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Aug 15, 2013 06:35 AM

A couple days on MDI with the locals

Took Mrs Bobbert on a road trip to bike and visit her relatives in Southwest Harbor for a few days of eating under the radar. When the neighbors are lobstermen you don't really eat lobster out - we grabbed a dozen for $30 for lunch at the house - so we did some off the beaten path stuff.
We were going to grab something at Thurston's but no way were any locals going to wait in that line. I feebly tried to explain that there's usually a reason why one place has a line while you can walk right into another but we ended up at the Seafood Catch in Bass Harbor. The view was nice and the bread was good. Food was all downhill from there. Everyone had some type of fish and all dishes were very overcooked. A swing and a miss. Wait in line at Thurston's.
Next day, walked around Bar Harbor and for a bite we stopped into the Route 66 Cafe. Did a couple of serviceable apps and good local drafts. Nothing special food-wise but the place is chock full of old memorabilia (think American Pickers type stuff) so that made it worthwhile if only for nostalgia purposes.
Back in SW Harbor we stopped for beers at Captain Nemo's, the dump with the big lighthouse in the yard. If you want to feel better about your local dive bar back home, go here. All decorations actually came from the dump. Unlike your typical dive bar which usually started out life with high ambitions, Nemo's started out to be a dive and has done so quite well. We didn't dare eat the food but the beer selection was good (the draft sizes start at 20 oz and go way up from there). One had some spicy blueberry tequila concoction that was interesting. Friends have had their bloody Mary's which you can get with a lobster tail in it. If you want to go slumming with the locals, this was a fun place. Apparently even good for kids as the walls are adorned with drawings by children. I don't think I'd bring them after dark.
For our last dinner we tried Walkers Mediterranean in Manset next to the Hinckley boat yard. The food here was very, very good. Decor was inviting - not a lobster buoy or trap in sight. Service was, we'll say, not smooth but it was very friendly and boy were they trying. Tiny wine list of the most reasonable priced bottles I've ever seen. We had a Portuguese white $22 and the most expensive wine on the menu, a red at $26. Both were good. A flatbread app was good - I'm sure they gave us another table's order as it came out 30 seconds after we ordered and the we were twice asked if we had gotten the flatbread. I had a perfectly cooked medium rare sirloin with a delicious sauce and again perfectly cooked spinach and roasted potatoes. DW had a pasta dish with chicken which was perfectly cooked and she loved it. The owner is a bit of a hoot telling us how she got herself a "real live fancy chef" back in the kitchen. She herself is a pastry chef and we finished with a yummy chocolate cake with fresh whipped cream.
Dinner for 4 with a shared app, 2 bottles of wine, dessert and coffee came in at $150. Expect really nice food with "they're trying really hard" service with no fancy pretense and I think it's worth a stop.
Hit Chase's Daily in Belfast on the drive home. Love that place. About 25 people were lined up at Red's in the rain.

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    1. re: Morganna

      Mount Desert (pronounced dessert) Island, Maine.

    2. I recall a lovely setting and really dreadful food at the Seafood Catch some years back. One of the owners was very active on TA boards and folks touted it like crazy. It was pretty empty when we were there.

      I can't believe locals agreed to eat there!

      I LOVE MDI, very jealous!

      6 Replies
      1. re: mcf

        " I can't believe locals agreed to eat there!"
        I guess the place has good deals and all is a bit better in the off season. There's also the factor of being a guest of non-hounds. My wife usually gives me a look and I swallow hard then proceed to look for "safe" items on the menu. I should have gone with a steamed lobster. That would have been the safest bet. DW tells me the name is actually Seafood Ketch - yet one more reason to avoid.

        1. re: bobbert

          Yes, I forgot, it's been years. Just depressing meals we had there.

          1. re: bobbert

            Ketch isn't a misspelling of catch. a Ketch is a type of sailboat. So they were trying to be punny.

            1. re: JMF

              Yeah, I got it. Never really looked at the sign. Just knew we were going to the "seafood catch" even though they probably said "Ketch". With either spelling, food was pretty much not worth it.

            2. re: bobbert

              I'm sorry, bobbert, I'm with your wife on this one. I would have given you "that look", too. Sometimes it's about the friends and not about the food. Don't be that city guy who's the food snob. When taken out of our natural environment, we are really obnoxious! And when in doubt in Maine, always order the steamed stuff.

              1. re: crawfish

                I'm pretty good at not being " that guy" which was why my attempt was so feeble. With family, I tend to eat a lot of bad food. The bright side is I appreciate good food so much more.