Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Couple of Good Southern Maine Eateries

Sandra and I took a trip out to Maine yesterday. Actually, our original goal was to visit Strawbery Banke's annual Candlelight Stroll after paying a visit to the factory outlets across the Piscataqua River in Kittery, Maine, but we got sidetracked.

First, the factory outlets are fun. Despite the fact that there is no sales tax in New Hampshire, people still cross the border into Maine for the nice prices on items in Kittery.

Up until a couple of years ago, finding good eats wasn't easy in Kittery. Of course, there was the Weathervane, which is a chain of seafood restaurants with its original location right in the middle of the Kittery outlet mall. However, ever since Weathervane opened up a location in Salem, NH (where I live), neither Sandra nor I ever had the desire to visit the one in Kittery. After all, why visit someplace that has the same food that you can get at home? Right?

A few years ago, however, Bob's Clam Shack, which is an aptly named tiny seafood shack near the Kittery Trading Post, purchased the old Quarterdeck restaurant, remodeled it extensively, and reopened it as Robert's Maine Grill. The place is bright and airy, and it now has a larger bar on the main floor (the Quarterdeck had a tiny bar that was difficult to find on the second floor).

Since Robert's opened, it quickly became a favorite of the family. The menu isn't large, but the food they offer is delicious and the prices aren't too expensive.

This weekend, Sandra and I decided to just do appetizers. Sandra ordered the clam chowder, and I ordered Howard's Mussels, which the menu describes as "our interpretation of a famous chef from Provincetown's great recipe—made with sausage, fennel, and cream." The mussels came with a couple of slightly toasted pieces of french bread, which was useful for sopping up the wonderful cream broth. Even Sandra, who generally doesn't like mussels, thought the taste was fantastic. Sandra's chowder was, as usual, creamy and very good.

For dinner, we headed further north to Cape Neddick where we went to another family favorite, the Cape Neddick Lobster Pound Harbourside Restaurant. Actually, we decided on this restaurant the evening before we left, and I went so far as to check the restaurant's web site for their hours (I knew they were open year round, unlike a lot of lobster pounds). Interestingly, this restaurant doesn't post their hours on their web site. Instead, I copied the phone number to my cell phone, and Sandra called them up during the afternoon to find out that they are open continuously from noon until they close at nine PM. (Why can't they put that on their web site?)

I've already written about Cape Neddick last September, and it really hasn't changed all that much. The place wasn't crowded at all when we arrived at about 5:30. We were seated close to a roaring fire, which made for a nice atmosphere for the chilly day—there was a light dusting of snow on the ground from a few days prior, and the temperature on Saturday dove into the teens. For our meals, Sandra ordered twin one pound lobsters, and I noticed that they had prime rib on their specials list, so I ordered that.

Our meals were wonderful, as usual. The waitress was prompt and attentive, and apologized profusely when her serving tray fell over, spilling our side dishes to the floor (they were promptly replaced!).

After a full day in Maine, both Sandra and I were beat, so we drove straight home from Cape Neddick, skipping the Candlelight Stroll at Strawbery Banke. I guess we'll have to take the stroll next weekend (or the weekend after that... ).

Bon Appetit!

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