Posts tagged ‘Thurston’s Lobster Pound’

June 27, 2011

5 Best Places to Eat with Kids in Bar Harbor During a Family Vacation to Acadia National Park

The most popular section of my Web site OUR ACADIA – which is devoted to exploring, eating, and relaxing in Maine – is restaurants.  Maybe it’s because lobster, blueberry pie, and chowder are so high up on everyone’s agenda of what to do in Maine!  If you are planning a family vacation to Mount Desert Island, here are the best spots to eat with kids.

Jordan Pond House

Enjoying tea and popovers on the lawn at Jordan Pond House has been a Mount Desert Island tradition since 1870.  Located on a hill overlooking Jordan Pond and the Bubble mountains, the restaurant serves lunch, tea, and dinner. At the cross roads of hiking, biking, and sightseeing trails, the lawn is a hub of activity, so let the kids run around while your waitress puts in your order for lobster stew, Maine crab cakes, popovers, lemonade, and homemade strawberry icecream.

Thurston’s Lobster Pound

Thurston’s Lobster Pound is the real thing, serving steamed lobster, chowder, and ales from local micro-breweries in a casual setting overlooking the working lobster boats of Bass Harbor.  The folks who own Thurston’s are smart.  They keep parents happy with steamers and lobster, kids thrilled with burgers, hot dogs, and peanut butter and jelly.  A sophisticated teen who scorns seafood?  How about a grilled chicken sandwich with Boursin cheese?  And everyone will love their special blueberry spice cake.

Pat’s Pizza

After days of seafood, some families want something different.  Pat’s is particularly kid-friendly because of its varied menu.  I love their deliciously crisp pizza, but it also comes in “double dough” and gluten-free styles.  Your teenager may want a chicken caesar salad, while the little kids go for a traditional Italian dinner of baked ziti or lasagna.  Nachos and burgers are options, too.  There are so many tempting options for pizza that you may end up coming back a second time to take out.

Café This Way

If it’s going to rain, schedule a day exploring Bar Harbor that starts with a special breakfast at Café This Way.  Parents can choose among six different ways to have their Eggs Benedict or create their own omelets.  Kids love the blueberry pancakes, French toast, waffles, and Big Breakfast Sandwiches.  My husband couldn’t decide between eggs or French toast so he chose the Monte Cristo, a French toast sandwich filled with a fried egg, ham, and cheddar cheese, served with home fries and maple syrup.

Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium

Summertime and candy shops just go together.  Taffy?  Lobster icecream?  From the traditional to the, well, innovative, Ben & Bill’s has it all.  You can get buttercrunch, chocolates, gummy candies, jelly beans, and homemade fudge made from a 100-year-old recipe.  If you prefer icecream, they stock 64 hard-serve flavors in summer, along with 12 flavors of gelato — all made at the shop on Main Street in Bar Harbor.  No  one leaves unhappy, including the family hound, who can get a Yellow Dog Special, a baby scoop of vanilla icecream with two dog bones.

For other ideas on what to do with kids – ranging from boat cruises to family-friendly hikes – visit OUR ACADIA’S “Kids’ Favorites.”  That’s the second most popular part of the site!

November 28, 2010

Bass Harbor, Maine, Ready for Winter

I love trees with bare branches.  Beaches in winter.  Fishing villages off season. 

Bass Harbor is one such village.  Located on the southwestern portion of Mount Desert Island, it’s one of the most lucrative lobster-producing ports in Maine.  I was there in late October and the streets were empty.  

 

That’s not the case in the summertime when cars loaded with kayaks and trucks ready to load lobsters line up for the ferry to Swan’s Island.  Boat builders head to work at Morris Yachts.  Vacationers swing into the driveways of harborside condos, including the local success story for Maine Preservation, Underwood Wharf (below left), once the largest sardine cannery in Maine.  

But in October it’s even still across the harbor in Bernard, home of my favorite lobster pound, Thurston’s

 

Although seafood purveyor C. H. Rich is open year-round, the wharf is quiet. 

 

The buoys are off duty. 

Skiffs and traps are taking a break.

 

May 3, 2009

Soft vs. Hard Shell Lobster? The Final Word.

View from my favorite lobster pound

View from my favorite lobster pound

Every time I go to Acadia National Park to hike, bike, and kayak, my vacation itinerary includes a trip to a lobster pound.  OK, often two.  So here, after much research, is the point-of-view of this New Yorker on the soft vs. hard shell lobster debate.

Here are the two sides.  Fans of soft shell lobsters claim they are sweeter and easier to eat because they can be cracked by hand.  Lovers of hard shells point to more meat and a firmer consistency.

Let’s draw on a little science about Homarus americanus.  Lobsters shed their shells (or molt) throughout their lives.  After they grow a new shell inside the old one, they drink a lot of water which expands their body size and infuses the new shell, causing it to expand and break the old one.  The new shell is softer.  While it hardens, there’s a layer of seawater that helps insulate the lobster’s body.

And, to me, that’s the insight.  The seawater acts as kind of a secret marinating agent to make the meat of the soft shell lobster undeniably sweeter.  It’s more tender and delectable.

So, if taste is your priority, order a soft shell.  But keep in mind two other considerations.  First, eating a soft shell lobster is a messier process.  When you crack it open, be prepared for the torrent of “marinating liquid” to spew forth! The other negative is a soft shell will have relatively less meat for the same poundage. Lower prices will compensate for this, but you must remember to order a larger size.  Thurston’s Lobster Pound on Mount Desert Island recommends at least a quarter of a pound more.

You are not likely to get a soft shell lobster in a New York restaurant or delivered by mail because hard shells are more durable for shipping.  So, if you are on Mount Desert Island at the end of the summer, which is the molting season for that part of New England, the choice should be clear. A soft shell lobster is a special seasonal treat if you’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

lobsterMount Desert Island in Maine is home not only to Acadia National Park, but to harborside  villages, charming inns, wonderful antiquing, and topnotch spas.  Activities, especially hiking, biking, kayaking, and sailing, abound.  And, since Maine is the state of both farmers and fishermen, the restaurants are great. To read about my favorites, including several lobster pounds, visit OUR ACADIA.

 

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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!

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