon snack. If I had been cooking meals on this visit, I would have scooped up some of the delicious mushrooms I saw at the Bath market.
We found Morse's by accident after visiting Sweetgrass Winery and Distillery. I liked the mustard dills the best. Bought some bacon and sausage. Unfortunately, we had already had lunch and DH does not like sauerkraut. Although I had read raves here on Chowhound, I did not expect such a large European deli in the middle of "nowhere". Excellent reason to get away from Rt 1.
We were happy to find Gifford's Ice Cream served at Witch Spring in West Bath. The scoops are huge so even small (you can get two flavors) was too big. The adjacent sandwich/pizza shop was tiny but big on customer service esp when we arrived at closing time and asked for steak subs and the grill had already been shut off and cleaned. Decent sandwiches but nothing special.
We would have eaten more meals at Schutty's in West Bath but they weren't open as late as advertised during the holiday week. It's a food truck in a parking lot next to Sea Spray Kayaks. I had a great crab roll with avocado and tomato. DH had fried clams. Schutty's uses local food and their menu is more original than most seafood restaurants. According to yelp reviews, the fish tacos and haddock reubens are great.
GretchenS - Thanks soooo much for taking the time to do a write up. My wife and I are heading to the same are in a few weeks for a week long, laid back vacation in the South Bristol/Damariscotta area and these were just the kinds of places/info we're looking for.