We are off to Mt Desert Island mid June for a Saturday-Tuesday jaunt. Staying in Bar Harbor at one of the guest houses.
We have 2 reservations for Saturday night, Salt and Steel which looks good but a tad formal for us in BH and Capita which looks much simpler but is a little farther away in Northeast Harbor. Has anyone been to either and can offer their insight?
Spent Tuesday and Wednesday on MDI last week, our first visit in several years and first-ever for our friend. I was happy to see that lovely place again but it does feel like it’s being loved to death even mid-week. I don’t think June counts as shoulder season any more.
As a “bonus” the heat wave had followed us down east, making the crowds (with nary a mask in sight, even indoors) even harder to deal with. I’d say reservations and/or off-hours meals (plus flexibility) are all musts; I asked the host at Cafe This Way how the weekends were and he replied “pure pandemonium.” On the plus side CTW has pleasant outdoor seating and the food was as good as remembered. The corned beef hash in The Harney remains one of the best I’ve had.
Wandered around town some and got refreshments at MDI Ice Cream (short line mid-day, epic waits after dinner, partner recommends CJ’s Big Dipper’s blueberry soft-serve as an alternative) and drove the Park Loop Road with many scenic stops. We decided against waiting an hour for popovers at Jordan Pond House in favor of an early dinner at Thurston’s in Bernard, our MDI lobster pound of choice.
Those few extra minutes of driving paid off as it was notably cooler as well as quieter. There was almost no line at 4 PM (but a very long one as we were leaving). We got a table on the outside deck with a golden-lit Bass Harbor view and shared steamed mussels before tearing apart our lobsters (all hard-shell and packed with roe). It was pretty much an ideal first-time lobster pound experience for our friend.
Cooled down at our lodging’s pool and made it an early night. Thunderstorms and torrential rain around dawn added flooding issues to the mix; I really felt for the workers trying to do abatement amid the throngs. Folks who’d reserved the sunrise time-slots on Cadillac Mountain must’ve been disappointed.
Got Wednesday morning coffee from Choco-Latte (new to us), tried again for popovers (foiled this time by complete parking mayhem), and came back to Bar Harbor for lunch: subs from Epi’s (an old reliable) and another round of MDI Ice Cream. Then it was back to the park for our time-slot drive up Cadillac Mountain. The spring-like roadside waterfalls were a bonus even if the views were still on the hazy side.
Back at Jordan Pond House both parking and wait times were tractable and we finally achieved the canonical popovers on the canonical third try. I will say that the lawn seating and views were very pleasant (especially as the heat was backing off) and the popovers were fine, but not something I’d normally do that much work for. Friend enjoyed them, which was the point, but what I want are the proportions for the crab and goat cheese spinach-artichoke dip.
After a pleasant afternoon stroll through the tranquil Asticou Azalea Garden we departed MDI for the mid-coast leg of our trip. Will post those notes in another thread.
We had a great trip to MDI, weather and food both great. And just getting away after all this pandomania was a treat unto it self.
Left North of Boston early on a Saturday, cloudy but not rainy or too hot. Went 95 to 295 to 95 to 395 and then 1A to MDI. Very dull ride and we had an unexciting 5Guys burger for lunch.
We arrived around 4:00 and checked in, rested up and headed out to Northeast Harbor for our dinner at Copita.
We sat at the bar like normal people, in a small dining room, very nice setting. Some really nice cocktails listed but we settled on wine after the long ride and ordered the steamed clams, scallops, salad of arugula, beets, candied walnuts, feta and cream goat cheese dressing and the gnocchi with mushrooms.
The clams and the broth were excellent. Toasted bread with garlic aioli helped to make it better. Scallops had a great sear and came with feta stuffed roasted tomatoes. The gnocchi was well cooked but the mushrooms and the sauce were the best part. A really nice meal, staff were very friendly and it was away from the maddening crowd that is Bar Harbor these days.
The we headed to Beal’s Lobster Pound. 2 Lobster rolls, steamers, onion rings and cold beer.
Pictures were terrible, so I won’t share those. But it was all really good, sitting on the pier watching the boats.
We went back to the Loop road and stopped to admire the views and do some exploring. Such a beautiful area.
We had 7:00 pm reservations for Cadillac Mountain and we weren’t too hungry so we grabbed some premade sandwiches and fruit from the Hannafords across from our hotel and had a picnic before the ascent. Its a good ride up, plenty of places to stop and we had a very clear evening sky.
Monday morning we were up early and found egg sandwiches at deli downtown that also had some excellent looking pie that we never got back to.
We thought about a carriage road tour but they were booked up. We visited a few spots/trails and headed back to Bar Harbor to find lunch.
Ended up at the waterfront and settled on Stewman’s Lobster Pound. Very comfortable, on the water with a nice breeze. A cup of chowder and a lobster cocktail for me, a shrimp cocktail and lobster bisque for my DH. And beer for both of us. Very good lunch, the lobster and shrimp were very fresh, well cooked and the soups were just right.
Our last dinner on MDI was at Havana’s in Bar Harbor which we discovered is owned by the same folks that own Copita. Havana;s has an outside tapas type area, sits on the street and was pretty busy on a Monday night, our table was inside a warren of a building that was pretty warm. Its a more formal white table cloth type of place. Ordering apps as dinner would not be appropriate. But the food and service was excellent. We had a paloma and a pisco sour, a lobster cake that was a meal unto its self, a parihuela seafood stew which was not my cup of tea but DH really enjoyed and then the halibut and chicken dish from the entrees. Again, all was excellent, well cooked and seasoned. A lot of food. I did take my chicken home the next day.
We split dessert and its the only picture I have cause it felt weird taking pictures. The toasted coconut was my favorite part of it!
We came home the next day in rain, eating in Booth Bay at a meh tourist-y place after not finding one of our favorite spots.
Lessons learned this trip: not to stay in Bar Harbor, we like the quieter areas more… Eat more lobster…stay longer and if we go back to Havana’s we will sit outside.
Hope folks are well, vaxed and venturing out again.
What a fabulous report, thank you! Sounds like some excellent eats and I loved all the pics, especially the lobster salad with claw “ears” and Sandy Beach. Great trip, great report, such a good idea to do a lessons learned analysis on the way home.