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Mount Desert Island Eating Report

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Hi All,

I'm just back from a great weekend in Mount Desert Island (pronounced Dessert, apparently) and I thought I'd share my experience. Although I never posted any questions here, I learned a lot from reading past threads so I'd love to add to the knowledge out there.

First things: my boyfriend and I are from New York and we got to MDI by public transport, and never had a car while staying there. So I wanted to say that that is possible! We rented bikes and used the bikes and the Island Explorer to get around, which definitely made all our eating guilt free. I'm happy to share more details about where we stayed and prices, but I thought you'd be most interested in the food:

Thurston's: We were staying in Bass Harbor, so this wasn't a long ride home. The lobster was great - we got soft shell - and there's plenty of seating with a great view. The crab cake sandwich was fantastic and the steamed clams were great (once we got the hang of how to eat them, we're newbies). And the lobster roll was beautiful. Also, I was introduced to Old Soaker root beer, which is delicious!

Beal's: We only got fish and chips here, as it was an afternoon snack (see above about biking=guilt-free eating). The fish was haddock and in nugget sized pieces. The batter wasn't as thick as I prefer, but it was still nice. The chips had a coating on them, like a light batter, and they were delicious. Another fun place to eat as it's right on the dock.

Cafe This Way: This eclectic cafe in Bar Harbor reminded us of somewhere in Boulder CO or upstate New York. Books line the walls and lots of people were dressed in hiking gear, ready to get adventurous. The coffee was great and it served what I consider diner-style breakfast, eggs, omelettes, corned beef hash... Very tasty and quaint.

Sips: This cafe in Southwest Harbor is similar to Cafe This Way, but not quite as successful, in my opinion. The food was fine, although my bagel/egg/bacon sandwich had the smallest, saddest rashers of bacon that I'd ever seen adorn a breakfast. But the service was nice and the room is pretty cozy, so it's fine.

Red Sky: We couldn't get reservations for this popular Southwest Harbor restaurant, but turned up and were able to get seats at the bar (where they serve a full menu). This place was fantastic, simple yet stunning food with great ingredients and a really comfortable atmosphere. We came after a day of hiking and kayaking, in our outdoor shoes and with my messy hair, and we were treated as nicely as the well dressed folk around us, a fact I really appreciated. The crab cake here was heavenly, truly all the best bits of the crab with no effort involved. The BF was eating it with his eyes closed to savor the experience (and that's saying a lot, as he's normally satisfied with anything I put in front of him). And the gingerbread dessert was so good I wanted to bottle it and cuddle up with it to get me through the winter.

Morning Glory Bakery: We were riding past this place on our last hours in Bar Harbor and I decided it would be our last meal. I had no input from the Chowhound gallery so I was flying blind. Luckily, it all worked out. The place is pretty tiny, with just a few tables inside but there's an back courtyard and chairs out the front as well. We had bagel sandwiches, which were great, and also got a sandwich for lunch later. The meatloaf sandwich was fantastic, however didn't really survive the bus ride as it got too soggy. Coffee here was good too, and the place makes note of the different local purveyors that they utilize. I would definitely go back here.

And that was our whirlwind MDI eating adventure! Thanks Maine, you're pretty tasty. `

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  1. Thanks for the report, Chowmania. My husband and I will be on MDI in a few weeks so your review is helpful. I didn't know if I wanted to spend the $$ for Red Sky but I think you've convinced me!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Mauiwood

      How did you get to NYC to Bar Harbor? Did you from New York and changed planes in Boston, (via Cape Air)?

      1. re: syrup09

        No, it was all by land. We went Bolt Bus to Boston, Concord Coach to Bangor then the Bar Harbor Shuttle to Bar Harbor. It ended up costing about $140/person return. We booked it on the same day we left, if we had booked earlier we would have found a better price on the Bolt Bus.

        1. re: chowmania

          I found a Cape Air quote for as low as 129$ round trip from Boston to Bangor, (leaving on a Sunday.) When I was in New England about six weeks ago I got a one way flight from Boston to Augusta for 59$. Both routes are EAS, (Essential Air Service) subsidized by the government.

          Then again you still have to make it to Boston.

    2. My wife and parents spent a week in SW Harbor..

      Beals - we ate there 3 nights, as we were staying nearby on Clark Point. Good lobster roll - lots of meat, well toasted bun. We also had mussels, steamer clams, corn, a good scallop roll, and a well priced bottles of wine on the dock. This was overall our favorite lobster pound on the island. I had the lobster bisque, which I'd give solid marks to, although it was not my absolute favorite..

      Thurstons - good, the lobster roll was a bit less tasty than Beals, and the corn was not as good (we are sweet corn fanatics). I am not sure if I would wait in a long line here - I've heard good things about Maine-ly Delights just across the harbor.

      Lighthouse Inn and Restaurant - Seal Harbor - decor is ehh, but my favorite bowl of lobster stew was here. I had a fried clam sandwich that was decent, but my Dad really enjoyed his fish and chips.

      Quietside Cafe - in SW Harbor - good crab rolls and fish chowder, and delicious blueberry pie. Order a full pie the day before and enjoy wherever you are renting.

      Jordan Pond - gotta do it once.. make reservations. I had the lobster stew and pop-overs. In hindsight - the ice cream ala mode would have been a better choice for a sunny day, but the stew was tasty.