Monday, June 17, 2013
Making a menu selection for me is a struggle and I usually change my mind three times once the waiter or waitress actually asks for my order. Because I had know the owners would be out of town for the evening and Bitza was Chef I asked his advice on what to order. He suggested that I 'let him surprise me.' Surprise does not describe the meal we experienced for our anniversary. Allow me to walk you through the evening.
The Inn has a dining room, blue patterned carpeting, white tablecloths, formal yet inviting. In a room off the living room is the warmly lit Tavern with a large granite bar, several tables, deep dark wood everywhere, model ships, a ship's wheel and a well-stocked bar. adjacent to the Tavern with two past through is The Chart Room. More warm wood tones, an ebony piano, nautical charts and tables. A few tables in both the Tavern and Chart Room have very masculine camel colored leather wing back chairs fit for a Sea Captain.
We arrived a bit early for dinner and enjoyed a drink at the bar, marveling at the surroundings and the backyard rhododendron in full bloom. Suzie made our drinks and entertained us with conversation. We made our way to the corner of the Chart Room and selected a table in he corner by the windows. Our waitress Peke, who also works the Front Desk of the Inn during the day, was dressed in white button up shirt, black slacks and a long white wait staff apron. She let us know that Bitza was preparing our meals and recommended the Pinot Noir (my fave!).
The first plate to materialize at our table was an amuse bouche, that is bite sized food meant to amuse the mouth and prepare the palate. A sampling of mortadella, smoked almonds, briny olives, garlic scallions, radishes, Parmesan, crab cakes and house cured duck breast. Bitza was going to pull out all the stops. I will take this opportunity to apologize for any errors in identifying the food, I was having a hard time not passing out from foodgasm delight.
The next items to arrive were Pemaquid Oysters with a prosecco Mignonette, a sauce of shallots, vinegar and pepper and flat bread with mortadella, mozzarella and garlic scallions. The pairing of the mignonette with the oysters transforms what is on it's own a beautiful metallic, plump taste of the sea into something that makes you close your eyes, hum and rock gently back and forth. The flat bread was crisp and airy at the same time with fatty mortadella giving it richness and depth of flavor.
At this point we were in awe at the level of detail and execution and could not wait for our entrees. We didn't realize more courses were coming. Next to arrive were Damariscotta River clams casino, grilled with apple wood smoked bacon, oregano and sweet pequillo peppers. These little gems are smaller but meatier than the oysters and stand up to the pieces of sweet smoky bacon. I became somewhat worried with the amount of food we were having and whether or not I was up for the challenge - I was thankful I chose Lycra spandex for my evening wear. Our silverware was replaced several times during the meal and our crumbs swept away, never a detail missed.
Peke and Mara arrived with two more plates, this time New Harbor lobster fettuccini with house made tender fresh pasta, fire roasted tomatoes and a tarragon cream. This was served in individual tureens, porcelain white bowls on their own lovely stands. The anise flavor of the tarragon in the cream was perfection.
Just when I started considering if I would be stricken with gout on the ride home Bitza arrived in Chef coat with one more plate, our entrée. A locally sourced skirt steak with rosemary crisp fries and a chile glazed duck breast over risotto. The beef was tender and buttery, the duck done perfectly with crispy glistening skin.
Somehow we mustered the courage to order dessert, I had to see how they came out and honestly hadn't tried the lemon pudding myself despite having made it several times. My husband ordered the Espresso Crème Brulee and set about rolling his eyes back into his head. I had the lemon pudding served in a tea cup with Maine blueberries and a sugared pansy. We were treated last with the check and a mignardise or small sweet, two of the caramels dipped in dark chocolate with sea salt that I had made.
The food was incredible, the service - top notch. We talked about how wonderful the restaurant is and how it seems to be a closely guarded secret. I will do my part to get the message out to others. It truly is a treat and while you can sit and have a white tablecloth experience you can also sit in the Tavern and order small plates of any of the above for the pleasure of the food in a more casual 'off with the cloth' atmosphere.
Please go, you won't be disappointed.