Part II of Saar Harel’s three part East Coast Road Trip series takes us from New York City to the great state of Maine where he’s sampling some of the best seafood shacks, lobster rolls, and savory clam chowders along the way. Romantic B&B’s, seaside inns, fireplaces, and a metallic blue 2012 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid… what more does a fun, married couple need?
Before we left Kennebunkport to head further up the Maine coast, we had to stop to eat at The Clam Shack, a local favorite. Great for fried clams, they were also featured on the Travel Channel’s show, Food Wars, last year, winning for their Lobster Roll (which is no frills, but very fresh). We didn’t have a chance to try Nunan’s Lobster Hut in Cape Porpoise, but that, too, came recommended as another old school lobster house, only open for dinner and seasonal.
Back on the road, we headed further north. As an avid outdoorsman, we decided to take a break and stretch our legs to check out the “Costco of the Outdoorsman World” – Cabela’s. Now, for most people in the world, an outdoor/camping store is around the size of 3-4 rooms. Cabela’s, like any red-blooded American, believes that bigger is MUCH better. From the huge elk statue at the entrance to the multiple displays of old trucks, deer, lion, gazelle, and anything else you can legally hunt, you have to pay attention and try keep your mouth closed. It’s a veritable cornucopia of taxidermy bliss.
After seeing gun racks with well more than two thousand guns, my wife whipped out her camera to take photos (no doubt struck by the image of so many guns in one place). Then, we headed straight for target practice where we spent 30 minutes shooting at targets with a laser shotgun as we watched them pretend to be shot. The locals were amused. I purchased a gallon of the buck scent to bring back to my friend (since he needs all the help he can get with the young does).
Back on the road and two quick hours later, we reached the Inn by the Sea, a romantic luxury seaside resort in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The name itself is a great description because, well… it’s an inn and it’s by the sea. It’s exactly what you want it to be – comfortable and cozy with tasteful modern rooms and fireplaces set in rustic “historic” seaside architecture. All of this, of course, comes with sweeping views of Maine’s rugged coastline. Hungry from the drive, we dropped our bags before rushing off again to another seafood shack.
The Lobster Shack was a bit touristy, but with a lovely view of the sea, a lighthouse, and their own foghorn to warn ships. I guess not all ships have Porsche GPS. I had the illustrious clam bellies and Layla had the crab roll. Although we weren’t blown away (and we were already getting tired of fried seafood and bread rolls), we had to try the local delicacies, of course.
The lobster is said to be some of the best in the area and I don’t doubt that it is, but you can’t go wrong with lobster anywhere in Maine. That all said, the view was certainly worth it as you can grab your food and sit inside this cute little rustic area or outside on park bench tables overlooking the Cape.
As the weather was getting colder we headed back to the Inn and headed straight for the paths. The luck of the draw is that the resort is surrounded by two national parks, so, instead of paying Smokey the Park Ranger for parking, you can just walk into the parks after a few hours of amazing Atlantic scenery mixed with changing weather. Alas… after a few hours of walking along Cape Elizabeth’s craggy coast, hunger again reared its head. So, after enjoying a refreshing rainforest shower – which drenches you as it revives you – we headed over to the Cayenne which was parked at the entrance. Yes, the Inn by the Sea has been awarded a Silver LEED certification and part of that means there’s special parking for hybrid or eco-friendly autos at the entrance.
They’re the only hotel in Maine to heat with biofuel, waste food is sent to a local pig farm, they use high efficiency CFLs, recycled rubber makes up the cardio room floor, all paint is low VOC, wall coverings are made of recycled sheet rock, they have recycled key cards, and… they safeguard the area by planting different flowers and plants like milkweed for the Monarch butterfly. They also have Green Weddings with sustainable choices for gifts and organic menu options. Pretty impressive. And, for all of you pet lovers… Fido’s invited too – complete with a special doggy menu of goodies like Doggy Gumbo with Angus beef trips, steamed rice and dog biscuits or Meat “Roaff”.
For a pre-dusk drink, I recommend trying their Maine HoneyMaker Meads. Mead is honey wine and this one right here is made with 100% Maine wildflower honey. Flavors like Cranberry, Blueberry, or Apple Cyser aren’t as sweet as they sound and it’s delicious, different, and smooth on the palate.
Next up, we punched the address of David’s 388 into the Porsche Cayenne’s trusty GPS and were on our way. David’s is another restaurant you would never find if you didn’t know who to ask. We were lucky that my girl has the gift of gab because she’s always able to find the sweet spots. This little gem in the city of South Portland was fantastic. The décor was modern, the live band the perfect touch, the lighting ideal, the service both friendly and superb, and, although the place was full, the crowd was not nearly as noisy as New Yorkers – who often seem like they’re yelling at each other instead of talking. David’s 388 is your comfortable, casual neighborhood nook where diners can enjoy a range of bold flavors in an intimate space. The menu changes frequently and is separated into five categories: salads, starters, mains, neighborhood classics and desserts.
The food was incredibly good and, although the head chef was off at an event for one of his kids, judging from the apprentice’s cooking, the master is truly an expert. To start, we had a selection of delicacies. Blackened shrimp with honey Cajun sauce, shrimp stuffed with ricotta and wrapped in prosciutto (seen above), Pacific Rim tuna tartar with coconut chili truffle oil and sweet potato pommes goufret (our favorite) and crispy vegetable pot stickers with grilled Asian marinated beef in Peking sauce (okay, maybe tied with this). As a salad, the Peeky Toe crab and avocado salad with fresh mozzarella and tomato and avocado vinaigrette is stellar. For our main courses, we sampled the pork tenderloin with caramelized onion and grilled apple barbeque, mashed potato and crispy onions – something that my wife normally isn’t fond of, but, in this case, was all over. Slurp, slurp.
We also tried the beef tenderloin wrapped in double smoked bacon and, let’s just say, it’s a wonder they didn’t have to roll us out of there. It’s also a wonder we had room for dessert… a chocolate brownie napoleon with vanilla ice cream and, my wife’s favorite part, rum flambéed bananas. The plates were practically licked clean. And, of course, for the conclusion?
A flight of three Taylor-Flagate Tawny Port!
Stay tuned for Part III of Saar Harel’s drive up the Maine coast in the brand new 2012 Porsche Cayenne. He’ll be weighing in on Boston’s Clam Chowder, as well as a few fine dining options courtesy of the Morgans Hotel Group.