Thursday, June 20, 2013
By Nancy Heiser
You can't help but marvel at the view as you walk around to the front porch entrance of the Grey Havens Inn, a building on the National Register of Historic Places.
Inside Blue at the Grey Havens Inn, the dining room has dark beadboard walls and a rich wooden bar, ample open floor space, and large windows to take in the gorgeous views.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer
BLUE, at the Grey Havens Inn, 96 Seguinland Road, Georgetown. 371-2616; greyhavens.com
HOURS: Open May to October, 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday (Tuesday to Sunday starting July 17)
CREDIT CARDS: Visa, Mastercard and Discover
PRICE RANGE: Soup from $5; appetizers, $8 to $12; entrees, $19 to $36
BAR: Full. A wide-ranging wine list with Europe and California most represented, $28 to $174, the latter among 10 "premiere pressings" offered. Eighteen wines by the glass, $7 to $12.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes
BOTTOM LINE: The breathtaking scenery from the tables at Blue, the restaurant in the seasonal Grey Havens Inn, is reason alone to visit. You'll also find fresh seafood, locally sourced ingredients, comfortable and elegant furnishings and a hospitable staff. The cuisine is respectable, but doesn't yet rise up to this memorable setting.
Ratings follow this scale and take into consideration food, atmosphere, service and value: *Poor **Fair ***Good ****Excellent *****Extraordinary. The Maine Sunday Telegram visits an establishment twice if the first dining experience was unsatisfactory. The reviewer dines anonymously.
Linger at this elevated spot and soak in fir-lined islands and broad ocean views bordered by manicured lawns and gardens. The building is a classic Maine shingle-style "cottage" (read: mansion) with a picture-postcard view.
Eventually, you'll want to go inside to where your table is waiting. Blue is the restaurant at the inn, serving dinner and breakfast May through October.
New owners have beautifully renovated and updated the turreted inn, which dates to 1904. It opened a year and a half ago.
On the night we visited, the staff was fully committed to our enjoyment. "Kids, your table is ready," the hostess announced as our group (decidedly not kids) finished our drinks in the living room, a light and airy space with a couple of pet birds in residence.
Blue had just hosted a party for a large group, and now was ready for regular diners with reservations.
To the staff's credit, we wouldn't have known the frenzy that preceded us if our waiter hadn't mentioned it, because service was unfailing in all aspects of our dinner, including the timing of dishes from the kitchen.
The dining room has dark beadboard walls and a rich wooden bar, which could give the place a clubby feel if not for ample open floor space and large windows to take in those views. And while the dining room includes white linens, it's not an ultra-formal place. The atmosphere gives a nod to the inn's tradition of hosting visitors for the better part of a century.
Fried goat cheese -- golden, hot and gracefully curved at the edges -- resembled a crispy Twinkie. Dip a spoonful of this into the accompanying stewed figs, and you've got multiple sensory inputs going on -- sweet, tangy, hot, cool, creamy, crisp.
This was an outstanding appetizer and enough for a few people ($10). I only wished for crackers to spread it on. In a pinch, the chef's excellent homemade foccaccia stood in.
A hearty duck and white bean soup ($5), the night's special, was full of meaty strands in a brown stock. The fish chowder, so heaped with seafood and potatoes you could almost stand up a spoon, was satisfying but lacked the deep flavor and creamy richness of rave-worthy versions ($6).
Roasted, then cooled, apple slices, crumbles of local blue cheese and caramelized onions over baby spinach composed a nice salad. I would have preferred a lighter hand with the warm bacon vinaigrette ($8).
We found that a mismatch characterized two of the three entrees we tried. A trio of giant scallops, pan-seared to a pleasing tenderness, were set in a chipotle aioli and mounded with a thick, spicy chimichirri and cilantro sauce ($20). Heat itself isn't a bad thing with seafood, but this treatment overwhelmed it.
A second entree, lobster with pappardelle ($36), was visually exciting, the homemade broad ribbons mingling with spinach, grape tomatoes and large knuckle, claw and tail sections. Somehow, though, the Madeira cream sauce, pasta and seafood did not unify into a delectable whole. As with the scallops, the ingredients seemed out of step with each other.
Braised lamb stew, flavored with allspice and sage and served with well-executed spatzle (a German pasta), delivered what it promised ($22).
These three dishes struck us as good billing for an autumn or winter menu. Two other entrees we didn't try suggested lighter fare for summer: Sesame salmon fillet with orange sections, and baked local white fish stuffed with crabmeat -- a classic.
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