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Apr 22, 2014 06:16 PM

Midcoast Maine, Patriots' Day weekend 2014

Left Boston Saturday morning. Our first stop was Bath - we were both charmed by the farmers' market in a beautiful old building on the Kennebec River.

Next stop, Camden, where we were staying (in hindsight, I should have picked a place in Belfast, which was more our speed). But being within walking distance of Long Grain made up for the sleepiness of Camden. We had only lunch there, but it was fantastic. The rice cake appetizer was unusual - blocks of rice cake (colored green tea?) that was crisp on the outside, served in a light soy sauce and on some scattered bean sprouts, though those didn't add much to the dish. These cakes reminded me of a Korean-style New Year's rice cake. My khao soi (pictured) lived up to its reputation - creamy, spicy, soothing, piquant all at the same time. Noodles were toothsome. I think B was a bit underwhelmed by his pad kee mao. We switched back-and-forth and I personally liked the wok hei of his dish and the stout, short rice noodles were wonderful. All the versions of pad kee mao that I've had have been subtle in flavor - maybe I should have warned him beforehand. Well-edited beer and wine selection, including some Asian beers we'd never seen before, such as Hue (a town we've never visited but it's high on our list).

Dinner at Comida was ok but we enjoyed the cozy space so much, that we were happy anyway, Started off with really good homemade tortilla chips with red and green sauces. My fish tacos were good and I especially liked the pickled cabbage, but the single tortilla made them tough to eat. By the time I reached my second taco (and I'm a pretty swift eater), I couldn't pick it up so I resorted to eating the filling with a fork. Bummer. B found his cod dish under seasoned and the portion size too small. Despite these missteps, we'd return if in Camden. A beer run at the Stop n' Go convenience store/gas station after dinner was a revelation! Instead of facing a cooler full of Bud products, much of the cooler was devoted to Pretty Things, Lagunitas, and the like. We remarked our surprise to the clerk and he said in the friendliest manner, "we take a lot of pride in our beer and our wine - we have a beer guy and a wine guy. This is Maine - we know how to drink!" Righteous!

Lunch on Sunday (it was Easter so there were few places open) at the Whale's Tooth in Lincolnville was a lot of fun. We sat at the tiny cozy bar, right next to the huge real fireplace, which was lit. The servers amused us throughout our meal - started with perfectly fried calamari, we both had haddock sandwiches (could've used a bit more salt) and I had a seafood chowder that was full of fish and shrimp.

Dinner was a late snack at Rollie's after we caught a 7 pm movie at the Colonial in Belfast. They were the only place open at 9 pm and we received warm and welcoming service at the bar. Nachos were not good, but it did the job of soaking up beer. Steak salad was a nice light dinner. We loved that the audio for the Sox game was on - we'd definitely go back if in Belfast for a game.

Lunch on Monday was an unplanned stop in Newcastle on the way home. We were not hungry enough in Rockland (we were going to try Cafe Miranda) so we pushed on and stumbled on Newcastle Publick House (well, with the help of Google, of course). We loved this place as well. Caught the end of the Patriots' Day Sox game. They were out of gumbo, so we had the pulled pork sandwich (there's a smoker outside) which was deemed delicious and a blackened haddock sandwich. The most perfect fries with both (we like fries that are hand-cut, skin-on, somewhere between steak- and shoestring-style, with a crisp exterior).

One last food-related stop in Wiscasset to poke our heads into Treats. We loved the big, low farm table in the back and those beautiful low stools. Left with a loaf of multigrain bread and a couple of bottles of red. Noticed almost no wait at Red's.

There's so much we missed: Chase's, The Gothic, 3 Crow, Suzuki, Cafe Miranda, Fog, etc. We'll be back soon...

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  1. Really nice trip report.

    1. Thanks for the heads up on Red's. There was some speculation that they might not be opening this year. But I guess you eased our fears about that. Thanks.

      1. wonderful report - I'm drooling

        1. Forgot to mention that we also missed out on Seabright in Camden. It was supposed to have opened April 19 but it looked very closed to us. GAH!!

          1. Nice report. I'll say that if you liked Belfast, you'd likely really like Rockland as a home base. It's the only town around where you can have an incredible meal at a two-time James Beard winner one night (Melissa Kelly at Primo), and then slum it with the locals the next (Myrtle Street Tavern or Time Out Pub). But even those places have it's charm...Time Out on Monday nights get some really fantastic Blues musicians as part of the North Atlantic Blues Festival concert series. Rockland just has more "stuff" to do...the Farnsworth, the soon to be constructed Center for Maine Contemporary Art, the old school Strand Theater, galleries, shopping, etc. It's what I would call a more vibrant place. Camden, for all it's aesthetic charm, can be a little bit more, I dunno, "staid".

            In addition to the restaurants above that you mentioned (and in addition to Primo that I mentioned above - the BEST in Maine in my opinion) I'd also point you towards In Good Company and Rustica for a nice dinner (both Rockland)...or Wasses and Duos for a quick takeout bite (ditto).

            Have fun on your return trip!

            5 Replies
            1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

              We did walk around Rockland and I kept remarking to B how much I liked the place. For all the trips we make up to Maine, I can't believe we've never made Rockland a destination. It is now!

              Thanks again to you and all the other Midcoasters, whose posts I've been reading/using for years.

              1. re: digga

                If nothing else, it gives you an excuse to come back...and that's a GOOD thing!

                BTW, there's alot going on in Rockland right now...many new projects in the works...the aforementioned art center, a new food market, many small retailers like the Coastal Maine Popcorn Co., a couple restaurants, and two hotels (one boutique, one a bit larger). Alot of buzz right now.

                Head here for lodging options:

                1. re: digga

                  Hey Digga here's my report from 2 years ago. I mostly post it cuz I saw midcoastmaineiac's comment about dive bars and Cuzzy's in Camden was an awesome townie bar (with great t-shirts).


                  But I really liked the cocktail at 40 Paper and in general thought the town was cute. I think I want to try Boothbay Harbor next time.

                  1. re: Joanie

                    Joanie - I used a bunch of your posts from up North, including the one you link to here. We came >this< close to checking out Cuzzy's (and couldn't make it in time for 40 Paper's much-lauded HH) especially there was so little open, but surprisingly, we had enough places to hit up. It did look fun in there - kinda goes against the squeaky-clean/wholesome feel of other places in town.

                    Like you, I'm a big order to burn off meals, we hiked up to Maiden's Cliff, Mt. Battie, Sears Island, Rockland Breakwater in some serious wind, and generally, all around the towns.

                    (I sound like a broken record, but I still miss your presence on the Boston board.)

                    1. re: digga

                      Haha, you're too kind. If you're going out west, I wrote up stuff for SD, LA and SEA (only the SD people cared) and am on Yelp a bit. Right now just waiting for *real* spring to kick in and hopefully some fun road trips. You been to Moxy in Portsmouth? Had a great drink and bite at their bar which I need to revisit.