Maine Vacation, Part II: The food.

7 Aug

Oh, food. I love you. I love you so much. And what makes you even better is finding you on my plate in some amazing place I’ve never been before. While in Maine, I came across many of these places. Some of them were just okay. The others? Well, let’s just get started talking about them because they were just so freaking good. I’m writing about the top three places we ate at. There’s some complex mathematical equation I use to calculate it all out, but all you need to know is that it is basically a combination of atmosphere, taste and awesomeness.

The cottage where we stayed was about a 40 minute drive or so from Bar Harbor. The way that I drive anyway. (You can read about the cottage in Maine Vacation, Part 1: The Cottage.). l had never been this far up into Maine, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect from it. Bar Harbor has many different venues in which to sit and eat. So many, in fact,  that I was  drawn to one place while walking out of another. I am constantly thinking about my next meal, even when already eating/just having finished a meal.

Number 3: Morning Glory Bakery

We had stopped in at a bakery on a smaller side street after wandering around town for an hour or two. It was lunch time, I hadn’t eaten anything substantial yet. At this point, a bakery with sandwiches, cookies, breads and chocolate things was as good of a place as any.

It appeared to be the right choice, because walking in the door we were greeted by the sound of a Sleater-Kinney album being blasted out from the kitchen where about a half dozen women were busy baking breads, pies and other flour-based treasures. A woman powered feminist bakery in the middle of Maine? This was clearly my kind of place. I was especially excited to have stumbled through these doors as I was wearing my Wild Flag t-shirt I purchased recently at a show. I was hoping that perhaps someone there would make the connection. (No one verbalized their appreciation of this to me, btw.)

The shop had a really simple set up, and it was great to be able to see the workers in the back actively baking in the huge kitchen.

Joey and I split a sandwich. It contained local chévre, honey basil vinaigrette, asparagus and other local greens. We also got some dessert items, a Mexican wedding cookie and an earl grey lavender tea cookie. The food was good. They had good drinks (Lavender infused lemonade and an orange blossom limeade) . Excellent music and friendly people. That’s saying a lot more than most places, so that’s why Morning Glory Bakery gets the number 3 slot on this list.

Number 2: Lompoc Cafe

Walking outside after our sandwich, I looked across the street and saw a restaurant I needed to go to based on appearances alone. But, having just finished a meal, I knew Joey wouldn’t be up having a follow-up lunch right at that moment. We walked up closer to it to further inspect their spot, and noticed that inside their enclosed outdoor seating area was a bocce court. Cute, right? Right.

We had decided to come back later in the week, as it was only our first full day exploring here, and we would do dinner.

Fast forward to later in the week when we went back….

It was a clear night with a slight chill in the air. The festivities of the fourth of July week had been winding down. The crowds had lessened over the past few days and the town was a bit easier to navigate around.

No more tripping over oblivious parents pushing their obviously-too-old-to-pushed-in-a-stroller children in strollers. Almost equally as impassible as those courteous folks stopping in the middle of the sidewalk without warning because they had never seen a print of a lobster on a dish towel in the window of a shop and had to stare at it right at that particular moment in case it mysteriously was taken away as easily as it appeared to them. But I digress, this particular blog post isn’t about all the clueless things people do that piss me off. Back to the restaurant part…

We walked into Lompoc and were disheartened to see that there were no tables available outside. We sat inside next to a slightly opened window and a pair of opened french doors that looked out onto the people at the outside tables enjoying their nice weather and relaxing atmosphere. We ordered our drinks and started to get settled into our seats at the restaurant’s equivalent of the children’s table at holiday dinner. I ordered a Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale, which had been my beverage of choice for the week. 

Our drinks arrived and I had a sip. I had really grown to enjoy the taste of this particular blueberry ale. I noticed that the table I had been stalking through the window was in fact leaving as I had been predicting in my head. I jumped on the chance to grab it away from anyone else that may have also been surveying the table in the manner I had been. We were seated adjacent to the bocci court and beneath a group of trees strung with lights. Dinnertime perfection.

We met our new waitress (who was equally as enjoyable as the inside waitress we abandoned moments earlier) and I knew it was going to be a good experience. She had on a flowy dress with cowboy boots and some cute hair accessories. Her personality matched her impeccable style and I wanted to be her best friend. She was one of the people I interacted with up there who made it easy for me to convince myself that my inevitable living in Maine would be an easy transition to make. We got right to the good part after exchanging pleasantries and ordered our food. Deviled eggs for an appetizer.

I write “Deviled eggs for an appetizer” like it’s no big thing. It’s a big thing. I love deviled eggs, and places that serve deviled eggs. They should be on every menu everywhere. The things you can do with deviled eggs are endless. Go on the internet and look it up. You’ll see. Endless.

These particular eggs were deviled in a way that included preserved lemon and chive. Enough said. Delicious.

We also got some house-pickled cucumbers and dilly beans. Because when you are in Maine you will see that dilly beans, unlike deviled eggs, are actually on every menu of every place you go to.

For our entrees, I got Shrimp and Grits and Joey got scallops.

The entrees were good. Not mind blowing but better than the usual fare you’d find in a seaside town when  you’re eating something other than lobster or clams. Or ice cream.

The place had a great vibe. I would definitely be a regular there if I lived in the Mount Desert Island area. Good stuff for sure, but still not number one on this list. Why? Read on…

Number 1 : Chase’s Daily

On a day trip driving along the coast, we traveled south on Route 1 for a few hours, stopping at antique barns and various other seemingly interesting locations. We eventually ended up in Belfast, a small coastal town with old brick buildings lining the town center. We walked around, stopped in at the “green” home goods store, walked by “the oldest active shoe store in America” and continued up a hill.

We were looking for a place to eat, as it was lunch time, and we walked by this great looking storefront with large glass windows. Inside there were tables set up and people eating. We went in, there was a wait, but were seated right away, as the other folks waiting all had larger parties and there was a table for two available  (Reason to not have children #153).

We got a seat at this table…

We ate these three things:

1. Salad picked fresh from the farm that morning and delivered early in the day. Topped with edible flowers and packed with incredible flavor.

2. My lunch, which consisted of cheese, mustard and fresh greens. Simple and delicious.

3. Joey’s lunch, which was sautéed greens (spinach and swiss chard I think) topped with fresh herbs, radish,  goat cheese and a bit of fresh lime juice. Amazing.

After we completed our lunch, which I didn’t want to finish because then there would be no more insane goodness to munch on, we headed to the back of the restaurant.

Why did we go to the back? Because in the back of the restaurant, past the cheese case and fresh baked goods, you will find a farmer’s market selection of the all the fresh vegetables, greens, flowers and potted plants picked and packed that morning for you to purchase and enjoy at home.

Here I am holding an enormous bunch of mixed greens that cost only $3.50. ($3.50!!!!)

Here are some close up shots joey took…

Bunches of veggies wrapped in twine and placed in wood crates and wire baskets. Labeled with scrap pieces of wood and priced by hand with perfect font in black marker. (I love nicely fonted things, as also discussed here.)

Nothing was wilted. Nothing was dirty. It’s like having a home garden where you get the freshest ingredients every day but someone does all the work for you and all you get to do is enjoy it and create recipes.

There are plenty of other pictures that were taken on this visit. However, Joey decided to go back and do a photo project on the farm, restaurant, owners, and employees. When that is released I’ll post a link here for all y’all to see and that’s why I’m not posting anymore from this place, even though I really really want to.

This place really made me appreciate what it takes to live a life in an area such as this. Here, “buying local” isn’t just a tagline people use to make themselves feel better about themselves, it’s a means of survival. Everyone in the community shares what they make with one another, buying and selling with pride between neighbors and friends. It honestly does take a village in these parts to succeed and thrive, and it’s an inspiring thing to find a place where it works.

This place is a model for what restaurants and communities should strive to incorporate into their daily routines. The model works, and when you taste the food, you’ll see exactly how.

Oh, and yes, of course I got lobster while up in Maine as well, it just really wasn’t the highlight of any of my culinary adventures from this particular week, not with the above mentioned places to dine at.

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