Bar Harbor, Maine at dusk.
Dick and I just completed another annual 1,200-mile June road trip on our Harleys. We’ve been doing this trip in June for almost 20 years with my sister and brother-in-law who live in Goode, Virginia. Dave is originally from Maine, so a visit to Bar Harbor is always in the cards via his hometown of Bucksport, where the Penobscot Narrows Bridge is a piece of art. The bridge is the first in the nation to test carbon composite cables. According to the bridge’s project manager, carbon composite cables are stronger than steel and more resistant to corrosion. The observation tower, the only one like it in the Western Hemisphere, rises 420 feet above sea level. We’ve been told the views are breathtaking, which we can tell you certainly are breathtaking enough from the seats of our Heritage Softail Classics.
Our trips are about the travel—the most scenic routes with our priority on dining at farm-to-table restaurants. And with today’s emphasis on local eating, we are usually not disappointed. Our first stop is the Hudson Valley’s quaint village of Rhinebeck, where we meet up with Carol and Dave. Gigi Trattoria, known for serving locally grown produce, is a restaurant we’ve enjoyed for years. But now there is competition. Market Street, with a wood-burning oven in the center of an open kitchen, is another emporium emphasizing local ingredients. Both are great choices.
From Rhinebeck we often head to Woodstock, VT, a quintessential New England village, basically run by the Rockefeller family. The Woodstock Inn is a lovely family resort, and it’s Red Rooster restaurant boasts produce from local farms. Through the last several years, it has been sometimes great and sometimes not. At the moment we all feel it is in need of some shaking out and pizzazz. The more casual and popular locals’ spot is the Brick Oven Trattoria. The Shire Riverview, just down the road from the Woodstock Inn and serenely situated on the Ottauquechee River, is a real sleeper. Not far from Woodstock is Simon Pearce in Quechee with its lovely riverfront restaurant.
The term “you can’t get there from here” best describes traveling west to east through Vermont and New Hampshire. It’s over hill and dale to Portland, Maine, a fine dining destination. We like the Portland Harbor Inn with its central location and convenient underground parking. We wouldn’t miss going to Fore Street, which is among our favorites. The newly opened Eventide (oysters and so much more) fills a surprising culinary void. Reservations at Fore Street are nearly impossible to grab, but if you line up early enough (4:40 or earlier), you can put your name in and sit at the bar to either eat or have a drink until a “walk-ins” table is possibly available.
Traveling to Camden via U.S. Route 1 means going through Wiscasset, worm capital of the world, and, perhaps, more important to most of us, the home of Red’s Eats, about the best place in Maine for lobster rolls. The line can snake around the little shack, but moves relatively quickly. Yummy is one whole lobster piled high per roll, your choice of melted butter or mayo.
In Camden, there are many fine choices to stay. Two of our favorites are Camden Harbour Inn and the Grand Harbor Inn. Francine Bistro is Dick’s hands-down favorite restaurant. Don’t be put off by the very funky exterior. It’s a gem. Natalie’s at Camden Harbour is fine dining with professional service and lovely views of the harbor and Mt. Battie. Breakfast is also something you do not want to miss at Natalie’s.
It used to be that the Lobster Pound in Linconville, north of Camden, had perfectly cooked steamers and lobsters, but our last couple of stops have been a bit disappointing. Perhaps the owner’s eye is not so much on the ball since they have expanded to include a brewpub.
Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound in Ellsworth, Maine, has been a destination of ours since the beginning. We are always happy to see the family and were saddened to hear that George Gascon, the iconic patriarch of the family business, died this winter at the age of 91. If you want to taste the freshest lobster ever, go here for the crustaceans steamed in wood-burning cookers. Choose the size lobster you want and enjoy steamers while you wait for your lobster to cook.
We didn’t have time this trip to go to another of our favorites, Primo in Rockland. It’s renowned for its farm-to-table fare, often its own. And, of course, there is always L.A. Burdick in Walpole, N.H., impossible to get to from east, west, north or south, but well worth the trip regardless of where you are going to or coming from. The menu is creative without being trendy.
And finally, we often find ourselves is Amherst, MA—not necessarily a destination in its own right, unless you are on the college hunt. But for us, a nice reprieve from full days of riding after many days on the road and a relatively short ride back to Newport. The Lord Jeffrey’s 30 Boltwood is a most enjoyable and tasty stop. Nestled in the center of Amherst, the inn has lovely patios and gardens and outside fireplaces for those chilly Pioneer Valley evenings. Chez Albert, also in Amherst center, is a great French find. We love it.
Debbie & Dick