Erica’s Seafood is a seasonal shack on Basin Point in Harpswell, near Dolphin Marina. Photo by Leslie Bridgers

There have been more than a few days this summer on which living without air conditioning in southern Maine has been pretty brutal, but I discovered that I can shed about 10 degrees just by heading up the coast.

And seeking out a seafood shack while I’m there can make a desperate escape from the heat feel like an intentional summer adventure.

With its peninsulas and islands, and relative proximity to Portland, Harpswell is an ideal destination for a quick cool down, and there are plenty of tucked-away lunch spots to try. One of them is Erica’s Seafood, on Basin Point right next to the Dolphin Marina.

My visit, I learned later, coincided with the annual Harpswell Lobster Boat Races, which may have accounted for the cheerfully rowdy lunch crowd. Regardless, the line at the shack wasn’t too long and moved quickly.

I was pleasantly surprised when I got in sight of the menu to see that Erica’s would provide relief not only from the heat but also from the season’s exorbitant lobster roll prices, its market price a reasonable $25.

The shack itself was roped off at the stairs, and instead of me stepping up to the window, an employee took my order from the line and told me someone would deliver my food to me wherever I settled, when I also could pay – with cash only.


With imaginary money left over from my lobster roll budget, I added a cup of seafood chowder ($11.50) and side of coleslaw ($3.50) to my order and found a lone picnic table down by the pier. Most tables are perched on a grassy hill, and some people opted to sit on large rocks, either in the gravel patio or by the shore. As I left, I saw a few people tailgating in camp chairs in the parking lot.

After retrieving cash from the ATM in a nearby shed, I grabbed a soda from the vending machine and checked out the live lobster tank, where signs indicated that previously you could have gotten them steamed to go, but not this year.

A lobster roll, cup of seafood chowder and cole slaw from Erica’s Seafood in Harpswell. Photo by Leslie Bridgers

As promised, within 20-30 minutes a server arrived at my table with my order in to-go boxes. Although the lobster roll looked small, it was packed with meat, and any mayonnaise holding it together was barely detectable, allowing the fresh seafood to shine.

There was more lobster in the chowder, along with what seemed like every other kind of seafood that appeared on the menu. The broth was thin and flavorful with that oily orange sheen that I always like to see. And the cole slaw – which, like with chowder, I am picky about – was also some of the best I’ve had, with green and red cabbage, carrots, red onion and just the right amount of mayo.

Enjoying my lunch while watching boats come and go from the marina, I forgot about the heat in Portland and the cost of the gas to get down Harpswell Neck. All told, it probably would have been cheaper just to buy a window AC unit, but nowhere near as pleasant.

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