Dining in Maine - Ogunquit to Kennebunkport

We are staying in Ogunquit. It’s the tail end of our nine nights in Maine. I will give you the details and pick your brain at our HOdown at Aberdeen on June 10th! :slight_smile:

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Headed there for a belated b’day dinner for my SO on Friday. Any additional tips??

Yes!!! Go to On the Marsh in Kennebunk. Place is gorgeous, food is fantastic. I will.be writing it up when I get home, but put it this way, went last night and before we left we made another reservation for Friday. Maybe I’ll see you there!!! Let me know!

http://www.onthemarsh.com/

Oh, and our server used to work at White Barn and she even said the food there had gone way downhill.

We spent a few days in Portsmouth in 2012, as part of a 3 week trip to America. A couple of really good dinners there - Mombo & Jumpin Jays - and one OK dinner - Massimo. Dunno if these places are still open or if the recc remains valid five years on.

That was not our experience at White Barn. It was delicious, and that was last week. By the way, you might also check out the wonderful bar appetizers served at David’s KPT, Kennebunkport, during happy hours…

Had lunch at David’s last trip. Food was good. Atmohepnere was to city for my taste, but that’s just me.

Book On the Marsh in Kennebunk for dinner. Full report when I am not on an iPad. Beautiful and fantastic food.

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I just have to say that we just came back from a wonderful breakfast at The Greenery in Ogunquit. They are open from 5AM until 2 and serve breakfast and lunch all day. We woke up very early and since they were opened we headed over there around 6:30. Let me start by saying we have had two breakfasts here so far and not one cup of good coffee. We sat down at the Greenery and the coffee mug was hot. The waiteress had made sure of that by pouring hot water in them to heat them. The coffee was local - Carpe Diem, and delicious!!! We both had pancakes and they were perfect - not crazy sweet served with real maple syrup and whipped, room temperature butter. They make all of their own pastries and they also make cinnamon bread. Tomorrow, cinnamon toast!!!

Awesome, can’t wait to see the full report! Your breakfast in Ogunquit sounds great too!

Hi All - Just back from our weekend in Kennebunkport celebrating my SO’s b-day. As we were staying at White Barn Inn, we opted for the WBI restaurant for dinner Friday evening. The room is beautiful - and dinning early (my SO and our spring onion both prefer early) we got the prime table in front of the window overlooking an exuberant container garden. The wood floors have a thick coat of clear poly or varnish, giving them a bit of a maritime feel. The high ceiling in the center of the barn (flanked by lofts to the sides) provide ample space so that the live piano was welcome background, not at all intrusive. A dress code was mainly adhered to by guests - though among the jacketed multitude I was alone wearing a tie.

With our spring onion in tow we opted for the 4 course menu instead of the tasting menu. My SO had them adapt a lemongrass/cucumber/ginger tonic mocktail into a gin and tonic - an interesting idea that didn’t turn out as well as she hoped. I had the house Cosmo, made with white cranberry juice - well crafted and refreshing. A delightful amuse of “pigs in a blanket” - with venison sausage - “amused” more than the mouth. Starters - lobster spring rolls for SO and little so, a duet of dayboat scallops for me. The lobster in the spring rolls was a hit, but the vegetables served beneath a bit bland, sautéed not raw - the scallop as fresh as it gets. The seared scallop presentation with a thin herb and lemon crust outshone the ceviche, which lacked pizzaz. Intermezzos - a tomato/tarragon sorbet for me was bright and refreshing. Truffled foie gras torchon with Banyuls jelly was well-received by SO - and the complementary glass of Banyuls a nice touch. Little so enjoyed a flavorful mushroom soup.

Mains - for SO the Maine lobster over fettuccine. Absolutely beautiful presentation, the tail “reconstructed” to mimic the body, flanked by the head and tail flippers. Perfectly cooked, but the accompanying vegetables were bland (and similar to the vegetables that came with the spring roll). For little “so” they were kind enough to serve “Duck Pond" off the tasting menu - variations on duck with mushrooms and a quail egg. Another gorgeous presentation, in a glass bowl looking a bit like a terrarium. Unfortunately it didn’t appeal to little so, which the waiter quickly noticed and produced the lobster over fettuccine for her to save the day (at no extra cost).

I’m usually ordering fish, but the duet of beef tenderloin and seared Hudson Valley foie gras sounded too decadent to pass up. And it was fabulous - perfectly medium-rare tenderloin, seared lobe of foie gras, graced by a red-wine/balsamic reduction. The presentation was “outlined” top and bottom by pencil-thin asparagus and what I at first thought was white asparagus, that turned out to be horizontal lines of mashed potato, parallel to the asparagus. As visually appealing as it was delicious. An excellent selection of wines by the glass offered some interesting possibilities. The waiter recommended a 2014 Caymus cab that I would have avoided as too young, but he was spot on - suprisingly rounded for a 2014; I neglected to ask if it had been decanted, but I presume so.

Souffle for desert - apricot for me and little so, “strawberry cheesecake” for SO, all perfectly executed. We had an unresolved debate over which was best - both were excellent. An interesting selection of digestifs - I inquired about a Grüner Veltliner eiswein, and was steered away from it by the waiter. I went with an old favorite - Inniskillin, but the waiter brought both for a head-to-head. He was right, the Grüner was sweet but lacked complexity. A bit of elaborate table architecture presented a fleet of petit fours and homemade candies (a bit sweet for my SO, but they resonated with my sweet tooth).

The service was impeccable. Uniformed waiters, piping on the sleeves, and a small platoon of assistants for water, bread, and tableware gave an old-world affect. But only to a point, because the service was relaxed and all the team members engaged us in conversation whenever we initiated. I surmise they have to survive some sort of boot camp to earn those Relais et Chateaux lapel pins.

Summary - several memorable winners, beautiful presentations, gorgeous room and stellar service make this a celebratory destination (SO birthday in our case). A few low points (lifeless scallop ceviche, bland vegetables with the spring roll and fettucini), however. At this price point, there is stiff competition.

Unfortunately we missed out on Ocean and On the Marsh in Kennebunkport because of timing. Ocean is not open for lunch. However we did make it to Eventide Oyster in Portland. We arrived around 2:15 PM (Saturday) and were told the wait would be around 1:15. I like the web site they use that gives you real-time status updates. The wait ended up being less, and we were seated at the long communal table in the room to the left of the entrance a bit after 2. We sampled 3 different Maine oysters - impecabbly fresh, wonderful accompaniments (horseradish ice my favorite). Crudo - tuna, kampachi, off the specials board were excellent. A winner was a soft-shell crab special. Halibut crudo off the standing menu was also excellent, as was the Maine lobster stew - with coconut and green curry, a bit of a Thai kick. Little “so” enjoyed the fried oysters. We shared one brown butter lobster roll that get’s so much love, although we weren’t blown away. Interesting craft brews on tap of course, but service was a bit odd - dishes started coming out immediately, but not so drinks until after the fourth course we inquired again about our beverage order.

We were struck by the similarity of Eventide to Row 34, and we ended up stopping at Row 34 Portsmouth enroute home on Sunday, so we had a chance for nearly-contemporaneous juxtaposition. We called ahead for a 1:30 reservation, though the restaurant was only half-full when we arrived. The restaurant is in a new building a couple of blocks from Market Square, a long bar along one side, flanked by high tops with banquettes overlooking a lower section that fronts the windows. Two televisions behind the bar were showing the French Open, but not attracting much attention - not really a sports-bar vibe. A dramatic flower arrangement dominated by large purple alliums and a spectacular, even larger spiked blossom was eye catching, right next to us. Unlike Boston, Portsmouth has a craft cocktail program in addition to beer/wine. SO had a dill-infused vodka cocktail with red pepper. The first iteration was a bit sweet for her tastes, but the bartender graciously crafted a less-sweet implementation that was better but still didn’t fit SOs craving for a savory cocktail. I had a smoked cherry weissbier from Smutlabs (???). Tart, a bit reminiscent of Omegang Rosetta, but not sweet (and hence more versatile with food). They had a $1 special on MA oysters from the Cape (forgot the town), and we ended up downing 18. Crudos - tuna tacos - 3 small (2-bite) fried shells, with diced mango and peppers, a scallop ceviche that was refreshing but could have used something - perhaps a bit of heat (there were a few sliced jalepeno on top, but apparently none in the marinade). Tuna crudo was served as 3 large, beautiful and fairly thick rolled sheets, with sliced avacado. Crispy fried oysters with pickled onion in a lettuce leaf were a hit with all three of us. Little so enjoyed a 1/2-order of fried oysters and fries - plump, juicy oysters (clearly not the MA oysters, judging from their large size), and a generous portion.

We enjoyed Row 34 every bit as much as Eventide, and frankly I think if Eventide were in Boston it would probably not stand out as much in contrast to Row 34, Select Oyster, Little Donkey, and others serving impeccably fresh and adventurous crudo. We’ll find out soon when Eventide opens a location near Fenway.

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Glad you had a better experience at White Barn than I did!! We did On the Marsh twice - once while the Bush Seniors were there. We also did Ocean. Both were great and will write them up later. We also did Portland for lunch - Central Provisions which did not disappoint. We did a walk through in Portsmouth due to timing so really didn’t eat there. We wanted to see the town.

Thanks for the report, Max. Did not realize you were travelling with a young one. We had a fine experience in the bistro room at White Barn. Will check out Row 34 in Portsmouth.

Gwen - looking forward to your reports on Ocean and On the Marsh. Kennebunkport and Portland are close enough to be day-tripable - if you avoid high traffic, which we unfortunately - on a Friday afternoon - did not.

I should have explicitly noted, but the sharp-eyed will have caught, that getting into Row 34 Portsmouth was much easier than getting in to Row 34 Boston!

We did Portland for lunch - stayed in Ogunquit. The ride was fine. I just prefer not to do it for dinner and driving back after a glass or two of wine!

Here are the highlights of our trip to Maine last week.

Dinner
Clay Hill Farm, Ogunquit. – I know, I know, but I like it. Clay Hill is a true throwback to a bygone era, when dining out included a piano player and a prime rib. Set back from the road with nature all around, it is a bird sanctuary so there is always a show outside. Inside are velvet swivel chairs and that piano player. I was actually singing along. It helped that it was our first night of vacation!! The food was very good, very classic. DH started with the escargot en croute with garlic Pernod butter. The little puff pastry on the top of each snail was buttery heaven. He then went for the surf and turf and the lobster was sweet and succulent. I opted for the prime rib – one of those things that I just love. And I got the end cut because I love the seasonings and, I will add, the extra fat!! It was tender, juicy and RARE! There is just something about that place I like.

On the Marsh, Kennebunk
This place is beautiful – on a marsh!!! It’s in a rustic house angled from the street with a feeling of being further from the street than you are. The place is very cozy inside with a nice bar you can dine at and well-spaced tables. We had one in the corner. Everyone was very friendly – felt like home. We were served an amuse of warm brie on grilled bread with a gelee on top. Excellent rolls were served with soft butter topped with chives and little hot pepper shreds. DH started with the pan roasted rope cultured mussels with oven roasted tomatoes and garlic, white wine and a touch of cream. These mussels were so clean as they are rope cultured. He said they were the best mussels he has ever eaten and I would agree. That sauce was so good we were both eating it with a spoon when the mussels were gone. For mains, DH had the grilled tenderloin with Gouda mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus and bordelaise sauce which was excellent but the portion of mussels was so big that he could not finish his steak! I was in heaven as I had roast ½ duck ON THE BONE in a fig and red wine reduction served with butter poached shitakes and a parsnip puree. I will say the word succulent again. That duck was good!! Dinner here was so impressive that we cancelled reservations at another place and booked this again for two nights later. The second time, I stuck with my duck and DH had to have those mussels again, but his entrée was seared sea scallops with cauliflower and leak puree, sautéed pea pods and peppers in balsamic cream. Not a bad bite was consumed! On this visit, DH had the special margarita made with the bartender’s house made smoked pepper infused tequila. Best margarita I’ve tasted. And, we were joined at the restaurant on that night by George and Barbara Bush and assorted friends and secret service. Fun night!

Northern Union, Ogunquit
This place is really more of a wine bar with tapas. Many couches with coffee tables to rest drinks and food on, with some regular tables in the mix. The place is pretty and walkable from our hotel, which I loved. Of course, with small plates they love to leave you the menu so you can keep ordering food and wine! Our server was friendly and professional and was anxious to go home!!! It was a slow night, but she did not rush us at all. In fact, we got to talking with the people at the next table and stayed a bit longer – and got a great recommendation for breakfast (previously written up). DH had shrimp a la plancha with rosemary, pickled chilies, espellette – it was hot! I opted for the ramp soup with white asparagus veloute and pickled ramps. It was good, but I was very disappointed as there was only one pickled ramp in the dish, and that was the best part. DH had hanger steak for his main – it was very small, but good, with roasted garlic cauliflower, broccolini, crispy shallots, chimichurri, and I had the braised pork belly on house made steamed buns with cole slaw and bbq sauce. The pork belly was tiny and had no taste and they got lost in the tiny steamed buns. This place would be better for drinks and tapas, rather than dinner.
Ocean, Kennebunkport
Ocean is a very special place. It sits across the street from the ocean and the walls are mostly window with stunning views. The inside is decorated in muted tones with black and white chairs for a nice contrast. We were celebrating our anniversary and the two of us were seated at a large table for 4 next to a window and given glasses of champagne. We took our time ordering, enjoying the view. DH had the foie gras tart as an appetizer (I stole some) - Peppered Seared Foie Gras, Creamy Sweet Onion Tart, Asparagus Salad, Banyuls Wine Jus. It was exceptional and the onion tart would have been great on its own. For entrees he had the Fennel Steamed Lobster, Parmesan Roasted Asparagus, Italian Oyster Mushroom, Lobster Coral Butter and I had the beef duo - Beef Filet Mignon, Chorizo Braised Oxtail, Crisp Potato Nest, Baby Artichokes, Sweet Paprika Mousseline. Both dishes were excellent. I am not a fan of filet, but I loved this one. I especially loved, though, the oxtail - it melted in my mouth. For dessert we shared a warm brownie served with what was called an expresso cheesecake mouse. I love warm chocolate anything – I still love lava cakes, so that tells you where I am. The expresso cheesecake mousse was fantastic and I wished there were more of it on the plate. There were literally two very small dollops and I am also a sucker for anything coffee flavored!

Lunch
Central Provisions, Portland
This is another small plates concept restaurant. It’s a very small space with a large counter behind which the food is prepared. Seating is along the wall with a long booth with several tables. On this trip the place was not crowded. They have several beers on tap and DH had one – can’t remember which!. He also had the yellowfin tuna crudo served with radish, a mustard/sesame sauce and crispy shallot. They also have several foie gras choices, including whole lobe and sautéed, but not for lunch, so, he had his only foie gras option which was a parfait – the foie was made into a custard. He loved it! I was very happy with my chopped salad. Iceberg lettuce with candied bacon and pickled vegetables with a house made ranch dressing. Perfect size and delicious.

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Thanks for the reports - kicking ourselves that we didn’t at least sneak in to On the Marsh for Sunday brunch. We’ve got our lineup set for the next visit to Kennebunkport!

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What’s on it besides On the Marsh?

Certainly Ocean, too. We drove by and loved the setting. And Duckfat in Portland.

We went to Duckfat a few years ago. it’s kind of similar to Central Provisions. I don’t remember much about it but I do remember I was disappointed in the duck fat fries - thought I’d taste more duck fat. I understand that Fore Street in Portland is really good, but not open for lunch. We stay in Ogunquit and I really don’t want to make the drive home after dinner which always includes a cocktail or wine.

Edited to say - I keep a journal of all our trips - what we did, where and what we ate and impressions of the restaurant. All I said about Duckfat was that we ate there. I guess it didn’t make an impression even when we ate there!

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold