Thursday, April 24, 2014
In the quietly well-bred summer colony of Southport Island at the tip of the Boothbay peninsula, Oliver’s Restaurant rose out of the ashes of a long-standing place called Gus’s, a beloved relic that served as part luncheon counter, part bowling alley and part market where if you weren’t called by your first name, a nickname would do. When old Gus Pratt died several years ago, the place came up for sale, and many residents worried about its fate.
It sits at the tip of Cozy Harbor, a picture perfect anchorage if there ever was one. And next door is the SYC (Southport Yacht Club); on this past weekend when I was staying with friends a few houses away, it was also the evening of the club’s annual clambake.
Oliver's Restaurant, Cozy Harbor, Southport
Inside, the sliding doors open to the dining deck outside
So I offered to take my hostess out for lunch at Oliver’s since they’d be taking me to the clambake bash.
Oliver’s caused quite a stir, however, when it was first proposed, highly objected to by old-time summer denizens. But younger residents were thrilled with the idea to have someplace to go literally in their back yard.
No complaints here on the waterside dining terrace, where it's family friendly
One of those great coastal Maine views
Local liquor magnate Paul Coulombe ( White Rock Distilleries), who lives nearby in an 18,000 square foot oceanfront extravanganza, bankrolled the project. His wealth raised some eyebrows, fearing too much affluence breeds unfortunate destinies as it would pertain to an historic site of this harbor colony. Funny thing about old-money mores, especially in many of Maine’s tonier summer colonies, if you’re not born with the tickets of birth and background, it does help to have a pile of cash for the greater good.
Now a year old, Oliver's has been firmly accepted by most of the summer folk and year-rounders. Cozy Harbor is not easy to get to down miles and miles of winding roads that meander through the island. And when you come to the big white building practically cantilevered over the water, it’s a welcome sight indeed.
We ordered a very simple lunch starting off with a shared dish of BBQ Gulf shrimp perched on the rim of a martini glass with a very tasty horseradish mustard dipping sauce.
An excellent starter of barbecued Gulf shrimp with a mustard-horseradish dipping sauce
For an entrée I chose the fish taco (on so many menus in Maine) and my friend had a salad of grilled scallops. It was all very good, and even nicer to enjoy it sitting on a glorious dining deck overlooking this exquisite harbor setting. It’s well worth going there for lunch or dinner on a day sail or day trip by car for a leisurely well prepared seaside meal at this special spot along the Maine coast.
A tasty version of fish tacos with blackened halibut, homemade salsa, creamy avocado coleslaw and cheese
A salad of grilled scallops with pears, candied walnuts,blue cheese and a homemade puree of pear and fig balsamic
By standards, one of Maine's prettiest harbors
Next stop, Portugal
By 6 PM The Southport Yacht Club was in full swing with their annual clambake, great banks of local lobsters and clams steamed with potatoes, onions and corn.
(Photos by Ted Axelrod)
The crowd gathers for their lobster, coleslaw, corn, potatoes, onions and lots of good cheer
Soft shells pour of the steamer
Summer in Maine, the food festivities begin
John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.
In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.