"To Eat is Human - To Digest Divine"

Down East Dining, a Lobster Fest and a World War II Dogfight

The fare at King Eider's Pub is as far from your usual pub fare as a Ritz Carlton is from a Motel 6. Above on the left are the spectacular Seafood Pie and the broiled scallops. On the right is the Guinness Creme Brulee and the Blueberry Crumble.

A quick trip to Mid Coast Maine where the pace is slower and the prices lower

The Owl's Head Transportation Museum put on a dogfight between a Japanese Zero & a USN Corsair.

And Rockland's Annual Lobster Festival was a blast.
Amalfi's Tapas Trio was a great start for a great meal.

And the spicy Spring Rolls blew Pat away.

My Amalfi Pan Roasted Halibut on Ratatouille.

Amali's Seafood Stew has everything but the view.

Jim had a great steak frites at Amalfi.

Two voluptuous Amalfi desserts - Merengue and Brulee.

The scene from our table at Amalfi, and yes, that a US Navy warship in the distance.

It's the way Maine Italians spell "Chow-da"

By Walter & Patricia Brooks

The impossible has happened. We just had oysters every bit as delicious as our wonderful Wellfleet bivalves, but we'll get to that in a minute. First we must set the stage..

This is the time of year we sneak off for a couple of days to what used to be the northern part of Massachusetts until some misguided Bay State pols agreed to let it separate into what is today's State of Maine as part of the Missouri Compromise of 1848.

We've always thought those1 8th Century Massachusetts legislators should have kept the northern part and let Mainers have what is today's Massachusetts.

This trip we sampled the fare at two very different but equally integrating restaurants, King Eider's Pub in Damariscotta and Amalfi on the water in Rockland.

The word pub doesn't do it justice

We have driven past King Eider's Pub dozens of times in our trip to Maine, usually heading for Moody's Diner for breakfast, but that's another story.

We always passed it by because of our mistaken belief about what a pub was, at least in King Eider's case.

We assumed it meant fish 'n chips, hamburgers and pizza, but we discovered instead a first class dining experience fed by Jed and Sarah and Todd and Cynthia.

First, about those oysters

Our server Tina at King Eider's recommended the Damariscotta River oysters which she said were 'selects', the largest size available, and the only one they serve.

Despite our parochial prejudice, we acquiesced and got a shock.

They were as good as Wellfleets and a lot bigger.

It was only the week before at another off Cape restaurant that we were served oysters this big, but they had about half the flavor of Wellfleets whereas these were just as good - is it possible - a tad better?

The Portland newspaper reports that King Eider is the one place to get both Ale and Oysters, so I went for their Steak & Ale Pie, chunks of tender beef simmered with ale and pearl onions, topped with a flaky crust, $17.95.

Pat had the Seafood Pot Pie (seedabove) of fresh Haddock, Maine Salmon and Scallops paired with a velvety cream sauce, topped with a flaky crust. Served with a house salad, $22.95

Our companions had the Broiled Scollops Florentine, scallops topped with butter and crumbs, broiled and served on a bed of steamed spinach, $20.95. and the seafood pie.

The dishes were all equal in their excellence. Pat said the Seafood Pot Pie was the best she'd ever had, and the flaky crust on the all pies were marvelous.

Sane people would have stopped a this point, but no one ever accused us of sanity, so we listened wisely again to Tina abetted and echoed by fellow server Phoebe and went for the Guiness Creme Brulee and the Blueberry Crumble which did terrible things to our waistlines while intoxicating our palates.

See the menus here.

On to Rockland and Amalfi where the only thing they overlook is the harbor

The next day was the annual Lobster Festival in nearby Rockland. We managed to spend over twelve hours in this vibrant seaport, watched the two hour parade and a terrific air show at the Owl's Head Air Museum a mile out of town where we watched one of the three Japanese Zeros still air-worthy in a dogfight with a U.S. Navy gull-winged Corsair.

Our dinner was at Amalfi which is harbor-side on the town's lively harbor walkway.

Owners Nancy Wood and partner-chef David Cook took over the former MBNA credit card call center headquarters building in the middle of the harbor-side park four years ago and have turned these handsome corporate rooms into a classic big city restaurant.

Our server Tracy persuaded us to try the Pemaquid Bay oysters, which matched those of the prior evening. They equaled the Damariscottas from the night before. Then we tackled Amalfi's multi-cultural menu.

Big city dining at Maine Diner prices

We get so used to the ever higher prices in the finer restaurants in the Northeast corridor we forget there is another America out there where the pace is slower and the prices are lower.
Mid Coast Maine is such a place.

I started with the chef's nightly selection in the Tapas Trio, Mediterranean inspired hors d'oeuvres, $8.50, Pat had the Fire Cracker Veggie Egg Rolls with peanut and Ponzu Sauces, $4.25, and we shared a B.L.&T. Salad with Blue cheese dressing, and all were superb.

Our entrees were the night's fish special, Pan Roasted Halibut, with Ratatouille and a saffron infused Seafood Stew. Both were both unusually created and delicious.

Our companions had the Haddock and Crab Citron, a baked Haddock filet with crab meat and lemon buerre blanc sause, $21. and a NY Strip Steak Frites with roasted garlic confit and a rosemary, Cabernet sauce, $24.

If we've whet your apppetite for Mid Coast Maine, check out these other great places: A culinary cruise and Lobsters & Blueberries and Thanksgiving in Maine.

Again, we went nuts over the dessert menu ordering a Meringue with cream and fruit and another Creme Brulee.

The Amalfi is situated a few feet from the bustling Rockport Harbor with it's  three and four-masted schooners and fishing boats moored in front of us.

You could say that the only thing Amalfi overlooks is the Atlantic.

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