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Mid-coast Maine (Camden)

I am looking for recommendations for great local places in Mid-Coast Maine (around Camden).

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  1. Well, you should probably check the many postings on the subject on this board. With the announcement this a.m. of the regional James Beard Award nominees, two great possibilities would be Francine Bistro in Camden, and Primo in Rockland.

    1. I was looking for casual places that locals frequent, not necessarily fine dining.

      2 Replies
      1. re: smwaksman

        Marriner's Restaurant, downtown Camden (' fried fish and eggs' for breakfast and lobster roll on a hamburger bun for lunch)
        Thorndike Creamery, Rockland (great pizza)
        Park Street Grille Rockland (pub style, menu online daily)
        Dot's Market Lincolnville, (breakfast and lunch sandwiches, good coffee, nice pastries)
        Brass Compass Cafe Rockland (breakfast & salads/sands)
        Home Kitchen Cafe Rockland (breakfast)
        Cappy's Chowder House (downtown Camden), Duo's Takeout (lobster rolls and fish n chips), The Keag Store in South Thomaston (burgers, pizza, subs)
        and of course Wasses Hot Dog Stands.
        (Unfortunately the lobster shacks like Waterman's won't be open yet in May).

        1. re: jackattack

          Jackattack's got a great list here of the casual places. I'd add:

          Rockland Café for breakfast
          Owls Head General Store for burgers
          Come Spring Café in Union for breakfast
          Thomaston Café for breakfast
          The Slipway in Thomaston for fried seafood

          Anywhere along the coast is going to be primarily tourist driven, it's the nature of the area. Property taxes are so high no restaurant can survive on locals alone.

      2. What time of year will you be here? Primo is hands down the best, but not open until May. Long Grain (Thai fusion) is a MUST.

        3 Replies
        1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

          I will be there in May. I am looking for casual places that locals frequent. I get plenty of fine dining in NYC.

          1. re: smwaksman

            We had a fabulous meal at In Good Company in Rockland. It's a fairly small spot. We sat at the bar that is right in front of the one person kitchen. Our meal was served to us by the chef. It was perfect.

            1. re: smwaksman

              1. Primo antipasti bar (Rockland)
              2. Long Grain (Camden)
              3. Shepherd's Pie (Rockport)
              4. 40 Paper - esp. for Happy Hour (Camden)
              5. In Good Company (Rockland)
              6. Francine Bistro (Camden)
              7. Lost Kitchen (Belfast)
              8. Fromviandoux (Camden)
              9. Home Kitchen Cafe (Rockland). A MUST for breakfast!

          2. I agree the Long Grain recommendation, but make sure you make a reservation. 40 Paper is within easy walking distance of Long Grain and offers great happy hour drinks.

            In Good Company is another casual, highly recommendable restaurant.

            1 Reply
            1. re: westie

              And as the OP is from the NYC area here's a link to what the NY Times had to say about Long Grain http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/... . It fits in very well with what they're looking for.
              Even though Primo can be considered fine dining, I think upstairs in the bar area can be quite casual. What I always do on my yearly trip is walk the gardens and greenhouses out back before dinner. I think of it as an integral part of the Primo dining experience. In NYC one usually does not get to visit the chickens and pigs that will be on tomorrow's menu just before eating. True farm to table experience.

            2. Locals go to all the recommended restaurants. The more casual local places are: Waterfront restaurant - which this local usually only eats from the bar menu - great hamburgers and mussel platters and salads. Mr. Wats Sushi in Rockport is very casual and quiet - locals love it because it is out of the downtown, good food, good prices - most tourists don't know about it.

              1. I'll throw in Cafe Miranda in Rockland - casual, tasty, mostly locally-sourced, and patronized by locals.

                Or for *really* local, enjoy some fish cakes at the Rockland Cafe.

                1. Oh yeah, and Fog Bar (Rockland) and Suzuki's (Rockland)...if u like sushi.

                  And by the time you get here, the chef/owner behind 40 Paper in Camden will have opened his new place on Main St Rockland...3 Crow. High hopes for it.

                  What can I say, we have a lot of great places here.

                  1. Hi all. I was in Camden a couple of weeks ago. I was disappointed to miss Long Grain---they are/were on a winter break. But, I wanted to report on and recommend a place that had just opened right near Long Grain, Comida. We had caipirinhas (very good, fresh); a starter of corn cakes with Maine shrimp in a tasty sauce (my favorite dish of the meal); chicken mole with rice, beans, and some salad greens; chile rellenos; and a cubano sandwich (special of the day that day). I liked everything I tried, and I *really* liked the corncake appetizer and the caipirinhas. The service was attentive and friendly, and the space is friendly too. I recommend it and look forward to another visit.

                    One note about the corncakes---I might use a different label for them. To me they were more like fabulous slices of baked or pan seared polenta. Anyway, a hit for me, by whatever name. Oh, the sauce...

                    1. Since this seems to be the thread for this, a quick round-up from our just-completed mid-coast mid-July weekend:

                      Home Kitchen Cafe (Rockland): A real disappointment. The coffee, must-get-right for any breakfast specialty place, was tasteless: could not be discerned to be coffee. Hollandaise sauce on the "Bennies" (a cuteism for Eggs Benedict-themed courses) was similarly tasteless- not a note of lemon and very little egg to taste: basically yellow white sauce. OJ: from a box. Breads; very good. Jams: Smuckers. Giant American servings. Plates arrive bare except for the ordered items: no garnishes, so there you go: plop. Friendly, efficient service, nice view from their rooftop deck. We won't be back.

                      MUCH, much better mid-coast breakfasts:

                      Saltwater Café right in the middle of Rockport: breakfast food and coffees as they should be, with a terrific deck overlooking Rockport harbor. Real OJ, real (Matt's Wood Roasted organic) coffee. Stuff like that. Seriously great restaurant-building and -running.

                      Surprisingly, despite its mid-century-resort heaviness, the Samoset has a great breakfast, served in a large dining room with a sweeping view of the water. Prices are nowhere near as high as they might be for a resort hotel. I would skip the buffet and order from the menu. The ricotta-lemon-blueberry pancakes are a must-have: my wife calls it the best breakfast she's ever had. The Samoset is a big sprawling mess and we actually had a hard time finding the main entrance, but it’s well worth a morning visit for breakfast. Dig the view.

                      Francine Bistro: good as ever. Their entree’s tend a bit on the heavy side, but if you understand that going in, Francine’s just one of Maine’s best restaurants. We returned the next night, for cocktails and oysters before dinner, because: Francine.

                      Then we headed up the hill to Natalie’s, which is a bit of a mixed bag. I could write an essay about what’s going on there, but in a nutshell Natalie’s is as much about the experience as the food. A guest at Francine called Natalie’s “stuffy”: it’s not, not at all. It IS unctuous, self-referential, friendly and somehow tawdry. The food is very good and often excellent. Be prepared to be pampered, if your idea of being pampered is having waitstaff at the table for a large part of your time there, asking how you like the food or telling you what you’re eating or about to eat. They unintentionally double this up from time to time: 2 or even three consecutive servers coming to ask if we found the most recent plate enjoyable. High-end table service used to be unobtrusively helpful and elegant: this is an “experience”, designed to reassure one-percenters and strivers that they are as important as they feel they should be.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Dual

                        I'm curious to know why you called Natalie's unctuous and tawdry. (I am not associated with the restaurant in any way.) I found it neither of those, nor did I find it an "experience." It was simply high-end dining, complete with smart, attentive service and a polite, knowledgeable sommelier. You were right on one count, though: The food (and presentation) was excellent.