Posts tagged ‘Restaurants’

July 30, 2012

Great Maine Breakfast Reflects Logging Camp Past

Maine logging camp cooks

The standards for a great breakfast in Maine are high, hearkening back to the logging camps.

Lumbermen would refuse to work if they didn’t like the food.  The output of the cooks, whose reputations grew among workers in the Maine woods, was as much a factor as pay in selecting where to work.

Camp cook culinary renown grew with mastery of breads, pastries, pie, and, of course, baked beans – which hearken back even further to Maine’s Native Americans, the Wabanaki, who prepared them with maple syrup and bits of venison or other meat.

That tradition of a hearty breakfast is alive and well today for visitors to Acadia National Park at Jeannie’s at 15 Cottage Street in Bar Harbor, which serves The Great Maine Breakfast.

It’s hard to resist the namesake breakfast on your first visit.  The delicious homemade baked beans come with three eggs, grilled ham, home fries, toast, and a buttermilk pancake.

Great Maine Breakfast

Of course, if your preference goes more toward black beans, you might opt for the three-egg Spanish omelet with provolone cheese. Topped with a very fresh and spicy salsa, it’s also served with home fries and homemade toast.

Jeannie's spicy Spanish omelet

No Bar Harbor breakfast spot is popular – and, believe me, Jeannie’s is – if it doesn’t offer some version of eggs with lobster.  Jeannie’s lobster specialty is an omelet filled with that iconic crustacean and topped with a creamy Mornay cheese sauce.

If you have a sweet tooth, you won’t be disappointed.  You can choose from blueberry pancakes or French toast stuffed with cream cheese and jam.  Jeannie’s is also known for its strawberry rhubarb fruit spread, which is packaged with pancake mixes, as a great gift to take to those who had to stay home.

Vegans can relax with vegan oatmeal and walnut pancakes topped with a warm, savory homemade applesauce.  If you’re a vegetarian who loves tofu, as my daughter does, go for the scrambled eggs with spiced tofu, peppers, and onions.  It’s also topped with that deliciously fresh homemade salsa.

Jeannie's Cottage Street Bar Harbor

There’s nothing fancy about Jeannie’s, which doesn’t take reservations.  But friendly and fast service will get you out early, as well fueled as any Maine woodsman, to tackle your hiking trail or carriage road in Acadia National Park.

RELATED STORIES:

Best Bar Harbor Breakfasts: 2 Cats

Tips for Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Bar Harbor

Best Restaurants in Bar Harbor – From a New Yorker’s Point-of-View

May 31, 2011

Fathom Opens in Bar Harbor, Pleasing Both Locals and Memorial Day Visitors to Acadia National Park

You walk in and restaurants immediately flash clues about the experience to come.

On its opening weekend, as we entered Fathom, Bar Harbor’s newest entrant on the fine dining scene, the crisp linens against the warm glow of the walls suggested both meticulous attention to detail and comfort.  The table appointments of a single flower, sea salt with a silver spoon, and a Japanese fighting fish circling in his bowl said expect classic with creativity. 

At 8pm every table in sight was occupied and a happy buzz emanated from the various sections of what was previously Maggie’s on Summer Street.  The bar was well stocked, so that I could start with a Lillet, an aperitif that has been made since the late 1800s.  But two unusual appetizers caught our attention: a sea scallop with fresh horseradish wrapped in prosciutto served over blueberry and fennel salad and Fathom’s version of the Hong Kong classic drunken shrimp, these drowned in a tequila cream.  I hope that as time goes on chef Joshua Heikkinen won’t hold back so much on the spiciness and flavor his menu promised for these appetizers, which were both nonetheless truly succulent.  (I, admittedly, like heat more than most people do.)

Dramatically presented filet mignon with wild mushroom béarnaise and duck breast with rhubarb were as pleasing to the palate as the eye. In fact, they were conversation stoppers.  

Owners Tracy Pattershall Hallett and Joshua Heikkinen say their goal is to incorporate Maine products into all world cuisine styles and to have “local and fresh” dictate the menu.  An illustration of Josh Heikkinen’s approach is the Maine tapenade-crusted pork chop.  Using local Brown Family Farm pork, he doesn’t go with the classic Mediterranean tapenade flavors of olives, anchovies, and capers, but instead invents a local rendition with dilly beans, dandelion greens, and salt cod and tops it with a dill chevre.  This is exciting stuff from a chef with a great local pedigree that includes both Red Sky and Fiddlers’ Green. 

And congratulations to Tracy and Josh for assembling a staff that epitomizes both professionalism and friendliness. 

It’s hard to “fathom” that this place will be anything other than a big success. 

To learn more about where to eat and what to do on a visit toAcadiaNational Park, visit OUR ACADIA.

 

August 22, 2009

Bound for Bar Harbor? Two New Favorite Restaurants When You Go to Acadia National Park

I go to Maine looking forward to hiking, biking, and kayaking in Acadia. 

I leave remembering the restaurants. 

We just returned from two great weeks on Mount Desert Island.  We didn’t get rained out a single day and the island was busy, but not crowded.  Since this is our fourth summer there, we have our favorite restaurants that we check in on – Town Hill Bistro, Red Sky, and, of course, Thurston’s Lobster Pound.  

But we also tried two spots new to us. 

When we arrived at XYZ in Manset, the place was packed.  The conversation of happy diners, red wainscoting, and colorful floral placemats ignited a buzz that was contagious.  Then I noticed another possible source of the excitement.  Just about every table was covered with the same elegant stemware – margaritas.  

In addition to a standard margarita, XYZ serves a special one that is made with higher quality tequila and Grand Marnier rather than Triple Sec.  (We tried both to validate the $2 price increment and can vouch for why everyone at the bar was ordering the “especial.”) 

We ended up sitting at the bar because the diners who had our table lingered so long over dessert.  Owner Janet Strong graciously helped push me and the comfy, upholstered bar seat into position. Then the fun really began.  Seated on each side of us were XYZ veterans – a well-traveled couple who had been coming to XYZ for fifteen years and the restaurant’s former bartender whose wife and children were out of town.   

We spied on what they were eating, consulted with the bartender, and conferred with each other to maximize the tasting opportunities.  We decided to start with an exquisite garlic soup and a pepper stuffed with cheese, both good enough to impress Rick Bayless.  We chose a shrimp entrée that featured another stuffed pepper and little tortillas – and got tips from the ex-bartender on how to compose something truly delicious.  Our other entrée was braised goat, deeply flavorful.  It wasn’t on the menu, a special dish chef Bob Hoyt had prepared for a large group.  When I asked about it, the owner brought my a little dish to try, which sealed the deal. 

Two warnings about XYZ: you need a reservation and you won’t find your Tex-Mex favorites here.  The name of the restaurant is the key.  XYZ stands for Xalapa, Yucatan, and Zacatecas – localities of Mexico’s interior and coast. 

The cuisine here is authentic and memorable, just like the name. 

We also ended up sitting at the bar at Mache Bistro in Bar Harbor.  I love sitting at the bar, but the clear message for you is that the restaurant scene on MDI is lively, and you need reservations at the best places to eat. 

Mache Bistro has a new chef, Kyle Yarborough, who taps his experience from Jordan Pond House, Seasons, and Havana, to deliver “a fresh approach to French bistro cuisine.”  You get wonderful local produce and seafood, prepared with flair, as evidenced by our choices.  We started with Maine crab and lobster cakes – made even more interesting with an olive and sun-dried tomato drizzle – and mussels prepared in a delectable chorizo, saffron, tomato, and wine sauce.  Yes, dip that bread.  

Entrée selections further illustrate Chef Kyle’s gastronomic schizophrenia.  A duck breast was served over a cassoulet of white beans and topped with smoked duck and a duck confit.  I think my scallops were among the best I have ever had, not only because they were so fresh, but I am guessing they were marinated in rosemary and pepper to produce such wonderful flavor.  They were served over rosemary polenta and topped with arugula and caramelized onions.  

For dessert we ordered the pain perdu, which was more of a bread pudding than French toast.  Guess what the topping was?  Blueberries, of course. 

In contrast to XYZ’s high-energy atmosphere, Mache Bistro is hushed.  I counted only eight tables and three couples at the bar.  Ceiling fans whir as couples whisper in the high-ceilinged room with pale green walls and burgundy accents.  With only a single accent of a pitcher of garden flowers on the bar, it’s almost ascetic. 

I wish I could drop by Mache Bistro’s bar often before a movie or a lecture for a glass of wine and grilled flat bread with crab, Manchego cheese and arugula.  The wine list, including a good selection of wines by the glass, is well chosen and fairly priced.  There were also a range of ports and dessert wines, and coffee was only $2. 

For more ideas on where to eat when you visit Bar Harbor, check out OUR ACADIA to read about our favorite lobster pounds, casual spots, and restaurants for a special night out.  There are also itineraries and tips for guides, kayaking tours, activities for kids, and places to stay.

April 7, 2009

Put away your Blackberries and turn off the video games. It’s time for family nature camp in Maine.

Why do kids have all the fun?  Surely, in this economy parents need a real break, too.  Now College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, has the perfect solution – a sensibly priced vacation of nature programs, boat trips, hiking, and biking.  It all takes place on Mount Desert Island, one of the world’s most beautiful islands.

 

whale-watch4The first big difference about this camp is that all activities are intended for the whole family.   The program is best-suited for children who are at least 5, but there doesn’t seem to be an upper-age limit.  Even the most skeptical adolescents, who dread the experience will be “lame,” seem to leave bestowing accolades. 

 

In fact, so many people end up loving Family Nature Camp that COA has designed special field trips designated for returning families.

 

Experienced staff helps plan activities for each family.  Most days are spent participating in two or three programs, including field trips with naturalists and local experts.  Activities are conducted at the college, which occupies 35 oceanfront acres, and in adjacent Acadia National Park.  What kind of activities?  Well…

 

  • Go on a whale watch 25 miles off the coast; if you’re lucky, you’ll see not only whales, but also harbor seals, gray seals, pods of harbor porpoises and North Atlantic puffins. 
  • Learn about the business and politics of the Maine fishermen.  Check out farming pens where Atlantic salmon are raised and watch your captain haul lobster traps. 
  • Go on a boat trip where the divers bring back a bag of underwater creatures such as lobsters, sea stars, scallops, sea cucumbers and other surprises – which you get to hold. 
  • Visit “active” beaver sites and get a close look at beaver lodges. 
  • Discover incredible facts about bats (some eat fish; other make tents!) and hear their ultrasound echolocation with the aid of a bat detector. 

star-fish1In addition, there’s free time for self-guided hikes, walks, and other activities.  (Sea kayaking is available for an additional fee.) Transportation is provided for most field trips, but families can be pretty independent as well.  For example, you can walk or take the free bus to the village of Bar Harbor to enjoy the shops, restaurants, art shows, and evening concerts.

 

Everyone stays in the College of Atlantic student housing on a campus that’s one of the “greenest” in America and eats in the college cafeteria.  Although the rooms and shared bathrooms are Spartan, meals include bountiful New England fare such as homemade fish chowder, chicken pot pie, and blueberry cobbler.  (If your kids have had past vacations staying in plush hotels with room service, there might be a lesson in these accommodations, too.)

 

 

Family Nature Camp rates are: Full Week – $900 for participants 16-years-old and older; $450 for children 15-years-old and under; Half Week – $500 for participants 16-years-old and older; $250 for children 15-years-old and under. These fees include housing, all meals, activities, field trips, and three boat trips! 

 

Now that’s an “eco-tourist’s all-inclusive.”

Summer 2009 Sessions: July 5-11, July 19-25, July 26-August 1, August 2-8.  For more information, visit College of the Atlantic Family Nature Camp.

For more information about Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park, visit OUR ACADIA.

 

 

 

July 28, 2008

Best Restaurants in Bar Harbor, Maine — from a New Yorker’s Point-of-View

First of all, my favorite Bar Harbor restaurants aren’t in Bar Harbor. 

For those unfamiliar with the area, Bar Harbor is the best-known among Mount Desert Island’s towns, but there are several other villages on this island of 100 square miles (roughly the same size as Martha’s Vineyard).  Exploring beyond Bar Harbor will not only yield delectable dining, but also introduce you to the charms of what the locals call “the quiet side” of the island.

Restaurants on Mount Desert Island absolutely live up to the standard of the best restaurants in the world.  And, as a New Yorker, I can say that in my opinion they are often better because everything is fresher in the relevant seasons.  For example, last spring at the recitation of specials at my favorite restaurant in Southwest Harbor, the owner announced they were offering asparagus that had been “in the ground that afternoon.”

Unfortunately, I no longer eat lobster in Manhattan, only in Maine.  There’s a sweet and salty flavor that comes from the freshness and the saltwater boiling method that makes lobster anywhere else disappointing.

All this doesn’t mean that all of the restaurants on Mount Desert Island are good, however.  Frankly, you have to plan ahead a bit because reservations may be hard to get and walking into a random spot may give you the unwanted experience of a “tourist trap.”  OUR ACADIA reviews the top spots from Trenton to Bar Harbor that range from wine bars to sandwich shops, beloved by locals and visitors alike.  But here are three that we go to every time we visit Acadia National Park.

Sips
Thurston’s Lobster PoundThurston’s Lobster Pound
Steamboat Wharf Road, Bernard, 207-244-7600

You can get waitress service if you sit downstairs at this postcard-perfect lobster pound overlooking the working fishing docks of Bass Harbor. However, for us it’s a rite of summer to stand in line upstairs with a beer (we really like the local micro-brew Harbor Lighthouse Ale) and begin the debate: Should we have hard shell or soft shell? How many pounds? Steamers or chowder? Standing in line heightens the anticipation of the sweetest lobsters we know anywhere. You can opt to have your lobster alone or with a “basic dinner” of corn, coleslaw, roll, and Thurston’s blueberry spice cake (so good you’ll want to buy extra for tomorrow’s breakfast). Or you can enhance the experience with steamers, the chowder of the day, lobster stew, or crab cakes with chipotle sauce. There are lots of things for seafood-averse kids, too, including grilled cheese, burgers, and a grilled chicken sandwich with Boursin.

Red Sky Restaurant Sky
14 Clark Point Road, Southwest Harbor, 207-244-0476

A favorite of both locals and visitors to Mount Desert Island, it draws guests not only from Southwest Harbor and other communities on the “quiet side,” but also regulars from Seal Harbor and Northeast Harbor. Balancing warmth with culinary expertise, the owners James and Elizabeth Lindquist set a white table cloth for an excellent menu that features local products and seasonal produce. The pan-roasted breast of duck and grilled marinated lamb are among my favorites, as is Elizabeth’s martini. When we visited in June, we also indulged in the light lemon soufflé cake, another reason that Red Sky at night is a sailor’s delight, and everyone else’s, too.

 

Town Hill BistroTown Hill Bistro
Route 102 and Crooked Road/West Eden Commons, 207-288-1011

The first time we all went to Town Hill Bistro, only four months after their opening in 2007, there was a chalk board outside the front door announcing the restaurant was totally booked. Since Town Hill is off the beaten path, this is no small feat, but it’s no wonder once you experience the creative cuisine and very friendly, but competent service here. The restaurant serves about 30 guests in a cabin-like dining room that has a pitched, beamed ceiling and bar at one end and fireplace at the other. Guests include large and small parties, out-of-towners who rave (see TripAdvisor!), and locals who are regulars. Town Hill Bistro offers starters, small plates, and large plates that generally represent fish, steak, chicken, pasta, and vegetarian selections. We highly recommend the Asian Barbecue Salmon Filet over Udon Noodles!

RELATED STORIESTton Bridge Lobster Pound

Fathom Opens in Bar Harbor, Pleasing Both Locals and Memorial Day Visitors to Acadia National Park