Tag Archives: acadia

Maine Take 2: River House in Portsmouth, NH

18 Jun

One nice thing about road tripping to Maine from the TriState area is you drive right through Portsmouth, NH. Portsmouth is a beautiful town where you could probably spend a full vacation if you want to. In my family, however, it has always been a stop along the way.  We would get out of the car after about 5 hours driving up from Jersey, and as kids we went to the Children’s Museum to play before having lunch in town.

Now, as an adult, we skip right to the lunch and spend some time walking around the town. There are a number of restaurants lined up along the water, and this time we decided to try River House.  It has beautiful views and it’s great to be able to sit outside.

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And dream about the houses across the water.

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And watch the boats and the bridge. It’s really quite lovely.

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Their menu is extensive and varied.

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We started with the warm lobster artichoke dip. Lobster and artichokes are 2 of my favorite food, so I was thrilled.

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And I loved that it came with big ol’ chunks of lobster in it.

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We also tried something on a skewer.  I wish I remembered what this was… but 2 years later, it has evaporated (and we already know about the fate of the notebook I bought).

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One person in our party got The Cowboy Burger, which was dusted with Cowboy Ranch seasoning, chargrilled, topped with spicy Pepper Jack cheese on a toasted Brioche roll, finished with crisp onion straws, and a side of their house made Chipotle ketchup. He really enjoyed this burger.

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We also got a swiss burger with sweet potato fries.

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And my sister and I split The Tall Ships Plate, which was a 6 inch sweet Maine lobster roll on a grilled brioche bun with a cup of chowder and some sweet potato fries.

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The lobster roll was made the way I like it… on a roll with plenty of butter, one leaf of lettuce, and big chunks of lobster that weren’t drowning in mayo.  It was very good, but I can’t say it was the best I’ve had.

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The chowder was hearty and flavorful, but so creamy that I think we only had a few bites each.

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This is a good restaurant to satisfy a lot of different palates (they even have a gluten free menu now!) with gorgeous views and very good food. We really enjoyed ourselves here, and I’m sure that has a lot to do with the beautiful weather and views.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

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Maine Take 2: DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant- Portland

15 Jun

In Portland, restaurant options are growing leaps and bounds every day (I hear it’s grown a lot in just the 2 years since I’ve been… looking forward to finding out TONIGHT!)

But one restaurant has been there as long as I can remember (Wow! 1954 according to their website): DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant.

Yes.. floating. (But only floating since 1982… Happy 30th Anniversary of floatation!)

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I’m pretty sure I have never been in this restaurant, but it looks exactly as you would think you would remember it. Somewhere between a cruise ship and lake cabin.  And we were the youngest people in the restaurant by at least 20 years.

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The menu is large, with a focus on seafood (as it should be).

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We started with an appetizer of angel hair spaghetti with scallops, shrimp, and artichokes.  This dish really just focused on the ingredients, but the ingredients were very good, so we enjoyed it.  

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We also had some burgers and a pizza.

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Both of which were fair.  Nothing special, but not too bad either.

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I also picked up this handy dandy little notebook that came with a pen. I wrote down all my notes about everywhere we dined throughout the trip, and decided to keep it with me to continue taking notes for the blog. There are always delays between dining and writing, and with my swiss cheese memory, I thought the notebook would help.  And then… in typical Sara form… I forgot where I put the notebook when I came back. Go me.

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DiMillo’s is a classic place. I wouldn’t say run there, but it’s a fine choice for a unique experience of dining, literally, on the water. You may want to wait a few years though, until your hair turns grey, so you can feel like you fit in a little better. And if you’re in Portland, I’d say hit up one of the restaurants we went to on our earlier trip like J’s Oyster or Fore Street.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Maine Take 2: The Quarter Deck, Bar Harbor, ME

15 Jun

Somehow, in just 4 days on our August 2010 trip to Maine, we managed to stop in Portsmouth, NH, spend time in Blue Hill, explore a bit of Portland, and make our way up to Bar Harbor.  I was ambitious back then (ok… I’m still ambitious… with just four days this time around we’re flying into Portland and spending 1 night there, 1 night in Camden, then 2 nights in Boothbay Harbor. Who says vacation requires being sedentary?)

On our trip up to Bar Harbor, we stopped at a classic restaurant right on the harbor, Quarterdeck. Fine dining is not exactly the mantra of Bar Harbor, and the Quarterdeck doesn’t make any promises of being fancy.

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But it sure has some absolutely gorgeous views.

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Right there in the center is my favorite ship, the Margaret Todd, a 4 masted red sailboat that I’ve been on twice and loved every moment.

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Some menu perusal…

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We started with some cocktails, mostly of the blueberry variety.

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All were quite good!

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And one of our favorite Maine breweries: Allagash.

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We started off with the calamari, which were nice and crispy but not overly interesting.

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We also split some crab cakes, which were decent but nothing to write home about.

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I got some coconut shrimp, which I was a big fan of.  Flavorful, succulent shrimp with a crispy coconut shell.  

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We got some burgers, which were… fair.

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And a very fresh salad.

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Is the Quarterdeck a phenomenal restaurant… well no.  But the views are exceptional, the service friendly, the food good enough.

It’s a really great place to grab a drink and watch the world pass by.

Total Noms: 6.5 out of 10

Nomming Thru Maine: Mid-Coast (Lincolnville, Camden, and Rockland)

21 Jul

After Acadia, we drove back down the coast a bit to the “Midcoast” region (we were in Lincolnville, Camden, and Rockland).  This is the area I was most familiar with from family vacations growing up.

There is one main street through Camden right next to the beautiful harbor (where we later took a great kayak tour).   A must-stop in Camden is Cappy’s Chowder House.

“Good food served here” is right!

Mike got a side order of cole slaw.  It grew on me.

We started with a salad that I remember enjoying but don’t remember ordering.

Mike chose… you guessed it! A burger. He enjoyed.

I was having a tough time deciding, but when the waitress said the lobster mac and cheese was her favorite, I was sold.  And it was SO. GOOD.  Wooooey.

Overall, Cappy’s is dependably good and a very New Englandy restaurant.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

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Continuing our drinking fest, we stopped at Cellardoor Winery in Lincolnville.

Turns out they are not yet planted for long enough to produce their own wine.

So they just mix their own.  And whomever is choosing this mix has a great palate. They also did a very nice job decorating their tasting room (they are building a big facility across the street).

We were especially intrigued by their chairs made from tractor seats and axe handles.  Quite comfy actually!

We enjoyed almost every single bottle we tried (and it was a healthy sampling with many to choose from).  We actually wound up buying a bottle.

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In Rockland there is a great sandwich shop called The Brown Bag that I grew up going to.

Their specials menu included a grilled trip cheese sandwich with avocado, tomato, onions, sprouts, and pesto mayo.

It was delicious!  The perfect balance of toastiness and cheesiness.

Mike chose the Brown Bag Ham Sandwich (with Grilled Ham, Havarti, Capers, Artichoke Hearts & Special Sauce)

For the road, we got a whoopie pie (which The Brown Bag is famous for).  Delicious.

Overall, The Brown Bag is just a perfect sandwich place.  Everything is delicious, fresh, and in a great atmosphere.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

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We stumbled upon a specialty shop called Fiore that sells artisan olive oils and balsamic vinegar.  I LOVED going around and sampling every single thing in the store.  Wound up taking home an 18 year aged balsamic, a blackberry ginger balsamic, and an olive oil that tasted SOOOOO good but I can’t remember which one it was (WHOOPS!)

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Our final special restaurant stop of the trip was Primoin Rockland (it’s actually right before the border of Owl’s Head).  You will have to forgive this review for lacking in detail in some cases… we MAY have had a lot to drink by this time.  MAYBE 🙂

Primo is all about sourcing their food from what is fresh and local.

We sat upstairs and it was beautifully decorated.

We started with a chef tasting of asparagus cold soup shooters and a tartare that was good, but I can’t remember what it was.  D’oh!

We ordered the wild boar carpaccio.  It was delicious.

Mike had a roast chicken with bacon.  It was so tender and yummilicious.

I had the Sautéed scaloppini of Pork “Saltimbocca” served on a bed of roast garlic mashed potato layered with wilted garden spinach, prosciutto and a sage, mushroom~Madiera jus.  HOLY COW! (Or… Pig…) Nom Nom Nom

For dessert, Mike chose the artful parfait.

I went with the Warm Belgium Chocolate “Budino” ckae with mint stracicella gelato and fresh berries.  I don’t know what Budino nor stracicella is… but I’m curious why it’s Warm Belgium and not Belgian… but who cares about grammar when you’re eating delicious chocolate?

The final bite from the chef was a chocolate… thing… Man this is when the night is really fuzzy.  I remember enjoying it, but NOT the candied ginger orange peel to the left on the plate.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with Primo.  Everything was quite delicious and it was a great place to have a romantic meal.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Nomming Thru Maine: The Stops Along the Way (Moody’s Diner and Young’s Lobster Pound)

19 Jul

We made two stops on our Maine Roadtrip that don’t exactly fit into any of the town posts.  They are the stops in the middle that make driving OH SO worth it!

A “must stop” is Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro on Rt. 1 (you have to take the coastal route from Portland to Acadia, but it’s good enough to add a bit of travel time).  Moody’s Diner began in 1927 when they built a few cabins to offer cheap lodging and soon expanded to a cute little diner.  That cute little diner still looks like it belongs in 1927 but with some modern touches. 

My dad has talked about Moody’s cinnamon buns for as long as I can remember and it was a routine stop for him when he was going to college in Maine.  They are usually sold out by late morning in high season, so I had never experienced these wonders.  This time, however, we were there during the very first weekend of the “season” (before it gets busy), and we managed to secure one right around lunch time.  It was DAMN good, but it had the unfortunate experience of having to be compared to the cinnamon bun from Five Fifty Five from just a few days before.  It wasn’t quite as delicious, but it was still quite delicious.

Mike went for the turkey club.  He voted it an exceptionally good turkey club.

I went with the old fashioned Yankee Pot Roast.  I was quite concerned about this choice because good pot roast can be great but there ain’t nothing worse than bad pot roast.  This… this was FAN.FREAKING.TASTIC pot roast.  It looked so humble… but it was just so good.

Overall, Moody’s diner does home cooked comfort food right.  They don’t get too artsy with their food styling nor do they make anything trendy.  They just make great diner food.  Really great diner food.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

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Another stop on the stop was Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast (we hit this heading back south from Acadia when we were heading to Camden).  My family stumbled on Young’s years ago and I couldn’t wait to go back.  It’s a very authentic lobster pound that pulls their stash in right from the water.

(Side Note: Belfast as a town wasn’t exactly a shopping destination last time I was there, so I was excited to see that it has become a total artist destination.) 

They have their lobster in big tanks and sell a 1 & 1/4 pound lobster plus steamers and potato chips for less than $20.  Awesome.

They supply a good deal of lobster beyond just their restaurant… so they have a lot of tanks.

Mike saw Moxie in the fridge and decided to try it.  Unfortunately, neither of us knew it tasted like root beer… and neither of us like root beer.  Oh well! Now we know.  (As I’m writing this with Mike sitting next to me he saw the picture and reiterated, “Moxie is disgusting”)

It took far too much time to get our food… though any time I wait for fresh cooked lobsters and steamers while waiting on a beautiful doc is too long!

Again, I think it’s pretty hard to screw up steamed lobster, but the steamers at Young’s just set this one apart.  The lobster couldn’t be fresher, of course, and then you have the scenery…

Overall, Young’s is just too good to drive right past (even though it’s easy to miss the sign to show you where to turn).  A must stop.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

The Coach Stop Inn – Bar Harbor, ME

16 Jul

When I went up to Acadia with my best friend, Esther, about 5 years ago, we randomly found this little Bed and Breakfast on the main road before you enter the park.  It was called the Coach Stop Inn and we just fell in love with this simple, quaint little Bed and Breakfast. 

I knew I wanted to go back here when Mike and I were in town and had heard it was under new ownership.  I was nervous that this change of hands would change everything, but it was just as wonderful as I remembered it… now under the expert skills of Deborah and her adorable pup, Leon.

My first day I enjoyed cherry turnovers.  These were SO good.  Expertly flaky and the cherries were just sweet enough to retain their tartness.

Another day there were poppy seed muffins to start.  I couldn’t believe how good these were.  I’m usually not a huge fan, but I could not get enough of these.  Even at this moment I am drooling a little bit remembering how good these were. Love at first bite.

On almost every morning, Deborah served a martini of fresh cut fruit with a flavored balsamic vinegar.  All were delicious and beautifully presented.

Another day we had yogurt with fruit and granola and it was delicious.

Instead of fresh fruit one day, we were served delicious smoothies.

One of the first main courses were eggs and home fried potatoes.  It was delicious and tasted so fresh.

We had a hearty breakfast one morning with egg stuffed in some sort of baked good and stewed tomatoes.  I wish I remembered exactly what this was… but it was too long ago 😦

On our last day we had pistachio stuffed french toast.  OMG was this good! It was a lovely way to end our stay there.

I just love this B&B and I’m so glad I got to go back.  The food is great and it feels so homey.  Deborah is an excellent host, the rooms are comfortable, there are fresh baked cookies every evening, and the main house has a really nice main room with books, games, a piano, and a TV with DVDs.  If you are in the area, I highly recommend staying here!

Nomming thru Maine: Acadia National Park/Bar Harbor- Part 2

14 Jul

After planning so well for our restaurant stops in Portland, I really didn’t have many foodie plans for Bar Harbor.  We mostly stumbled upon places through the week.

One night we were looking for an early bite, however, most places didn’t open up until after 5:30.  One place we did find that was open was Rupununi

We started with the “empanadas” which were unlike any we had ever had before.  It was described as “Traditional Argentinian style, hand made empanadas stuffed with lobster, roast corn & cheese.”  It was like an empanada went to France and mated with a croissant.  But it was delish.

Mike ordered the Fisherman’s Fried Sampler with scallops, haddock, and Maine shrimp.  I think Mike maxed out on the fried food, however, the scallops were heavenly.  The rest was ehhhh. 

I went with the Lobster Scampi which came with fresh Maine lobster, artichokes, capers, cherry tomatoes, and spinach over linguini.  This was AMAZING!  You don’t see chunks of lobster like this outside of Maine.

Later that evening we were strolling through town and ducked into an ice cream store to buy some fudge.  I was so blown away by the following sign that I just had to try some of this ice cream flavor. (It was actually not half bad, though nothing I’d ever want as more than a taste)

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

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Unfortunately, our stay was very rainy, however, we made it over the Jordan Pond House one rainy afternoon for tea.  The location was a beautiful, old building right on the lake.

Here was the menu:


I went with the tea and popovers.


These were OUTRAGEOUSLY good popovers.

Mike went with the lobstah chowdah.

It looked kinda oily, so I was concerned, however, there were solid chunks of lobster meat that were as big as the bowl’s circumference.  And the taste was just sensational.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10 (for the afternoon tea anyway)

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On one of our last evenings in Bar Harbor, Mike and I went to Reel Pizza Cinerama, which is a movie theater that serves pizza (that smelled AMAZING) and had couches and little tables in front of seats to eat from.  We just had the beer.  It was a fun experience!

For dinner, we took a TripAdvisor recommendation and tried out Cafe This Way.  

I appreciated the design aesthetic on the ceiling.

The bread came out and smelled delicious. (It was fair)

We ordered the smoked duck wrapped scallops for an appetizer.  They were pretty good, but it wasn’t quite as ducky or scallopy as I would have hoped for.

We ordered a Pinot Noir while we were there that we enjoyed so much that I took a picture.  Look out for Angeline!

I guess I was on a duck kick and I ordered the roasted duck with spiced pears and blueberry jus.  This dish was dissapointing.  First, there were only 2 little slivers of spiced pear on the plate (with that heaping portion of duck!) and the blueberry jus wasn’t very interesting and the duck just wasn’t as flavorful as I’m used to (perhaps it was the type of duck this restaurant uses?)

Mike chose the grilled lamb sirloin that was served on a goat cheese, cheddar, onion, and jalapeno quesadilla with cilantro mint chimichurri.  I’m pretty sure he declared this just average.  Nothing like the lamb from Fore Street a few nights before.  

Overall, we were pretty disappointed by this place.  Nothing was bad, just underwhelming.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10


Nomming Thru Maine: Acadia National Park/Bar Harbor- Part 1

12 Jul

One of my absolute favoritist parts of my favoritist place is Acadia National Park.  It’s on Mount Desert Island and it contains some of the most beautiful, serene vistas you can imagine.  On the island is a little town called Bar Harbor.  It is as quaint as New England towns come and is right on the beautiful harbor.  At low tide, there is a sand bar that connects it to an island, and at high tide that sand bar completely disappears.  

(The picture below is a view from Cadillac Mountain of the town of Bar Harbor)

When we first arrived in town, we strolled the streets of Bar Harbor (prounounced BAH HAH-BAH btw) and set up our tickets for a sunset cruise on the Margaret Todd for the following evening.  We asked a local where she usually eats personally, and she told us most locals go to Geddy’s, which was down the street.  And away we went…

It has a rustic pub feel with license plates used as their main decoration.  The bar seemed to have mostly local regulars while the diners appeared to be mostly tourists.

It started off well enough when we found Thunder Hole ale made by the Bar Harbor Brewing Company (which actually merged with The Atlantic Brewing Company).  (Thunder Hole is an awesome spot in Acadia where the water has dug such a deep hole in the rock that it sounds like thunder as the waves rise into it)

And I found some of my FAVORITE Blueberry Beer (also made by Bar Harbor Brewing Company).  This place even floated wild Maine blueberries in it!  (Notice the half colored in table matt below it… yes… we’re big kids at heart… always)

Mike started off with the lobster chowder.  It was good and creamy.

He then graduated to a lobster roll.  It had good chunks of meat in it but I think we both agreed that we prefer the unadulterated plain ol’ steamed lobster.  (I think this place may use frozen lobster though… it just didn’t have as much flavor and I thought it should have).

I chose the scallops.  Now I was VERY, VERY careful to inform the waitress that I was VERY allergic to peppers.  She verified with the chef that this was one meal I could eat.  The sweet potato mash was delicious, but the scallops, again, were just a bit bland.  (Frozen perhaps?)

Best of all… see that little biscuit next to the mash?  I took one bite and my mouth went on fire.  I then asked the waitress for milk (which she took her sweet ass time getting) and asked her if there were in fact peppers in the biscuit.  To which she answered “Are jalapeno peppers a pepper?”

Yes… dip shit.  Now please get me my milk.

Grrrrrrr.

Total Nom Points: FAIL

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After enjoying our beer tour so much in Portland and enjoying our Bar Harbor Brewing Co. beers so much the night before (best part of the meal!), we decided to visit the downtown “brewery” on the following (rainy) day.  Turns out the main brewery is actually on the northern part of the island and this was a store front with a tasting room.  But hey… who doesn’t like a tasting room?

We got to try a few of their beers and some sodas, however, the stand-outs we enjoyed were the Manly Men Beer Club set.  We were especially fond of the Barleywine variety.  We actually did wind up doing the full brewery tour later that same day (after a stop at a winery! We’re such lushes).  We sampled about a dozen beers and fell in absolute love with the special Honey Bragget beer.

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Asking locals about their favorite places to eat is always a favorite past time of mine when traveling.  We were at a Bed and Breakfast (full details on that to come) and a couple who were also staying there told me about this lobster house on the other side of the island that was sensational.  Beal’s Lobster Pier is in Southwest Harbor.  

They have the quintessential lobster tank where you point to (or if you’re daring… grab) your dinner.

The man behind the tank was nice enough to show off a three pounder.  Sorry big guy… I know the real good lobster is never the big ones.  1-1.5 pounds is perfect for me.

It was EXTREMELY cold in their little outdoor tented area, but luckily they had a heater that I stood directly under until our food came out.

Finally, I got the steamers I was so missing at J’s in Portland.  And they were good!

The lobster couldn’t have been simpler.  Just a big red delicious bastard in all his glory.  

Overall, Beal’s is worth the drive (probably no more than an hour from even the most tucked away parts of Acadia, and only about 30 minutes from our B&B).  It’s so Maine. It’s so quaint. It’s so beautiful. And it’s SO delicious!

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10