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What to eat, how much to pay
As with most things in life, the naive can be taken by the knowing. And so it is worth food. Sometimes it is overrated, others it is overpriced. Sometimes it is just right, and those are the gems among the mere stones.
"Lobster Pound" seem to be everywhere and even associated with conventional restaurants.
Don't be fooled, true Lobster Pounds are most often outdoor, picnic table eateries whose only concessions to civility are paper napkins and plates and plastic utensils. If it has stainless, cloth, a printed menu or a hostess, it is not a true Lobs.
In recent years, an increasing number of uptown restaurants have begun adding "Lobster Pound" to their signage. This is an obvious attempt to snag unsuspecting tourists or those who view themselves too refined to eat in a real lobster pound where plastic utensils are considered a major concession to civility.
So, beware of such signage ploys. No self-respecting lobster pound would use fancy paint, weird lettering, designer colors or any sort of design that even vaguely attempts to be artistic. A real lobster pound sign certainly does not look new---even if it is.
Further validation of real lobster pound signage is that it is located very near a soda advertisement or, better yet, it is actually part of a soda sign--usually Coca-Cola.
[In the South, grinning anthropomorphized pigs often indicate the probability of good barbecue. The same generally doesn't apply to the use of humanized lobsters among lobster pound owners in Maine; perhaps Southerners are more artistic; or Mainers are just in a bigger hurry. We don't know. In both cases, however, pick up trucks and very large early model American autos in the parking lot are good indicators.]
Before you get to Maine
Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier Finding Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier is the first challenge. But it is worth it.
From I-95, take Route 3 East, or Route 236 East until it merges into Rte. 3. Continue east past the intersection of Haley Road; it will come in at an angle from the left. Shortly, you will find the Lobster Pier on your right, hanging on a small cliff overlooking the creek that feeds into the bay that opens into the Atlantic.
The Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier logo is about as close as you are going to get to humanoid lobsters in Maine; the two out-stretched and open claws form each of the two Cs beginning Chauncey and Creek in the logo. Not bad, guys.
The menu on the wall and a paper flier includes the obligatory chowders, sides of slaw and fries, raw bar items and, of course, lobsters. You can also get Dairy Queen Dilly Bars!
At Chauncey Creek, you can bring your own wine and beer. Indeed, their flier says "please feel free to bring your own alcoholic beverage and any food or drink that is not sold here." And many regulars do so; it is a regular picnic: bring your own salad, side and wine; fill it out with lobster and you've got quite a good and economical meal.
Open in 1950, the establishment has grown and developed a loyal following. Today it has 42 brightly painted picnic tables under shelters, friendly staff, more than reasonable prices and its own hire-a-cop to direct traffic on busy weekends along the tight windy road the Pier calls home.
Chauncey Creek Road, Kittery Point, Maine, 207-439-1030 or 207-439-9024
Now, for our first [and currently only] example of a real lobster pound, that we'd recommend.
Now, for Maine alphabetically
Atlantica, 1 Bayview Landing, 207 236 6011
Well regarded; moderately expensive.
Francine Bistro, 55 Chestnut St, 207-230-0083
Lots of rave reviews. Expensive. We hate Web restaurant sites that push music on you as soon as the site opens!
Natalie's, 83 Bayview Street, 207-236-7008
Hartstone Inn, 41 Elm Street, 800-788-4823; 207-236-4259
Well liked, but this is a hotel restaurant. We hate Web restaurant sites that push music on you as soon as the site opens!
Peter Ott's, 16 Bayview St, 207-236-4032
"Great food, good prices, awesome atmosphere."
Sage Deli, 40 Washington Street,
Recently moved from Rockland, this is a specialty grocery, purveyor and high-end sandwich shop. An excellent find. Run by a pleasant young couple, has a nice thought small wine selection that’s fairly priced.
King Eiders Pub & Restaurant, Elm St., 207-563-6008
Larson's Lunch Box. 430 Main St, 207-563-3302, 207-563-5755
In the center or Damariscotta, Larson's has an "outstanding" lobster roll, by some reports, as well as good hamburgers.
Salt Bay Diner. 88 Main Street
Though it won’t get many stars, it is fairly reliable. The steamed mussels have been good to great, depending on the cook, it seem.
Azure Cafe, 123 Main St, Freeport 207-865-1237
Pricey and okay food, some say.
Corsican Restaurant, 9 Mechanic St., 207-865-9421
Better food than ambiance.
Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster, 36 Main Street, 207-865-4888
Mediterranean Grill, 10 School St, 207-865-1688
Highly regarded, but often crowded -- like almost everywhere in Freeport during tourist season.
Barnacle Billy's, 207-646-4711
Perkins Cove describes itself as a "Luxury lobster pound...with lobster served in an unsurpassed atmosphere. Dining on deck over water or in dining room. Two fireplaces.
98 Provence, 262 Shore Road,
Fairly pricey [for Maine] French country cuisine.
Arrows Restaurant Berwick Road,
Grows their own veggies and recognized as a quality establishment.
Back Bay Grill, 65 Portland St., 207-772-8833
Highly rated, but one comment: "really good but we left hungry and poor."
Bintliff's American Cafe, 98 Portland St,
Funky, eclectic atmosphere and great service.
Duckfat, 43 Middle St, 207-774 8080
Fabulous or simply over priced; mixed bag of opinions.
Five Fifty Five, 5 Congress St, 207-761-0555
"Five Fifty Five and Back Bay Grill, best two restaurants in Portland," "food here is amazing," and mixed reviews on service.
Flatbread Company, 72 Commercial St, 207-772-8777
As expected: "Pizza, house goat cheese salad and a cold beer."
Fore Street, 288 Fore St, 207-775-2717
Pricey; Menu changes daily depending on what's available.
J's Oyster, 5 Portland Pie, 207-772-4828
Great food yet affordable.
Street and Co, 33 Wharf St, 207-775-0887
Good food, reasonable prices excellent mussels.
Yosaku Japanese Restaurant, 1 Danforth St, 207-780-0880
"The best Sushi."
Atlantic Baking Company, 351 Main St.
Good and doubles as an equally good sandwich shop. "Specializes in artisan breads, made-from-scratch pastries, sandwiches, salads, soups and cookies everyday."
Amalfi 421 Main St.,
good evening restaurant.
Black Bull Tavern, 420 Main St.,
Basically a hamburger cafe.
Cafe Miranda, 15 Oak St., 207-594-2034
Hidden on a side street, an interesting menu well prepared despite its claim to cover the waterfront of cuisine, "American, Asian, BBQ, Family, Gourmet, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Pizza, Seafood, Steakhouse, Thai."
Primo, 2 South Main St.
Good, thinks a lot of itself and is priced for the people "from away" accustomed to comparatively high dinner tabs. Drink prices are no bargain, either.
Rustica Cucina Italiana,
315 Main St.,
Sunfire Mexican Grill, 488 Main St.,
"California Style Mexican" explains everything. Personally, we like Mexican style Mexican.
Union Station Grille, 4 Union St.,
Converted train station.
Wasses, 2 North Main St.
A legendary doggery, and worth a stop. "Hot dog stand near downtown," says it all.
Waterworks Restaurant, 7 Lindsey St.,
Moderately priced pub fare.
Cody's Original Roadhouse, 399 Commercial St.,
Youth focus and decibel level.
Ingraham’s, 417 Commercial St.
A family-run near-fine-dining restaurant. Moderately price; worth your the price, and it won't tap out your IRA. Family's involved in another restaurant now, and Ingraham's isn't always open.
Marcel's Restaurant, relaxed tablecloth dining while overlooking Penobscot Bay, Pricey. Wine Spectator Award of Excellence recipient. "Country club casual dress."
220 Warrenton St.
Harbor View Restaurant, 24 Public Landing, 207-354-8173
Overlooking the St. George River.
Thomaston Café, 154 Main St., 207-354-8589
Worth a breakfast or lunch stop. On Route 1 at the corner with “the” traffic signal.
Has a good, friendly and clean McDonalds. Staffed by adults, who act like they care. Plus the usual FF suspects.
Moody’s Diner, Route 1, 800-640-5070
is a traditional greasy-spoon, that is always full of locals. Moody's was established in 1934 and has been operating continuously ever since.
The breakfast special is nothing special but it is good, fast and cheap; it is one of our favorites at this roadside attraction.. Pie is their claim to fame, and we find it above average.
Moody's is one of two of Yankee Magazine's 2008 Classic New England diners listed in Maine. Twenty diners are listed overall, so that's a pretty good showing. Route 1, 207-832-7785
Le Garage Restaurant,
Blue Sky, 2 Beach Street, 207-363-0050, www.blueskyonyorkbeach.com
is run by noted New England chef Lydia Shire, and sets a new standard for this community. Decidedly the menu is pricey for the area; entrees begin at $14. Features naturally lead off with a variety of lobster dishes and continue through salmon, chicken.