My mom grew up in the small town of Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. I was lucky to spend lots of time during my childhood experiencing snowy Maine winters and beautiful summers on Sebec Lake with my grandparents and cousins.
Food was always an integral part of these Maine memories for me. Whether it was my Grammie’s yeast rolls, her chocolate chip cookies, the lobster stew that was always served on Christmas Eve, or husking the corn and shelling the peas with my Poppy, these trips were always full of delicious food!
Just a few weeks ago, my Mom and I planned to visit our family in Maine, but COVID had other plans, and our Maine family got sick at the same time we were supposed to visit. On a whim, we decided to meet in Portland and spend a few days together. I booked us a room at the Haraseeket Inn in Freeport, did my restaurant research, and we had the absolute best 72 hours together! I highly recommend visiting Maine, especially if you’ve never been before. While there are so many beautiful places to visit in Maine, I’m focusing this blog on the highlights of my trip to the southern coast.
Where to Stay?
The Haraseeket Inn in Freeport was built in 1984 – it’s a gem on Main Street right in the middle of Freeport’s shopping area and the hospitality from the staff is warm and genuine. Your room includes daily tea at 3:30pm complete with a delicious assortment of baked goods (my favorite was the Herbs de Provence scone) and finger sandwiches, and a big buffet breakfast in the morning complete with blueberry pancakes some days of the week.
The inn has a pool, a fire pit, and beautiful grounds where you can relax in Adirondack chairs. The rooms are spacious and beautifully appointed!
What to Do?
When we arrived, we headed for the Portland Head Light – a quintessential light house perfect for picture opportunities (and wild hair!)
I knew that we wanted one day to shop at our leisure on Main Street in Freeport, which is a nice mix of mom-and-pop shops and well-known brands and outlets including the home of L.L.Bean.
I decided we’d use our other full day to do something new and adventurous. We headed to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine to hike through a beautiful selection of trails and gardens, seeking out five trolls created by Danish artist Thomas Danbo, known as the world’s leading recycled-materials artist. Made of recycled wood, the gigantic troll sculptures really make the trip a magical experience, for kids and the young-at-heart (like me!). The gorgeous flowers and butterfly exhibit were also highlights for me!
What to Eat?
Onto the most important aspect of the trip… food and drink! Whenever I have a night in or near Portland, my first choice for dinner is Fore Street. It deserves all the awards and accolades it receives – the food is outstanding. If you’re like me and haven’t made a reservation well in advance, just plan to arrive at 4:45p for their opening at 5pm. You’ll sit in the bar and have a cocktail, and you’ll be alerted when your table is ready.
Our dinner was so delicious that my mom and I are still talking about it weeks later! We shared the fried zucchini appetizer, I got the hangar steak, and my mom got the haddock with lobster chowder. Every bite was better than the next. Oh and the bread is baked at Standard Baking in their basement, so it doesn’t get any fresher than that!
Part of traveling through Maine involves being up for the challenge of trying as many lobster dishes as possible, of course. After our hike through the botanical gardens, I took us on a drive to McLoons Lobster Shack.
It’s a traditional lobster shack right on the water, and in true coastal Maine style, we were fogged in when we arrived, but by dessert the fog had cleared and we had a beautiful view of the boats.
We ordered the corn chowder (chock full of bacon, corn, and potatoes), the Lobster Rolls Royce (twice the size, and price of a regular lobster roll) to share and at $44, it has huge chunks of lobster and was worth every penny!
I loved that you could choose mayonnaise or butter, but truthfully, it needed nothing! We topped off the meal with blueberry soda and a whoopie pie the size of my face, because let’s be real, if you don’t have a whoopie pie when you’re in Maine, did you even go? This was probably the best whoopie pie I’ve ever had. If you’ve never had one, a whoopie pie is a chocolate cake, marshmallow frosting filled sandwich. Need I say more?
I’d had my share of blueberry pancakes, muffins, and scones at breakfast and tea, so when I saw a Blueberry and Ricotta Pizza at Brickyard Hollow, a casual spot known for craft beer and pizza, I knew I had to try it.
It didn’t disappoint and was the perfect mixture of sweet and savory. The fried brussels sprouts with Thai chili sauce were delicious too!
My mom’s favorite lobster shack is the Haraseeket Lunch and Lobster (not connected to the Inn, but close by). We got a lobster dinner complete with corn on the cob and steamers (clams), a fried clam (make sure they are whole clams, breaded, not battered!), onion rings, and strawberry rhubarb pie!
You’ve got to go with a plan, and hopefully more than one person, so that you can divide, conquer, and share. This is one of the only shacks I know that offers the option of batter or breading for fried seafood.
It's right on the water, as any good lobster shack is, and you’re not doing it right if you don’t make a mess!
At some point, you’ll want a break from all that traditional seafood, and get a hankering for tacos, or barbecue, or both… or maybe that’s just me. Either way, be sure and try Terlingua. The griddled mac and cheese appetizer is everything you want in mac and cheese – creamy, crunchy, decadent, and more!
The fish tacos and brisket tacos were both delicious, paired with their homemade hot sauce, but I’d give the upper hand to the brisket!
The frozen painkiller and strawberry basil margarita were the perfect beverages to wash it all down.
We topped off the meal with a walk in the old port’s cobblestone streets and gelato from Gelato Fiasco.
For my last vacation meal, I decided on Eventide. If you’re an oyster fiend, this is the place for you! There are so many different options to choose from.
We opted for the crab roll and lobster stew which was among the best lobster stews I’ve ever had. I’m typically a traditionalist but the green curry in the stew, and mushrooms, are absolutely spectacular. Also, they had me at homemade saltines!
I was so grateful to spend a few days away with my mom. We’re still talking about all the incredible food we ate and all the fun exploring we did together. I can’t wait to make this an annual trip!
If you’re looking for a fun getaway, add the coast of Maine to your list. If you can’t get to Maine fast enough, join us for some fabulous cooking classes to make some memories that highlight seafood! In-person, we are offering:
- Summer in the City on the Patio (Scallops!) Thursday, September 1 6pm
- Italian Surf and Turf on the Patio (Octopus!) Friday, September 2 6pm
- Date Night on the Patio (Shrimp!) Friday, September 9 6pm
- Shellfish on the Grill on the Patio (Shrimp, Scallops, Mussels, and Lobsters, oh my!) Saturday, September 10 6pm
- Rendezvous Under the Stars on the Patio (Scallops) Friday, September 16 6pm
Virtually, we are offering:
- Virtual Blackened Mahi Mahi with Black Bean-Mango Salsa and Chipotle Mayo and Scallion Rice on Friday, August 26 at 6pm CST