Home Kitchen Café (Rockland) is my hands-down favorite for breakfast and lunch, both of which are served all day. Closed Tuesdays, no dinner, closes at 3:00. Virtually everything is cooked from scratch in-house. Their Rubin [sic] has spoiled me for all others, their fish tacos are amazing, the haddock chowder is as good as it gets, the huevos rancheros are incredible – you get the point. Even a pedestrian tuna fish sandwich is elevated by their freshly-baked bread. And the service could not be nicer – I am in there a handful of times every summer but am recognized and greeted warmly each time.
Café Miranda (Rockland) is open year round and has an enormous menu (“because we can”), serving local produce, meat and fish as much as possible. Because the menu is so huge and eclectic absolutely anyone can find something they want to eat – it is narrowing down the choices that is tough. I recently had their “Wee Meat Pies” for the first time and loved them – little hand-made empanadas filled with pulled pork and black beans, with a lovely spicy salsa, avocado and sour cream. The lamb burger is also awesome as it their Et Tu Brutus salad (“kills a Caesar”). Two of us had pasta the other night and it was very good. The third in our party had a haddock special – she had been ordering haddock every time she saw it and we had taken to calling her the haddock addict – and said it was the very best yet. Huge portions always so sharing is a good practice although we didn’t and had leftovers.
Sammy’s Deluxe (Rockland). Dinner only, closed Sundays and Mondays. Sam was the chef at the late, much-missed Salt Water Farm Café in Rockport. Now he has his own place and is rocking it. A fairly short eclectic menu contains only two items not made in-house: potato chips and ice cream sandwiches. Everything else is made right there in the tiny kitchen. I recently had a baby romaine wedge salad with buttermilk anchovy dressing and slivers of all kinds of tiny vegetables, topped with lovely crunchy breadcrumbs and chopped herbs. It was like a farmer’s market on a plate, just wonderful. That was followed by a perfectly roasted skate wing done in a riff on the classic French buerre blanc presentation, with an herby green sauce under the fish, buerre blanc on top and lovely deep-fried capers. More crunchy yummy crumbs and more lovely veggies. This is amazing cooking and the prices are extremely reasonable. My very nice waitress recommended a wine so perfectly paired with the meal that I told her they should force anyone who orders the skate to get it. I raved about my meal so much that local friends went the next night and have been back since and love it as much as I do.
18 Central (Rockport) has been open exactly a year in the former Shepherd’s Pie space in Rockland Harbor. They have gorgeous patio seating with stunning views if weather permits. Much of the food is cooked on a huge wood-burning grill and the chef has really mastered that medium. I had been a couple of weeks ago and so enjoyed my harissa salmon that I could not think of ordering anything else when I returned with friends a week later. One of my friends had had it 3 weeks prior and felt the same way. Neither of us could quite believe that it was equally mind-bending the second time. The third DC had halibut which was equally perfect. The fingerling and finnan haddie salad with sturdy lettuces that I started with was also fantastic – radicchio, frisee and escarole dressed with a finnan haddie version of tonnato sauce, with deep-fried disks of fingerling potatoes and deep-fried capers, delicious and original. Desserts were consumed and were said to be equally wonderful. There is an extensive raw bar of which we did not partake but two guys barely paused all evening in shucking oysters. They were open all winter, not sure if they will be again this year.
Owl’s Head General Store. Closed Sundays and Mondays. I have only ever had the 7 Napkin Burger here and I doubt that will ever change. Please don’t tell them to leave things off it and then complain it wasn’t great. It is the over-abundance of toppings that really makes this burger, even if you think you don’t care for mustard on your burger. Neither do I, except on this one. I do generally add bacon just to really take things over the top. And I have been known to use more than 7 napkins too. I have heard tell there are other winners here but have no current plans to investigate.
Mussel Ridge Market (South Thomaston). This is a convenience store plus café, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. You can also pick up milk, beer, toothpaste and laundry detergent. There are tables both outside and in at which to consume your wonderful food cooked by Malcolm, formerly of the ‘Wich Please food truck, which is parked outside. The pork belly gyro was a delight, as was the Chicken ‘Wich sandwich. This is real food make from scratch and it is wonderful but it is not fast food. Bring your patience or do as the locals do and call ahead.
The Slipway (Thomaston). Last year they served a very limited menu as they were busy getting a sister restaurant (The Rhumb Line) up and running in Camden. I am happy to report a return to the full menu and my beloved Monk Nuggets (deep-friend monkfish nuggets) this year. Fish and chips are excellent with house cut fries and excellent coleslaw. They have wonderful salads which can be topped with a variety of things: crab, lobster, haddock cakes, fish. I am informed by reliable sources that the desserts are fabulous. Seating both inside and out on the long pier with wonderful views wherever you sit. I have a serious soft spot in my heart for this spot, there is nothing new or adventurous going on with the food here but it is fresh and local and treated with respect. Closed Tuesdays.
McLoon’s Lobster Shack (South Thomaston). Local friends all say this is the best lobster shack around. A tragic shellfish allergy renders me unable to verify this but it sure is cute and everyone raves about it.
Morse’s Sauerkraut and Deli (Waldoboro). Deep in the woods where you would least expect it is a wonderful shop selling house-made sauerkraut and pickles and all manner of sausages, charcuterie, cheeses and gourmet items, with an emphasis on German stuff but representation from everywhere. The place has been selling sauerkraut since the early 1900’s. There is also a small (5 booths) restaurant that does takeout too. We shared an order of kraut balls (ground pork and sauerkraut rolled in panko and deep-fried with a side of spicy Thousand Island) that bordered on life-changing. We also had sausage sandwiches (you choose your sausage from a list of about 8 or 10) which featured well-griddled apparently house-made rolls and tons of sauerkraut, with coleslaw and pretzels for sides. Very yummy.
Beth’s Farm Market (Warren). Near Morse’s so makes a nice combo excursion. They grow all the produce they sell and it’s really great although they stick to more mainstream items than you’d see at a farmer’s market – no kohlrabi here. They also sell their own jams and pickles, huge planter baskets and other garden plants and some frozen meats from local farms. In season they sell homemade strawberry shortcake that I hear is amazing. I have never been in the area in corn season but local friends tell me their corn is the best and they have a chalkboard talking about their corn maze and boasting that it has 600,000 corn plants.
Rockland Farmer’s Market. Thursday mornings, 9 to noon. Very nice farmer’s market with amazing views right on the water. Fine Line Farm sells the most amazing lettuces, pricy but oh so wonderful. Ravenswood Flower Farm sells gorgeous flowers, vase and all. Plus the usual assortment of produce, cheeses, baked goods, meat, chicken, eggs, honey and so on. Uproot Pie sells pizzas and bialys and there is another tent selling food where last week I got a heavenly Turkish Breakfast Sandwich consisting of hard-boiled egg, feta, cucumber, tomato, arugula, and (I think) dill aioli on a fabulous baguette and some terrific coffee.
Rock City Coffee Roasters (Rockland). Located on the road just above the farmer’s market this tiny shop sells hot and iced coffee as well as coffee beans and coffee paraphernalia. Really good coffee.
Jess’s Market (Rockland). Lobster and other seafood. Locals tell me this is the place to buy lobster to make at home. I have bought fish here and the quality is excellent.
Bleecker and Greer: Maine Street Meats (Rockport, tucked into a back corner of the State of Maine Cheese building on Route 1). This store would not be out of place in a big city and having it here on the mid-coast is remarkable. They are butchers and charcutiers and bakers who also source all kinds of goodies both local and international. Their rilletes, pates and sausages are all exemplary. They make a wonderful smoked duck breast. The lamb chops I bought there last week were the best I have had outside Britain. Their breads are terrific. They have Bahn Mi Mondays which I have never made it to. Open in the winter and amazing luxury goodies at Christmas.
Good Tern Co-op (Rockland). Much smaller than the co-ops in Belfast or Damariscotta but a nice resource for the area. Bulk spices so you can just grab what you need, a small high-quality variety of all the needful.
Curtis Custom Meats (Warren, on Route 90). I have not made it here this summer but last year I went and had to restrain myself from over-buying. The steaks I got were amazing. My reading tells me the steaks are from their own cattle. They also will dress your game in hunting season.
Common Wealth Farm (Unity). Chicken, Cornish hens, eggs – sold at the Camden Farmer’s Market (Wed and Sat), the Good Tern Co-op, Bleecker and Greer. This is chicken like it used to taste, so good it just needs salt and pepper before grilling. It spoils me for all other chicken.
I hope to keep this thread going with updates and would love to hear about other food resources in the rea that I have overlooked.