Camden/Rockland in Winter
We are visiting family in Bangor for Thanksgiving and will sneak away one night. We will spend Sat night at Lord Camden Inn and fly out of Bangor on Sun afternoon.
I'm having a hard time figuring out what is open during the winter months. We are looking for a nice dinner Sat night in Camden/Rockland and brunch on Sunday in between Camden/Rockland and Bangor.
I'd prefer to stay in Camden for dinner so I can drink with dinner. But I'd be willing to drive to Rockland for a great dinner. Prefer brunch over breakfast on Sunday, but breakfast is fine, too.
Anyone have suggestions? It seems a lot of the recs (ie Primo) close for the season.
Primo doesn't close until early January, so that would be my 1st choice. If you must stay in Camden I would go with Fromviandoux, Francine Bistro, or Long Grain if u want more casual (lunch there would be the perfect choice).
Maybe start with a drink and app at 40 Paper (their happy hour is hard to beat).
While we have really wanted to love it, our 3 disappointing Primo visits over the years- have
convinced us not to return. On our last Maine Oct. trip , we really liked Francine's in Camden, and, surprisingly, 15 minutes south in Rockland>>Rustica (simple but really well executed Italian.) Here's my report from our last trip up that way:
Did you sit at the antipasti bar? It's a better vibe AND you get to choose from 2 menus (the regular and the bar menu). I know I sound like a broken record, but no chef on the MidCoast works as hard at her craft as Melissa Kelly. I've been many times over the years and can conservatively say that 95% of my visits have been nothing less than 1st rate.
Thanks for the advice. I think Francine Bistro will suit us just fine. We can easily walk from the Inn. Fromviandoux also peaks my interest. Will have to check out the fall menus and make my decision based on that :-)
I guess next year we'll have to spend the night in Rockland :-)
I agree, @opinionatedchef, the fries at DuckFat at to. die. for. We still talk about them.
Still looking for a brunch recommendation. Maybe something in Belfast or Bucksport? Does such a thing even exist? One of my *favorite* places in Maine is the A-one diner in Gardiner. So I suppose it's possible.
Or if you want to eat right downstairs, have breakfast at Boynton-McKay, an old pharmacy just downstairs from your Inn. Nothing spectacular but good, solid food, tea and coffee.
I have to agree with MCM re: Primo. Have been eating their food since they were in NYS, where I live. As soon as they opened the bars for eating, moved up there and haven"t been disappointed.
Well, we have reservations at Fromviandoux--can't wait.
Our plan was to have brunch at Home Kitchen Cafe in Rockland and then visit a few of the lighthouses. I just discovered that they are closed for renovation!
Looks like Boynton-McKay will suit us just fine. Right next to the Inn and then we will head down to Rockland for Lighthouse viewing.
Thought I'd report on our stay. We ate at Fromviandoux and Boynton-McKay, as suggested.
Boynton-McKay was great. Just steps for our hotel (Lord Camden Inn). It was surprisingly busy for an early Sunday but we were greeted right away and seated in a few minutes. I like not having to struggle to get a seat. The whole process is a little confusing. You order at the back counter, self-serve coffee in the front, get juices out of the cooler on the side, and then pay as you leave. The food was outstanding and varied. Be warned though--onions in the hashers. (I hate onions). Great coffee, great pastries in the front. Thanks for the recommendation!
Fromviandoux was a little more "meh". Here's my review from TA:
I found this restaurant to have highs and lows. We started off with cocktails from the speciality cocktail list. This is one of our favorite things to enjoy while looking over the menu. One was a "seasonal" with sage and dewar's. It tasted like a Band-Aid (try it--you'll agree). The Washingtonier was on the "hearty" list and was sweet and like a party drink and at the same time really limey. None were conducive to a pre-dinner aperitif.
The cheeses are great. You can't go wrong here. The presentation is excellent. All of your cheese and charcuterie and sides are all artfully placed on a large rectangle plate for sharing. Specialty breads are brought on the sides which were excellent. The pistachio pate was pretty standard. (they were out of the chicken liver mousse we wanted) Overall, the highlight of the meal.
We decided to try a few "smaller" plates to share. They are small. The pork belly with hash and cabbage was outstanding, as was a salad of beets and winter carrots. The Duck bacon wrapped scallop was, well, kind of gross. The scallop was not prepared well and chewy. Absolutely no sear. The Duck bacon had little flavor and only added more chewy. The parsnip and a sweet jelly was overwhelming and, well, too sweet. These were small and expensive. (In their defense, our server did describe the "smaller" options as being smaller compared to other options.)
The dessert was better. Another patron (who LOVED the place and lived in Camden) suggested the ricotta doughnuts. They were great--almost like a beignet. There was a pot de creme that was light and tasty. But then was a sorbet/compote like mixture with sage (?) that had a weird texture and was much too sweet for the light, airy doughnuts and mild pot de creme. It was kind of odd to have it on the plate.
Service was a little awkward at times but still pleasant and timely.
Would I return, probably. The restaurant is a cool concept. But I would be *very* careful in my choices in the future.
If you live in the area, I would definitely check it out! As I said in my review, I would probably go back. The charcuterie/cheese board is a good choice. Perhaps going the entree route would be better? I agree with Cassoulet, one of the best parts of our dinner were two amuse-bouches. Hopefully they get added to the menu!