After leaving Portland, toward our Boston July 4 rendezvous with friends, we took a very quick, painfully brief, reminiscent spin through a couple of our favorite Southern Maine towns. Our first “stop” was a drive (with about our only stops being for traffic) through one of the prettiest towns in Southern Maine—Kennebunkport.
Although Kennebunkport is certainly a tourist town, it’s a charming community with a beautiful port. It is filled with grand homes (many of which were suitably adorned for July 4th) and the somewhat overly cute Wedding Cake House, which a husband had built for his new bride.
The town also has a suitably pretty harbor and the grand estate, on a spit of land off the coast, of former president George H.W. Bush. And, of particular interest to a Maine food-crazed couple like us, our all-time favorite stop for fried clams—the suitably named Clam Shack.
Although there is little that can keep us from a stop at the normally packed (albeit, not typically at 10:00 AM), Clam Shack, we reluctantly drove on in favor of another star-chef restaurant in the surf and skin cancer resort of Wells Beach.
Although Wells Beach has never came close to our Maine favorites list, we were lured by an interesting menu at a Lydia Shire restaurant (Blue Sky) to which we had not yet been. (Lydia Shire is one of Boston’s star chefs and the owner of destinations including Locke Ober and Scampo.) Her Wells Beach restaurant was pretty enough. Greeted on packed Beach Street by a valet, who freed us of the trauma of searching for a parking space in the packed resort, we ascended into a lovely modern space and to a table on the balcony.
We decided to honor our last meal in Maine with a double dose of lobster—one in a lobster and cream pizza and one in yet another lobster Mac n’ Cheese. The pizza had little taste and the Mac n’ Cheese was the least memorable of the three on which we splurged during the trip. (Interestingly, the best—by far—was the one we had at Mount Washington Resort’s Stickley’s restaurant, deep in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. We were equally disappointed by Blue Sky’s service. Although we were one of only two parties at the restaurant (we were told that while lunch was always slow, they were packed for summer inners), we had to get up to find our server for every request and ask him twice to bring sweetener for our iced teas.
Snacking at Stonewall Kitchens
After Blue Sky, we made another of our regular pilgrimages; this time for a brief stop at the flagship branch one of our favorite condiment and kitchen gadget shops—Stonewall Kitchen. The store was, as always, a fun experience, offering tastes of all types of interesting oils, vinegars, mustards and toppings.
This time, however, we discovered something new; at least new for us. Since our last visit, Stonewall had opened a café. No ordinary snack shop was this. The menu consisted of a number of interesting dishes and sandwiches, including, from our longing glances at other diners’ plates, a very appealing lobster roll and lobster taco. Imagine our new disappointment. Try as we may, after our very forgettable lunch, we were simply unable to bring ourselves to ordering another, albeit much more interesting meal.
The Stops Not Made
We, as I mentioned above, have spend a lot of time in southern Maine and have a number of favorite stops. The Cape Elizabeth lighthouse, the marshes and coastline around Biddeford, the history of York, the charm of Ogunquit’s Perkins Cove and the town’s Marginal Way walk along the coastal cliffs.
Unfortunately, not this trip. We had a date in Boston.
But, after our morning’s culinary grief, we did, at least find some consolation. We found succor in the knowledge that we will soon (at least within the next couple years) return to Southern Maine. Next time we hit this area around lunch time, we will:
- Begin with a lobster roll at Stonewall Kitchen; and
- Finish with an order of fried clams from the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport.