I recently had the pleasure of accompanying my family on a vacation to Maine…or as I like to say, we took a Mainecation. In recent years, we have been escaping the heat for a week or so in cooler states like Michigan, Washington, and now Maine.
One of my favorite parts of traveling with my family is trying the local fare. I come from a foodie household, so mom plans the trip based on where we can eat 🙂
We flew into Portland and immediately jumped in a rental car and started making our way up to Camden. We stayed one night, and headed up to Bar Harbor the next day. It’s a bit of a haul from Portland to Bar Harbor, so it was nice to have a “layover” in Camden. After several days in Bar Harbor, we trekked back down to Portland where we stayed one night. Throughout this trip, we ate very well, so I wanted to give you a glimpse at the food scenes in these three cities! In this blog, we’ll talk about the tasty adventures from Camden to Bar Harbor.
This was our first destination, but after our flight, we needed some fuel before the drive. We were driving along route 1 (the more scenic route), and we saw a sign: Leavitt & Sons Deli. That’ll hit the spot. We each ordered a sandwich. The bread was fresh, the roast beef was delicious, slathered in horseradish sauce…just what I needed! No lobster roll yet, but I figured there would be plenty of time.
We continued en route to Camden (a quintessential New England town). Once we arrived to our hotel, we got settled, walked around town, and soon headed to our dinner spot: Long Grain. This Thai restaurant seems a little bizarre when you walk in. It’s a very small space, with homey/country furnishings, farm tables with mason jar water glasses…not quite fitting the image of a typical Thai restaurant! We started off with a few beers and we ordered chicken wings for the table as an appetizer. I’m a sucker for cute serving dishes, and I loved the fry basket they served the wings in! Topped with micro cilantro and served with a tasty dipping sauce.
To order our main entrees, mom and I asked the server what she recommends. She wouldn’t tell us specific dishes – she just wanted to know “savory or sweet” and “rice or noodles.” We said savory with noodles. I have no idea what we ordered that night, but I was fairly pleased! Make sure to get reservations though, they were turning people away by 6 pm on a Wednesday!
You may be saying to yourself – wait a minute. You went to Maine and you haven’t ordered lobster yet???? Mom figured we’d be sick of lobster by the end of the trip if we didn’t pace ourselves! Always a thinker, she is.
The next day, we hiked up to Mount Battie (a nice spot overlooking Camden) and then hopped on over to Cellardoor Winery (because, wine). It’s in a beautifully restored barn, with a great gift shop as well! So many Mud Pie items (one of my favorites, because who doesn’t love food puns?). They offer free wine tastings (yesss), and then we each got a glass to enjoy out on the porch. The best part? They have a case of crackers and tasty cheeses that you can purchase and take out onto the porch as well. Don’t worry, they have knives and cutting boards for you to borrow too! It was the perfect picnic after our hike!
Next stop: Bar Harbor!
P.S. If you take route 1 up to Bar Harbor, there’s a lovely little store called Rooster Brother (the store for cooks). Stop in to stretch your legs, peruse the kitchenware, and get a coffee!
Finally to Bar Harbor! We stayed at the Bar Harbor Inn which provided beautiful water views!
After getting settled, we walked around town (so many shops!), and then headed to dinner. We had reservations at a restaurant called Havana. I wasn’t sure what to think, based on the name. Cuban comfort food, maybe some ropa vieja? Not quite. They consider themselves to be “American fine dining” with a latin flair. No ropa vieja to be found. Instead, I ordered a pisco sour and half a dozen raw oysters to start. The oysters were served with a chili oil and mignonette. (Side note: I had never touched raw oysters until a year or 2 ago. I used to watch my grandfather eat them and think they were disgusting. Then I finally tried one and found that I actually like them! And now I get them all the time!) I didn’t take a picture of mom’s “Proveleta” but I had a taste, and man, it was amazing! It’s a grilled provolone cheese served with grilled bread, chimichurri, pickles, and andouille sausage.
For my main course, I went with scallops served over panzanella. Now this dish was a winner. Big, buttery scallops, pan seared and served over a fresh panzanella. The bread for the panzanella was probably my favorite part…cornbread croutons!
Day two started with a bike ride through Acadia National Park, and let me tell you, those hills were brutal! We worked up a big appetite, so lucky for us there was a burger place and brewery right next to the bike shop (Atlantic Brewing & Midtown Burger)! We ordered our burgers and brews and sat out on the sunny roof top deck to enjoy our meal. Now this was a tasty burger, but how can it not be with 70/30 beef! Yummmmm.
Later that day, mom had planned a bit of an adventure. We drove over to Northeast Harbor to catch a water taxi (I use that term loosely as it was a fishing boat with a few folding chairs set up in the back) to Islesford, ME. Iselsford is a tiny tiny town on Little Cranberry Island. The restaurant there, The Islesford Dock, is literally built on a dock. And that just may be the only thing in the town, besides homes. The restaurant is big and open, and has a friendly, family feel.
I started with Asian ribs in a hoisin Mongolian sauce. Sweet, messy, and delicious!
Mom ordered the cheesy biscuits with honey butter. What could be better than a warm, fresh biscuit served with a crock of butter drowning in honey?
Now believe it or not, I’m finally getting my lobster! I ordered my lobster “lazy” which means they do all the work for me! This was necessary because while I can pick crabs all day, the lobster is uncharted territory!
Ok, here’s the best part of the story…while we were at the restaurant, we were chatting with the owner (who also happens to own Havana!). He casually mentioned that Martha Stewart was over in the corner, having dinner. MARTHA STEWART. I looked over, and there she was. Me being the shy, thoughtful person that I am, didn’t want to interrupt her dinner, so I didn’t go over and fawn over her, despite my strong desire to get an autograph. But at least I can say I dined alongside Martha Stewart! #youfancyhuh
The next day was rainy, so we weren’t able to enjoy the outdoors as much as we would have liked. However, we did have reservations at Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park. Jordan Pond is famous for their popovers. I had a pot of tea and 2 popovers, served with butter and strawberry jam. If you’ve never had a popover, they are big, airy pastries. They are hollow in the center, and are delicious when ripped apart and topped with butter and jam.
Later that day, after failed attempts at hiking in the park (if you want to hike in Acadia, the best option is to take the bus either from town or from the visitor’s center — finding parking at the trail heads is terrible!), we returned to the Bar Harbor Inn – The Reading Room for dinner. Another delicious meal, with the highlight being, you guessed it, lobster! Another great way to enjoy the crustacean is just the tail served with filet mignon.
Our last full day in Bar Harbor was spent hiking, eating another burger from Midtown Burger (because they were that good!), checking out a nearby town (Southwest Harbor – not much to see, but a couple cute shops), and finally, a scoop of ice cream from Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream. Fun fact – the locals pronounce it “Mount Dessert Island.” I guess I’m ok with that, because I’d much rather be stranded on a dessert island than on a desert island…just saying. There are a lot of ice cream shops in Bar Harbor, but we went with this one because of their good reviews and original flavors. I tried a taste of a spicy thai coconut ice cream. It had a kick! I’m all for spicy but I ended up going for a scoop of salted caramel and a scoop of mission fig. Yum!
Our time in Bar Harbor came to an end. We piled in the car and started the journey back to Portland! We grabbed some wild Maine blueberries for the ride, and had a pit stop in Freeport, ME to check out the L.L. Bean flagship store.
Camden and Bar Harbor certainly had some good eats, but stay tuned for part 2 of this blog where I take you through some of the best bites that Portland has to offer!