Maine's signature seafood - in one form or another - is the focus of three recent restaurant reviews, which shouldn't be a surprise, given that it's high season for the "bugs." Shonna Miliken Humphrey ventures all the way down to Wells for her review in The Portland Press Herald, joining the 6-million-plus people who have visited the Maine Diner since it opened in 1983. The place is famous for its lobster pot pie - "approximately two lobsters' worth of tender, identifiable meat (full claws and big tail pieces) piled into a casserole dish and topped with a thick layer of buttery cracker crumbs" - which Humphrey finds worth the hype and 4 1/2 stars.
Why, I question, would a person continue to battle Route 1 summer tourist crowds for simple diner fare?"Because of the Maine Diner's Lobster Pie." Repeated again and again, this signature item took on a mythical status, and friends recalled its consumption with nostalgia usually reserved for first loves and antique automobiles.
The view's the thing at The Lobster Shack At Two Lights, says DownEast's John Golden, "a stunning panorama of bold cliffs and crashing surf," in Cape Elizabeth. But the food is good too, "hearty, plentiful ... and locally sourced," although he admits he prefers visiting just before or after the tourist season, when the parking lot is minus the "family vans and supersized SUVs." Golden likes his fried clams, steamed lobster and sweet coleslaw; onion rings and fries are unremarkable. He approves of the homemade tartar sauce, taking a pot shot at Harraseeket Lunch in Freeport - "one of my least-favorite pounds" - for having "those packets made by Kraft Foods."
Lynn Archer, owner of The Brass Compass in Rockland was recently in the news for having won a battle with the town over outdoor seating in an adjacent public park. However, it was another fight a few years ago that put her in the national spotlight - her lobster club sandwich bested Bobby Flay's on Throwdown. The From Away bloggers note that the restaurant is bedecked with references to Flay and to Archer's victory; while not all the food impresses, the $21.99 sandwich is "over-the-top" and totally worth it.
Bobby Flay would trade your virginity for a passing grade on his Art History final. But I bet he makes a killer lobster salad. He used saffron to be fancy and win your favor. He still lost though.The Map & Menu blog doesn't really want to let anyone else in on the (not-so) secret that the often boisterous patio at El Rayo Tacqueria in Portland is the best spot to spend a summer afternoon - Dos Equis in one hand, fish taco in the other.
There are plenty of fantastic things on the menu (the bowls, the burritos, the other tacos, and definitely the Mexican-style corn on the cob), but there is just something special about the El Rayo fish taco.· Maine Diner Does Down Home And High End Superbly [PPH]
· Two Lights: A Lobster Shack On The Rocks [TGD]
· The Brass Compass Cafe [FA]
· El Rayo Tacqueria [M&M]