Toby and I recently returned from a wonderful week spent in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island on the southern coast of Maine. We’ll be celebrating our fifth year wedding anniversary this fall, and we wanted to get away to celebrate, but since the baby is due in November, we moved up our plans to make it a summer trip. My parents were graciously willing to watch our toddler for the week while we made it a couples-only trip!
We rented a house in Bass Harbor, on the quiet side of the island. Renting the house afforded us the ability to make our own breakfasts at home, bring along snacks and easy-to-transport sandwiches for hikes and the chance to cook some dinners at home. Eating at home for dinner two nights allowed us to save a little money, unwind with a quiet, chill dinner, while still eating amazingly well. For our lunches and dinners out around the island, I catalogued our favorite spots below.
Our first night on Mount Desert Island, we had dinner at Seafood Ketch, right around the corner from where we rented a house. We had great outdoor seating, right on the water and the weather was gorgeous. Toby ordered a baked seafood casserole with lobster and I had delicious pan-seared Maine scallops that were perfectly cooked. We got a piece of yummy blueberry pie to-go for dessert later.
Thurston’s Lobster Pound
So good we ate here twice! We tried out this place on our second night and wanted to have the same lobster pound experience on our last night on the island too. This was a no frills kind of place, where you walk up to a counter, pick your lobster, then sit at our table while they cook your lobster in seafood bags in the steamers out back. Simply, yet deliciously, served with drawn butter, corn on the cob and coleslaw. On our last night, we added an order of steamed mussels as an appetizer and they were so good…and MASSIVE! I can’t recall ever seeing mussels that big before.
Abel’s Lobster Pound
After a naturalist-narrated cruise out to Little Cranberry Island one morning, we decided to backtrack our way down the highway to Abel’s Lobster Pound, which we had passed on our way to Northeast Harbor for the cruise. We picked a table outside to enjoy the views of the harbor and I ordered a lobster roll, while Toby ordered a whole steamed lobster. The lobster roll (on a kaiser bun, not a split-top bun ) was so good and super packed with big chunks of meaty lobster, served with house-made potato chips. For Toby’s lobster, they took the liberty of cracking it to make it easier to eat at the table and I thought that was a helpful touch. He loved the lobster there as well.
Side Street Cafe
This Bar Harbor restaurant was recommended by our guide book as having the best lobster roll in Bar Harbor and it didn’t disappoint. It was full of chunky lobster meat in a delicious, buttery split top bun. Toby’s pick for lunch – the lobster mac and cheese – was probably one of the best mac and cheeses I’ve ever had. I kept sneaking bites of it – you know, for the baby to try! It was super flavorful but not crazy heavy, with a decent scoop of steamed lobster on top. This restaurant gets bonus points for offering several non-alcoholic cocktails, with some of the proceeds of these drinks supporting alcoholism prevention programs in Bar Harbor.
MDI Ice Cream
After our visit to the Side Street Cafe, we ventured around the corner to MDI Ice Cream. They had tons of really interesting flavors to sample, but I ended up choosing Maine Salted Caramel (their most popular flavor) and 7 Layer (an ice cream version of my favorite bar cookie with coconut, graham crackers, chocolate chips and butterscotch chips). So good, and apparently devoured so fast that there is no photographic evidence to show for it!
The Burning Tree
I only made one dinner reservation during our trip as I wanted to play most of the trip by ear, but we did want one special dinner to celebrate our anniversary. This restaurant was recommended by both our guidebook and our friend Melissa, who lived on MDI for a few years before leaving last year for California. They serve mostly vegetarian and seafood fare and everything we ate was delicious. I had a delicious appetizer with a blue cheese croquette, roasted beets and almond butter. It was so tasty and very different! For my entree I chose seared cod with herbs, tomatoes and potatoes served in a really amazing broth. I had just enough room for fresh, local strawberry shortcake for dessert. Toby had an appetizer of crab and lobster egg rolls and a really yummy entree of seafood stuffed chard leaves. It inspired me to experiment with all those chard leaves taking over my garden back home! This restaurant was a great choice for a delicious and lovely night out.
Jordan Pond House
A must-visit after a long, beautiful hike around Jordan Pond! After a few snacks on our hike, we weren’t hungry enough for a full lunch, so we ordered the famous popovers, which came with butter and Maine strawberry jam and a Maine cheese plate. The popovers were served hot and fresh out of the oven in a basket brought by the wait staff so you get to choose the steamy popover yourself. We sat outside on the patio and the restaurant runs like a well-oiled machine with hostesses in headsets directing visitor traffic. We definitely enjoyed the views and the gorgeous weather on the patio while gorging ourselves with the popovers and delicious local cheese.
We stopped by the Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor one afternoon looking for a late afternoon snack after having eaten our sandwiches earlier in the day before our afternoon horse-drawn carriage ride on the Acadia carriage roads. This was a super quaint inn and I had considered making dinner reservations in advance here, but decided to only make the one reservation at The Burning Tree.
We had heard that the owners of the Asticou Inn had run the Jordan Pond House contract for the National Park Service for 80 years before losing the bid process a couple years ago so we were interested to compare our experiences, having visited both places. While I didn’t really notice any difference in service or quality of the popovers, we did think the food was delicious. Toby and I both had a bowl of seafood stew and two popovers, served with butter and both strawberry and blueberry jams, each. As their lunch service was winding down and they were readying for dinner service, we had the place mostly to ourselves. A fog was just starting to settle in so we didn’t get to enjoy the views of the harbor from the restaurant, but it was the perfect afternoon snack on that slightly chilly day.