Whoever would have thought that my blog A Sophisticated Palate Becomes Meals on Wheels highlighting some of Maine’s finest dining establishments would trigger such emotional reactions? It seems as if I have created an argument between two childhood friends, both relatively recent transplants to the fine state of Maine via Pittsburgh, PA, over whose peninsula has the better restaurants. I’ve also been accused of “misleading newbies” and omitting some highly recommended restaurants in the Boothbay and Damariscotta regions.
I’ve been informed that Ricetta’s in South Portland has sadly closed its doors but their location in Falmouth has been renovated and is still hopping. One of the best cooks I know was insulted that I didn’t mention dining at his home as a resume enhancer! I’m sure my mom is rolling over in her grave, as she was certainly capable of cooking gourmet food and was well aware of and used all of the fancy herbs. My apologies go out to anyone else I may have offended! :-)
Next, I would like to come clean and acknowledge the fact that we unfortunately haven’t been back to Maine in almost three years. I’ve been informed by my talented starving artist friend Greg Laderer that the following Boothbay restaurants should be added to one’s must visit list: McSeagulls, The Boathouse Bistro & Tapas Bar and The Thistle Inn. Additionally our good friend and all around handy man Ken Smith has informed me that Ports of Italy and The Baker’s Way should be added to the list as well. Ken also recommends King Eiders and The Damariscotta River Grill in the quaint town of Damariscotta.
Disclaimer #1: I hereby absolve myself from any responsibility for any bad reactions to tainted seafood, ecoli, or salmonella poisoning at any of their recommended locations!:-)
Lastly, I would like to make up for my omissions by telling you our Boothbay story. My wife used to enjoy family vacations as a little girl in the Boothbay Harbor region. In the 1980’s I was working in accounting trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I had a good job but I wasn’t enjoying it. I remember taking the job and my dad’s reaction was “Are you sure you are going to be happy?” I wasn’t. One day, Jen said “What do you think about taking our next vacation to Boothbay Harbor?” I had never been north of Hadley, Massachusetts where my mom was from but I loved the New England area. We ended up spending a week in Boothbay. I was overcome by the scenery. We took tourist boat cruises on the harbor, ate fresh saltwater taffy made at the corner store and ate our fill of lobster and various other seafood delights. I was a bug-eyed tourist with an old Kodak instamatic camera. All of a sudden, upon returning home I realized why I had gone to art school and what I wanted to paint.
I completed my first Maine painting, a couple hours here and a couple hours there after long days in accounting. The painting was of Boothbay Harbor and it hung over our mantle in Bethesda, MD. I had several nice compliments on it and a few questions to the effect of “What are you doing in accounting?” I started to buy books about Maine on my lunch hour and we both gradually came to the same conclusion that a move to Maine for me to pursue my art career would be an exciting and worthwhile change. Here is my first Maine painting, Boothbay Harbor.
We used to frequent Robinson’s Wharf in Boothbay, a classic lobster pound, with the freshest lobster, shrimp and clams you could ask for. Working tugboats were usually moored right at the dock that made for colorful subjects in many of my shots. From there we would usually travel further down the peninsula and I would photograph the quiet little harbor of Southport.
Don’t overlook Damariscotta and the next peninsula up the coast. Shaw’s Wharf in New Harbor is just one of several dining spots. If you go all the way to the end of the peninsula you will run into Pemaquid Point. There is a restaurant overlooking the rocks with an expansive view of Pemaquid Lighthouse. At low tide you can walk way out onto striated rock formations that tempt you toward the water. Be careful, the rocks get slippery with the algae and tragically a number of people have lost their lives trying to venture out too far. Here is the painting I did of Pemaquid Light early on in my career.
Heading back up the peninsula you come across the tiny town of Round Pond. It has an old fashioned general store that is nostalgic and a must stop. A great place after a big meal to take a nap in the car while your better half does a little shopping.
That about wraps it up for now. I hope if you’re heading north that the weather cooperates, the leaves are at their peak and the price of lobster is way down. Enjoy!
PS – Don’t forget to try:
Mabel’s Lobster Claw in Kennebunkport – large portions of the freshest seafood, great chowder and lobster rolls.
Bandaloop – the #1 rated restaurant in Kennebunkport. The Maine Sharp Cheddar Quesadilla is a simple but outstanding surprise, with cheese baked onto the outside of the quesadilla to provide that instant burst of flavor on every bite!
Robinhood Free Meetinghouse – down the peninsula from Bath near Georgetown. “From Wienerschnitzel to Saltimbocca” and more! Wonderful menu.
Abel’s Lobster pound in Mount Desert Island – elevated views over the water with unbeatable Maine seafood. Family friendly but we witnessed a celebrity/politician and his family enjoying their seafood experience there too!
Disclaimer #2: This review is the opinion of the artist and it most certainly does not intentionally exclude any of the other many fine restaurants in the state of Maine, nor does it by its omissions make any negative implications! :-)