News and chews: Bar Harbor and elsewhere on Mt. Desert Island, Maine

Liar, liar, pants on fire—If you have a hot-off-the-press edition of Moon Coastal Maine or Moon Maine, and you’re up on MDI, you’re probably wondering if you can trust me. Honest, I had it right when I left last fall, but there have been quite a few changes over the winter. Here’s a brief overview:

Bar Harbor:

SHOPS: Eclipse Gallery has downsized; Bark Harbor has moved closer downtown and downsized a bit, with another pet boutique replacing it as its old location. Aragone Gallery has moved to Main Street. Bar Harbor Brewing has moved to Mt. Desert Street, across from the Village Green, and offers tours and tastings most afternoons.

LIGHT FARE: Michelle’s Brown Bag also has moved a few doors closer to downtown on Main Street.

Not Quite the Corner Deli is no more. In it’s place is Downeast Deli, offering the usuals for lunch.

Café Milagro has expanded to the adjacent storefront, adding housemade gelato as well as sweet and savory crepes. I tried a scoop of the dark chocolate gelato: rich and creamy. I want to return for the smoked salmon crepes. The Spot Grill, which was next to Café Milagro has moved closer to The Criterion Theater, which is getting a new marquee any day now.

Morning Glory Bakery has sold and been remodeled. The new layout is greatly improved, and there’s indoor seating. Box lunches are no longer offered, but the menu has expanded to include quiches, soups, foccacia, small heat-and-eat pizzas and other goodies.

RESTAURANTS and BARS: The Thirsty Whale was torn down and rebuilt in the same location—looks exactly the same, but with that newish tinge. Still favored by locals for pub grub; nothing on the menu even approaches $10.

Carmen Veranda is under new ownership, but remains in same location

EPI will reopen soon–there are help-wanted signs in the window and there’s activity inside.

McKay’s Public House has a new head chef, Emily Damon, previously with Northeast Harbor’s 151 Main and House of M. NOTE: June 3 is a special Spring Wine Dinner for $75; reservations are essential.

LODGING: The Bar Harbor Hostel has a “for sale” sign in front of it.

Southwest Harbor/Northeast Harbor:

Maddy’s—the ultra-kid-friendly hot dog palace in Southwest—is gone; replaced by a not so kid-friendly bar.

Gilley’s Head of the Harbor—no, it’s not even in the book–was a rather lack-luster seafood joint hard on Route 102 just west of downtown Southwest Harbor, but with nice views over the harbor. Word from a trusted source is that the woman who’s been running Thurston’s Lobster, in Bernard, bought this and plans to make it a Southwest Harbor version of Thurston’s.

Little Notch Bakery is expanding and opening a location in Northeast Harbor.


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9 Responses to “News and chews: Bar Harbor and elsewhere on Mt. Desert Island, Maine”

  1. David Feltus Says:

    Just a quick note.

    I’ve always enjoyed Head of the Harbor’s fried seafood, atmosphere and view of Southwest Harbor. Why call it “lack-luster?”

    It was a pleasant surprise to find that Head of the Harbor had reopened this summer. The fried clams weren’t as good as they had been under the previous owners, but the seafood chowder was superb. As an aside, both were better than anything I’ve ever had at Thurston’s Lobster Pound in Bernard.

  2. Hilary Nangle Says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your thoughts. My lackluster comment referred to the setting. When you see it from the Main Street, it really doesn’t look like much, and in the past few years, it’s almost looked a bit forlorn. Thanks for the chowder recommendation. I’ll try it the next time I’m in town. As for Thurston’s, it’s all about the setting and the views. After a recent visit to Southwest, my best memory is from the Seafood Ketch. Good food, good service, nice views.


  3. David Feltus Says:

    Hi, thanks for the clarification. My family and I loved the Seafood Ketch and ate there regularly for many years (up until the late 1990’s). I was especially fond of the seafood taster. We also really enjoyed getting freshly picked Maine crab meat from C. H. Rich & Company across the parking lot. As an aside, back on the mainland, we’ve found that Pectic Seafood’s new location (in addition to Hall Quarry) on route 3 in Trenton has great fried clams and fish chowder, as well as many other items for take out or eat in. You might want to check it out. Back on the island, I was greatly disappointed with Beal’s Lobster Pier this year. They’ve reorganized and the Captain’s Galley is no longer in a separate building. I thought the lobster roll I got there this July was far lower in quality than in previous years. Wish you had more to say about Morning Glory and Little Notch, their food is super.

  4. Hilary Nangle Says:

    Yes, Pectic is a great addition to Trenton. I blogged that in a different post. I love Morning Glory Bakery, and I recommend it in my books.

    I was very disappointed by Little Notch this year, though. I’m a chocolate chip cookie fiend, so I purchased one there from a very sullen, rude teenage boy working the counter. It was outrageously overpriced, nearly $3. For that I’d expect close to perfection. Wrong. It was dry and tasteless. I won’t be back anytime soon.

    On the other hand, nearby Eat-A-Pita/Cafe2 surprised me with how good everything was–lunch, dinner and dessert, and fairly priced, too. i didn’t get to DeMuro’s this summer, but in the past I’ve found it a sleeper. Friends have said that prices have crept up, though. Have to put it on my list for next time.

  5. David Feltus Says:

    I don’t mean to tie you up in a dialog, but I do have some additional comments.

    We (Lynn – my significant other – and I) didn’t get a chance to get anything from either Morning Glory or Little Notch during our July trip. So, we haven’t experienced the good or the bad of them recently. Lynn’s mom, who lives in Surry, really enjoys Little Notch pizza though and we usually try to pick up one for her when we are roaming around the island.

    Lynn and I both agree that Eat-A-Pita/Cafe2 is great. We’ve had a few dinners there and several breakfasts (the breakfasts back in 2000).

    If you like cookies, Lynn says the oatmeal blue berry cookies from the Trenton Pectic are excellent. She just finished the only one she bought in July this past Sunday (she ate it in relatively small pieces). Lynn says she wishes she could go back and eat 12 more. We will back in October, so I will see how close to the truth this statement is.

    The Thirsty Whale has been a favorite of mine for a long time (since at least 1995). At one point, I ate fried clams there every day I was in the area. The clams were reputedly from a local clammer who dug his clams on Mt. Desert. During the last big red tide, the fried clam quality at the Thirsty Whale dropped precipitously and it has not fully recovered. I still eat there once or twice a trip. They have a number of non fried clam items that are very good. A final positive point, this July, due to the remodeling, the bathroom was no longer revolting.

    Another favorite island restaurant of mine is the Chart Room. The fried clams, steamed clams, French fries and coleslaw are very good to excellent. The view is super.

    Far off the island, and significantly further south, Lynn and I both recommend the Muddy Rudder, Rt 1, Yarmouth (conveniently just off of I295 a little north of exit 17, where the DeLome Map Company building is, as well as a Maine State Visitor Information Center) and a little south of Freeport. I recommend the fried clams (of course), French fries and coleslaw. Lynn recommends the fajita wrap. The view of the Cousins River from the dining room is really very nice. The service tends to be good and quite friendly.

    Finally, though I could go on and on (in case I haven’t), I recommend Hanscom Seafood’s crabmeat (207-664-2112). My mom, who now lives near us in Raleigh, says it’s the best she’s ever had. She’s very hard to please and she ate and loved C. H. Rich & Company’s crabmeat for many years. Lynn and I agree that Hansom’s crabmeat is wonderful. Hanscom’s place, primarily for wholesale, is a little north of Ellsworth off of route 1A on the way to Bangor. We’ve been buying 8 to 10 lbs a trip. It’s worth a call and a visit.

  6. Dianne Says:

    David can be passionate about FOOD and Mt Desert Island! He is right on regarding his opinions and reviews. I once traveled with him to Maine and he was my tour guide. Years after, I still remember the food (from many places he previously mentioned) and the sights.

  7. George Cain Says:

    Thanks for the tip that Emily Damon is at McKay’s. We loved her restaurants in Northeast Harbor. She’s a very talented chef!

  8. George Cain Says:

    Ate at McKay’s recently and Emily Damon is no longer there. Wonder where she’s cooking now?

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