November 12, 2013

Dine Out Maine: Cape not overrun with fine dining options, but Sea Glass is one

The Cape Elizabeth restaurant offers stylish seaside dining.

By John Golden

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

The food is good and the view striking at Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

SEA GLASS AT INN BY THE SEA

***

WHERE: 40 Bowery Beach Road (Route 77), Cape Elizabeth. 799-3134

HOURS: Breakfast 7 to 11 a.m. Monday to Friday; lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday; dinner 5:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; brunch 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; lounge 4 to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday to Sunday

CREDIT CARDS: Yes

PRICE RANGE: Most first courses $6 to $13, entrees $18 to $28, desserts $9

VEGETARIAN: Yes (a few choices)

GLUTEN-FREE: Yes (a few choices)

KIDS: Yes, welcome

PETS: Allowed in lounge and outdoor dining deck

RESERVATIONS: Yes

BAR: Full-service and bar menu

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

BOTTOM LINE: For stylish seaside dining in one of Maine’s premier inn resorts, Sea Glass offers a menu of admirable dishes that are well prepared. The wine list is extensive and offers superb choices in all price ranges. Best dishes include gaucho steak, mushroom tart, roast chicken under a brick and any of the desserts by pastry chef Karen Voter.

Ratings follow this scale and takeinto consideration food, atmosphere, service and value: H Poor HH Fair HHH Good HHHH Excellent HHHHH Extraordinary. The Maine Sunday Telegram visits an establishment twice if the first dining experience was unsatisfactory. The reviewer dines anonymously.

But you can’t equate a few dishes as the whole sum of its parts. And since I was there to assess its current state of affairs, here’s how our dinner unfolded.

For my first course I chose a cup of lobster bisque ($7 or $11 for a bowl). I think it’s a good test dish to judge how a Maine chef handles a regional staple. Other choices like pan roasted mussels ($11) and ricotta gnocchi in a roasted mushroom pan sauce ($11) are worthy dishes that I’ve had on prior visits.

The bisque was spiked with extra virgin olive oil, creating pools of oil floating over the broth in a striking visual. It’s not my favorite style for this core Maine soup. I much prefer a classic creamy lobster base fortified with butter, cream and sherry.

For a first course my dinner guest ordered the gorgonzola-

stuffed baked dates ($13) served over arugula. Unfortunately she wasn’t crazy about the dish, likening it to “candy out of a box.” Since I have a sweet tooth I didn’t mind it one bit, even if it wouldn’t play well in a gourmand’s stomping grounds.

There were a few special entrees that evening, which our very capable waitress explained clearly. I chose the pork three ways. These “trio” preparations are still popular amongst chefs. For me they’re as old-hat as tuna tartare or flourless chocolate cake.

This rendition was a fairly imaginative assemblage, though, of contrasting flavors. The grilled medallion of tenderloin – not as tender as it should have been – sat on a sweet potato puree splashed with a red-wine reduction; alongside were deep-fried pork belly over shaved Brussels sprouts, and pulled pork with chipotle and orange zest resting on a pita round. I liked it well enough, but it was hardly riveting.

My guest had pan-roasted salmon ($25) over a hash of baked winter squash and bacon, fried Brussels sprouts with a pine nut relish and Sangria gastrique. The fish was moist and flakey and made a pleasingly tasty dish.

For dessert we shared a pair of ice cream sandwiches. These were a highlight of the meal. Intense peanut butter ice cream was sandwiched between chocolate cookies (gluten-free) with a side serving of freshly roasted salted peanuts. We polished these off easily, leaving us well fortified for the drive back to town.

John Golden, who lives in Portland, writes about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for local and national publications. He can be reached at:

jdgmaine@gmail.com

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