Boston Restaurant Blog -- May, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
A large group of us went up to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park for Memorial Day Weekend, staying in Northeast Harbor on the southern side of the island. I go there nearly every year, so we often go back to the same restaurants, but this year we did try a dining spot on the island that we had never been to (as well as two other restaurants in Maine that were also first visits for me).
On Saturday morning, we drove up the Maine Turnpike, stopping in Winslow for lunch. The restaurant we went to, called Big G's Deli, was an interesting place, situated in the middle of nowhere in what looked like an old warehouse or storage shed. It was a madhouse when we arrived, with many people waiting in line and many more walking around the place. There was a long dining area to the left and a smaller one to the right, and it seemed like people were making their way back and forth between the two areas. But although Big G's was rather hectic experience, the sandwiches turned out to be excellent. Many of the sandwiches at Big G's have funny names, including the Dr. Johnny Fever, which is the one I ordered. It consisted of hot roast beef and pastrami with provolone cheese, all stuffed between two big pieces of homemade bread. And even though I ordered a half-sandwich, is was so big that I barely finished it. The fries were very tasty, and the pickle was extremely salty, but also extremely good. I'm glad to see that we finally found a good dining option between Augusta and Bangor rather than going all the way to Ellsworth, which is what we often do.
We soon arrived in Northeast Harbor, meeting up with everyone else, and took a leisurely walk around town before heading to the Docksider Restaurant for dinner. I have been to this Northeast Harbor seafood shack countless times, but perhaps never with so large a group. Everyone seemed to like their dishes, which ranged from whole lobsters to fried haddock to fried scallops to tuna melts to everything in between. It was an overall fun experience as usual at the Docksider, and I'm glad to see that the quality of the food is still pretty high there.
After a trip up Cadillac Mountain for yet another spectacular sunset, the rest of the evening was a quiet one. Sunday morning soon came around, and with it nearly perfect weather. We started off the day by grabbing some food at the Colonel's Restaurant in the center of Northeast Harbor and having an outdoor breakfast at the nearby Asticou Azalea Garden. I have never been a big fan of the restaurant part of the Colonel's, as the food has been inconsistent and the service spotty. But I love the bakery part in the front, as they have a variety of delicious donuts and croissants, as well as a number of other pastries, including some of the best hermits I have had anywhere. We stuck with chocolate donuts and chocolate croissants this time around, waiting on the hermits until the following day so that I could take some fresh ones home.
After spending some time on the other side of the island in Somesville and Southwest Harbor, we drove back to Northeast Harbor where we tried a fairly new place on Main Street called the Tan Turtle Tavern. We had heard that the Tan Turtle has been very popular, so much so that it may be taking business away from The Docksider and other places around town. And when we arrived there for lunch, it was pretty full. The restaurant had a pleasant, unpretentious atmosphere that bordered somewhere between a family dining spot and a gastropub. The food that we had was pretty good, though granted, we ordered pub grub (tasty and spicy chicken tenders, a decent though somewhat mushy Philly cheesesteak, very good fries), which makes it hard for us to truly judge the place. But others in our group who had been to the Tan Turtle a couple of times absolutely raved about both the lobster roll and the steak, so this does seem like a place worth checking out.
After leaving the Tan Turtle, three of us took a ride to Bubble Pond and Cadillac Mountain before heading to Bar Harbor for dinner as a group of five. Our destination was the Lompoc Cafe, which is one of my top 10 personal favorite restaurants in all of New England. Everything about the place makes me happy, from the mellow vibe to the eclectic music to the outdoor dining and bocce court to the friendly staff to the organic, locally-grown products used. Plus, they serve Coal Porter ale, which is one of my favorite beers, and also Island Ginger, which is another outstanding ale. We sat at a table near the bar and started with beer-battered asparagus (delicious) and clam chowder (almost like a stew) before moving on to the entrees. The falafel wrap was excellent, with freshly made falafel pieces stuffed in pita; the pesto pizza was also terrific, with a nice flatbread crust and plenty of basil and oil; the ham and cheese sandwich was something special, with freshly made bread and the thickly cut ham. And the Southern-style salad was fresh and healthy, with locally grown organic vegetables mixed with chicken. It was all very good, and our servers couldn't have been nicer. There's a reason why I always think about this place when I'm in between trips to Acadia.
After another quiet night in Northeast Harbor, we to ready to leave for home, stopping once again at the Colonel's for some takeout breakfast food, then drove down to Boothbay Harbor in the Mid Coast section of Maine. For those who haven't been, Boothbay Harbor is a tacky, cheesy place that is geared toward tourists, but its location near the end of a scenic peninsula is tough to beat. And they also have numerous lobster pounds and seafood shacks, especially on the less touristy east side of town, which is where we went. Our lunch spot was the Boothbay Lobster Wharf, a classic Maine lobster pound that had a steamer right at the entrance to the restaurant. We almost opted for the outdoor deck, but the winds off the water were chilly (it was 57 degrees there, as opposed to 80 degrees inland), so we sat in the semi-enclosed dining area next to the deck. Neither of us were up for lobster, so we ordered fried clams (too greasy, but still tasty), a cheeseburger (also too greasy), onion rings (probably frozen, but not greasy at all and very good), and a fish sandwich. I saved the best for last here, as the fish sandwich was tremendous; a huge chunk of mouthwatering fried haddock that the hamburger roll could only partly cover. The fish sandwich, (of which the fish was inexplicably shaped like the state of Florida, by the way), was perhaps the best single item I had on the entire trip, and was the perfect way to end another journey to Mount Desert and Acadia National Park.
Of course I'm counting the days until my next trip to Maine, but it could be awhile. Perhaps a drive to Portland, Kennebunkport, or Ogunquit will be in the works shortly. If so, I'll surely have some more Maine restaurants to talk about soon.
Sadly, the Tan Turtle Tavern burned down in a fire on Friday, January 23, 2009. According to the Bangor Daily News, the owner does plan to rebuild. We truly wish them the best of luck and hope they are up and running again as soon as possible.
Posted on 2/3/09
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