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Mid-Coast Maine

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We'll be there for most of August. Any recommendations for Rockland, Rockport, Camden?

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We'll be there for most of August. Any recommendations for Rockland, Rockport, Camden?

I'd reiterate what I said somewhere above: take the ferry from Rockland harbor to Vinalhaven and seek out the Harbor Gawker and have their fish chowder, which I will remember till my dying day. If it turns out to be not so great, then I beg your pardon. When I've stayed in mid-coast Maine, I've always stayed at Oakland Seashore Cottages and Motel, or whatever they're calling themselves, and I cannot recommend anywhere else on earth as highly as I recommend that place. Their address is Rockport, but they're not really in Rockport, they're between Rockland and Rockport. It's a beautiful place, with little cabins perched on a low cliff along the shore of Penobscot Bay. Most of the cabins have tiny little kitchen facilities, and I've always taken most of my meals "at home" in the cottage. With my dog. And a view of the sea. Really lovely people run the place, and it's like stepping back into the 1940s. Really one of the most wonderful places to be in the whole world.

I started staying there way before such places had websites, although there were websites, but now of course they have one: CLICK!

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I've had lunch a few times at the Black Bull Tavern on the main drag in Rockland and found it to be very good. Friends have recommended Lily Bistro in Rockland, but I haven't been there. My husband and I did have a wonderful dinner at Primo last September. It is expensive, but the food, service and atmosphere were great. It was a kind of quiet mid-week night and just very nice.

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I've had lunch a few times at the Black Bull Tavern on the main drag in Rockland and found it to be very good. Friends have recommended Lily Bistro in Rockland, but I haven't been there. My husband and I did have a wonderful dinner at Primo last September. It is expensive, but the food, service and atmosphere were great. It was a kind of quiet mid-week night and just very nice.

Thank you very much. Has anyone been to Marcel's at the Samoset Resort or Natalie's in Camden?

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I'd reiterate what I said somewhere above: take the ferry from Rockland harbor to Vinalhaven and seek out the Harbor Gawker and have their fish chowder, which I will remember till my dying day. If it turns out to be not so great, then I beg your pardon. When I've stayed in mid-coast Maine, I've always stayed at Oakland Seashore Cottages and Motel, or whatever they're calling themselves, and I cannot recommend anywhere else on earth as highly as I recommend that place.

After eleven years, I've finally returned to mid-coast Maine. And this afternoon I took the ferry from Rockland to Vinalhaven, and sought out the Harbor Gawker, which hasn't changed much. The chowder I remembered as fish chowder is actually seafood chowder, although the seafood is predominantly fish, with some scallops and tiny shrimp. It was as good as I remembered. I got a cup of chowder and a lobster roll to go, and ate them at a picnic bench in the harbor parking lot, which was actually much lovelier than it sounds.

The chowder:IMG_4022.jpg

The lobster roll:

IMG_4027.jpg

The Harbor Gawker, cheerful and unprententious as they come:

IMG_4021.jpg

The view from my window at Oakland Seashore:

IMG_37711024x768.jpg

(That was Tuesday, unfortunately the only sunny day this week.)

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I'll add my two cents on Mid-Coast, as I've been going to Pemaquid Beach (in the Town of Bristol) for a quarter century.  Go past the exit for Boothbay and make a right at Damariscotta.

Pemaquid's more off the beaten path than Rockland, Camden, Bar Harbor and other popular spots on the coast.  If you have a Maine state quarter, the lighthouse on it is at the end of the peninsula.  

Best fish chowder and sticky buns I've ever had are at The Cupboard Cafe near Pemaquid Beach.  https://www.thecupboardcafe.com.  Family operation, makes their own bread for their sandwiches, their own desserts, everything.  You can take out homemade chicken pot pies on Wednesdays to cook at home.

Best local view with lobster is the Pemaquid Co-op.  Cheapest lobster if you are cooking yourself is at the New Harbor Co-op.  Prices vary every summer, but I've paid between $3.50 to $4.50 a pound for soft shells (not like crabs!) available in the summer.  A little less meat, but sweeter and easier to take apart.

Shaw's in New Harbor is an institution, with a great view of another working harbor, but it's been "meh" recently.  

 

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I'm headed to Bar Harbor with my parents and my cousin in late August. Any recommendations? 

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8 hours ago, Mark Dedrick said:

I'm headed to Bar Harbor with my parents and my cousin in late August. Any recommendations? 

Also check this thread, though there isn't anything recent.

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If you happen to be flying via Portland or driving along I-295, I would suggest stopping off at the Maine Beer Company just outside Freeport.

Small bustling tap room, outdoor seating, fridge filled with bottles to go. Good IPAs.

The brewery is a couple minutes down the road along Rt. 1 at Exit 20, so it's very easy to get to.

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20 hours ago, Mark Dedrick said:

I'm headed to Bar Harbor with my parents and my cousin in late August. Any recommendations? 

If Edan Macquaid ("Pizza Man") still haunts these pages, he'll be able to tell you just where to go.  Beal's was my standby for lobster, but it's been a few years.  If the Somesville Union Meeting House church pies are still running when you get there (usually through the third week in August or so), line up for those on Wednesday morning.

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Just got back from a week in Maine.  We flew from BWI to Portland, ME on Southwest, a direct flight which only takes about 80 minutes and then another 1 hour or so to Boothbay Harbor.  It's a pretty easy trip really.  I've posted my Portland review in the Portland, ME thread.

Freeport Area

Maine Beer Company:  The brewery is about 15-20 minutes along I-295 from Portland at exit 20 and then only a couple minutes drive down Rt. 1.  They are currently building an extension to the brewery, so the parking lot is a bit of a construction zone.  They have a small patio/deck area, a trailer style wood fired pizza oven, and a small tap room.  Near the door is a fridge loaded up with bottles of beer.  If you know what you want you could be in and out and back on the highway in 10 minutes.  I enjoyed the Lunch IPA (abv 7%) brewed in the East Coast style as well as the Mean Old Tom stout (abv 6.5%) an American style stout aged on vanilla beans.  I was not as impressed with Post Ride Snack session IPA (abv 4.9%).

Boothbay Harbor Area   

Boothbay Craft Brewery:  About a short drive outside of town just off Rt. 27.  The brewery has a garage style brewery and adjacent is an old farm house style tap house.  They also have a lovely beer garden with picnic tables and bocci court.  Order a tasting flight and head to the garden, on a beautiful Maine afternoon, tough to beat.  We thought the Ken Brown American Brown Ale (abv 5.6%) and the Thirsty Botanist Juicy IPA (abv 7%) were their two standout beers.  The rest were a little uninspired. The tap house is only open Tuesdays-Saturdays noon-4pm.  They sell 4 pack tall boy style cans to go.  We were pleasantly surprised and definitely worth an hour of your time. 

Mine Oyster:  Probably the best meal we had out on the town.  Although the bar didn't seem to be that high.  Or maybe we didn't go to the right places.  We had a late lunch on their small second floor deck overlooking the harbor.  Excellent Glidden Point oysters from the nearby Damariscotta River.  Solid fried haddock sandwich and portobello mushroom burger, which was actually more like a sandwich.  It was a pleasant place to have lunch.  Despite the expansive menu, I'd suggest sticking to the basics. 

Boothbay Lobster Wharf:  Our first night we wanted a quintessential sit by the harbor, have a lobster roll dinner.  This place fit the bill.  Other than the lobster roll, which was bland and boring with tough meat.  Kinda of a "what's the big deal with lobster rolls" moment.  I'd suggest going with the crab meat roll instead.  Otherwise, a cool spot.  Lots of picnic tables on the dock.  Order at a window and pick up the food on trays.  Decent beer, great views, live music on the weekends.  Unfortunately, a mediocre lobster roll.

Red Cup Coffee House:  Cute coffee shop, not very good latte.  Seemed to be the only game in town for coffee.

Eventide Specialties: A lovely little provisions shop.  The kind of place with jugs of olive oil and balsamic for tasting.  Large cheese selection and small deli and wine shop in the back.  But it will cost you, we bought a hunk of packaged halloumi cheese for $14, which would sell for about $7-$8 in DC.  

Downeast Ice Cream Factory:  Pretty much exactly what you want in a old timey, vacation town ice cream store.  And the ice cream was pretty good too.  Expect a line out the door in the evenings.     

Oddly we only found two farm stands, which were basically just huts with a small selection.  Even more surprising was the lack of fish mongers, other than the fresh lobster pounds along the harbor.  One place I went to scoffed at the idea that they would carry mussels.  Your best bet is Pinkham's Seafood, which is a good ways out of town along Rt. 27.  Otherwise, we found the local oysters to be excellent, especially if you like briny oysters.  My take away is go for the oysters, fresh lobster, and fried fish sandwiches.

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We had a fantastic time in Maine last month, and did a ton of hiking around Acadia during our stay in Bar Harbor. I wouldn't say that it's a great food city, but it was far better than I was expecting given what friends had told me, and it's far better than most touristy beach towns I've been to elsewhere in the US. 

Maine Beer Company - We flew in and out of Portland, and hit this place up on the drive up to Acadia. It's a nice taproom, and their beers are killer. 

Thurston's Lobster Pound - In Bernard near Southwest Harbor. We paired lunch here with a visit to the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. It's right on the water, and the lobster was fantastic. 

Jordan Pond House - I think this is the only restaurant actually in the National Park. Parking here during the summer can be very scarce, as the first time we tried to go here we had to change plans as we couldn't find any parking. Our second attempt worked better, we arrived early, and then did the hike around Jordan Pond before grabbing lunch. It was good. I had a very nice oyster stew, along with the signature popover, which fueled our hike to the Bubbles immediately after. 

Mount Desert Ice Cream - Very good ice cream. 

Side Street Cafe - We ate lunch here twice, and they have a fantastic lobster roll. They claim that there are two entire lobsters in each roll, and given how overstuffed they are I believe it. 

Havana - This is a Spanish-style restaurant on the south side of town, and we quite enjoyed it. The seafood paella was enormous and delicious. 

Parilla - When dining at Havana we noticed their outdoor less formal restaurant, Parilla, and returned there later in the week. It was very good. The menu is smaller, and more tapas-style, with a lot of the food coming off of the grill. 

West Street Cafe - We did dinner here, and this is the sort of place I expect to find in tourist beach towns. But my fried clam bellies were good, as was my clam chowder, and they had a nice beer list. 

Mache Bistro - Probably our best meal in Bar Harbor. Wonderful food, great service. The closest thing to fine dining that we experienced. 

Reading Room Restaurant - My least favorite meal. The dining room was felt really stuffy, and while the food was good, it was good enough to justify the high prices. You can tell that you would have wonderful views, but that's not a feature when it's dark out. This is probably the one place that I wouldn't recommend. 

2 Cats - Good for breakfast. 

Atlantic Brewing Company - Cool brewery, and worth a visit if you're into that sort of thing. 

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On 7/18/2018 at 4:16 PM, Tweaked said:

Just got back from a week in Maine.  We flew from BWI to Portland, ME on Southwest, a direct flight which only takes about 80 minutes and then another 1 hour or so to Boothbay Harbor.  It's a pretty easy trip really.  I've posted my Portland review in the Portland, ME thread.

Nice report. We stay in BBH every year as part of our camp visiting weekend trip, and always at the Topside Inn, which is an outstanding B&B. I agree that for a great Maine coastal town, BBH is not the best for food. We've found Mine Oyster to be good for oysters, meh for everything else. The Boathouse Bistro, owned by the same people, is also meh. Shannon's Unshelled near the footbridge has superlative lobster rolls. I second the rec for Eventide Specialties; it's a great store.

We had our best meal in town at the Thistle Inn. Cozy tavern with very good food. Heading out of town on 27, Karen's Hideaway is a fun spot for lob rolls and other seafood. Bet's Fish Fry in Boothbay Center has outstanding fish & chips. And of course a few miles up 27 is Wiscasset, home of Red's Eats, which does have amazing lobster rolls and other great offerings, such as the blueberry cake. Across the street from Red's is TREATS, a really good bakery that uses all kinds of seasonal fruits in muffins, scones, bread pudding, etc. 

Another good spot for lobster rolls just outside BBH near the Botanical Gardens is the Trevett Country Store, right by the the very unusual Trevett Swing Bridge (if you're into bridges).

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