Any town that can serve up more than 20,000 pounds of lobster in less than a week deserves a reputation for feeding its guests well. The annual Maine Lobster Festival, however, is only one small part of the foodie allure of Rockland, ME. Restaurants here in this midcoast Maine village are as eclectic as the […]
By Yankee Magazine
May 03 2018
Any town that can serve up more than 20,000 pounds of lobster in less than a week deserves a reputation for feeding its guests well. The annual Maine Lobster Festival, however, is only one small part of the foodie allure of Rockland, ME. Restaurants here in this midcoast Maine village are as eclectic as the place itself, which combines timeless rugged coastal scenery with the kinds of attractions and cultural events that you’d expect in much bigger towns (Rockland’s population is less than 8,000). There’s lots of classic boiled and fried seafood, sure, but also exquisite sushi, artisanal farm-to-table cooking, and gastropub fare.
So whether you’re in the area to cruise on a windjammer, browse masterpieces at the Farnsworth Art Museum, groove at the North Atlantic Blues Festival, or just enjoy wandering around a laid-back seaside community, count on these Rockland, ME, restaurants to provide all kinds of local flavor.
“Fresh from the farm” takes on new meaning at this eatery, where ducks, pigs, guinea hens, and chickens are raised on the premises (along with fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honeybees). Even the cocktails feature farm-grown ingredients. Allow yourself time to tour the gardens and pastures before sitting down to enjoy the Mediterranean fare created by two-time James Beard Award–winner Melissa Kelly and her partner, Price Kushner. In the white-tablecloth dining rooms, the daily-changing dinner menu might include pork saltimbocca or grilled local swordfish with caldo verde; in the casual, tapas-inspired Counter Room, look for house-made salumi, pizzas, Tuscan-style ribs, and local and imported cheeses. Named a 2017 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Farm-to-Table.”
Keiko Suzuki Steinberger certainly changed local attitudes about raw fish when she opened this Japanese restaurant downtown. The seafood that’s used in sushi and sashimi creations is as seasonal as any other harvest, and Suzuki eagerly awaits the herring and mackerel runs, the brief window in which to catch tiny northern shrimp (ama edi), and the late-summer run of bluefin tuna (toro). She’s on a mission now to get more Mainers to eat uni, the roe of the ubiquitous sea urchin. The day’s local catch is posted in the sushi bar’s front window.Named a 2018 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Sushi.”
Pizza? Check. Burgers and dogs? Yes. Gluten-free options and vegetarian choices? Yup. Pasta? Of course. Seafood? Ayuh. Meat and poultry? You betcha. Soups and salads? Uh-huh. French, Mexican, Asian, Indian, Greek, Italian, Polish, and other internationally inspired dishes? Oui. With small plates, large plates, and everything in between, Café Miranda’s humongous menu has something to satisfy everyone in your family. Named a 2016 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Restaurant for Picky Eaters.”
Equal parts chic and cozy, friendly and comfy, In Good Company is a must for wine aficionados and tapas fiends. Chef-owner Melody Wolfertz stages a one-woman show in the open kitchen, preparing small and large plates and desserts to ease conversation from evening into the night. Plus, for nearly 10 years Wolfertz has been staging one-of-a-kind “Food Journeys”: themed dinners, offered once a week from late January to April or May, that spotlight a culinary region, historical period, cooking style, and/or food expert. Named a 2013 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Place to Un-Wine-d.”
Sticky buns! Cinny buns! Smoked-salmon omelets! Poached eggs on homemade hash! Huevos rancheros on handmade corn tortillas with house-made salsa! And that’s just a sampling of the delicious choices that make Home Kitchen a must stop for all-day breakfast (though truth be told, it has a fine lunch menu, too). Named a 2014 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Breakfast.”
A newcomer to the local dining scene (November 2017), Ada’s Kitchen is another passion project of Rick and Jennifer Rockwell, the local father-daughter duo behind Rockland’s Main Street Markets. Presiding over the menu is chef Siddharta Rumma, originally from Rome, who helped launch Eataly Boston. Expect fresh, hand-made pasta, traditional pizzas, and hefty sandwiches and salads, all available for takeout as well as dining in at the historic Main Street building that houses Ada’s cozy dining areas, lounge, and bar.
Rock Harbor Brewing Co. got a big boost in 2017 with the opening of a production facility that raises its output from 165 barrels a year to around 2,000. But to enjoy those fresh local brews — which include easy-drinking pale ales and flavor-forward IPAs — with classic bar food, the place to go is still the original pub and brewery on Main Street. Choose from juicy, slab-like burgers and generously portioned sandwiches accompanied by handcut fries, or focus all your attention on the app menu: spicy and sesame wings, fried pickles, smothered cheese fries, and more. Meanwhile, regular open mic nights and trivia nights help ensure a fun and lively atmosphere.
A local institution that plates up breakfast and lunch daily, the Brass Compass has a broad menu but a famously expert touch with anything seafood-related. In the morning, look for the Penobscot Benedict, starring handmade crab cakes, and omelets brimming with crab or lobster. The lunch menu has all the seafood platters and rolls you’d expect — plus the signature King of Clubs, touted as the victor in a 2009 episode of the Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay. The winning combination: homemade bread, crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, and a pile of primo Maine lobster.
Do you have some favorite Rockland, ME, restaurants? Let us know!