We have been living life in the slow lane this past week. The plan is to go back to Northport on Monday.
We had a few inches of snow when we got here, and have had a couple mornings of flurries:
But the snow is almost all gone by today, since it has warmed up and rained.
Last night we went back to the Coplin Dinner House. The food was just as good! Here is the view of our place as we pulled out of the driveway – it is only 5pm, and you can see how dark it is.
And, the reason you all visit the blog – here is what we had to eat. Lou started with tuna, followed up with lobster bisque (the usuals), and completed his meal with a new item – schnitzel. It was all delicious, according to Lou.
I started with a salad, and chose the chicken saltimboca for my main course. The chicken was very good, and aI had leftovers for lunch.
Thank you for all of the nice Anniversary wishes. Reporting in on our dinner last night at Coplin Dinner House in Stratton. It was exceptional. So far, we have only had one meal that didn’t meet expectations in our six visits. Dinner was so good, we are going back this coming Thursday. Still time to fly in and join us!
Lou changed it up. He started with oysters, then had the veal chop. He said both were delicious.
They did not have halibut on the menu, so I tried something different. Two appetizers – both were delicious, and this was plenty of food for me. The butter sauce from the mushroom pasta dish was also perfect with a delicious piece of fresh-baked bread. I did limit myself to just one piece 😉
And just to top it all off, Lou made fresh scones to start this morning off:
Catherine has been suffering from a cold during her visit, but she felt good enough to get out today for a walk. It is always fun to see things from another point of view.
Catherine decided we needed some decorations on the porch. Uh oh, live flowers. You know how well I do with those. And it looks like Catherine captured a ghost already checking out the pumpkins on the porch.
And lastly, a nice leaf movie:
Catherine also enjoyed a simple lunch:
Thanks, Catherine, for sharing part of your day with us.
Our social calendar has been busier than usual. We went out to dinner with Bernadette and Jim on Friday evening. Bernadette was our general practitioner until she retired earlier this year. Jim is also retired, and he was previously a neurologist at Waldo County General Hospital. They have a place in Florida, but plan to spend 6 months of the year in Maine.
Anyway, on to the food story. We decided to try the Hartstone Inn in Camden. They have been one of our favorites, but we haven’t dined there in over a year. We had a nice evening catching up with Bernadette and Jim, but the food was disappointing. The Hartstone is known for excellence, and we have never had a bad meal. It is a very small restaurant, and it can get noisy, but the quality of the food has never been in question.
They have two options on the menu – a 3 course meal, or a 5 course Chef’s Tasting. Lou chose the tasting, as it had two of his favorites – lamb chops and duck breast. The rest of us went with the 3 course option, choosing the salad and haddock. For dessert, Lou and I picked the Grand Marnier Soufflé.
Lou started the meal with a carrot soup. He said this was very good:
The salad was just “okay,” not that I was expecting anything special, but then again, how often do you get fuzzy udder cheese?
Lou’s lamb chops came next … he didn’t say anything, but told me later they were terrible.
The haddock main course did not impress. I prefer halibut, but haddock is okay. This just tasted very weird to me, maybe it was all the flavors combined. Not a fan. Bernadette and Jim also ordered this and didn’t complain, but everyone was perhaps being polite.
Lou was served a couple of palate cleansers between courses, including berry-infused mineral water and a blueberry sorbet. His second main course arrived … the duck breast. He said this was bland, and really needed some type of sauce to go with the gristle:
The Grand Marnier Soufflés came out and they were fine. I only ate a small portion of mine since I was full. Bernadette and Jim ordered the Trio of Sorbets for dessert. I did not get a photo, as I could tell they were a tad puzzled as to why I was taking pictures of the food 📸 🥗📸🍗📸🍨
Lou treated us all to dinner, and while our guests objected, Lou explained we wanted to show our appreciation to Bernadette for putting up with us all those years, and it was a pleasure meeting Jim as well. Even though the food was less than exceptional, and the noise level in the restaurant made conversation difficult as more people crowded in, we still had a very nice evening. Once again, it shows good food can enhance the dining experience, but good company is the most important ingredient.
While gathering the details for this blog post (what, you think I just make this stuff up?), I saw something that struck me as odd. This was the lead notice on the menu page:
Chef Brian Granims? I don’t’ think this is the same Chef they have always had. Digging deeper (I take my job seriously!), I found this:
…we proudly welcome Brian Granims, our Chef de Cuisine of over six years alongside Executive Chef Michael Salmon and is now Head Chef of the restaurant!
From the Hartstone Inn Blog
Let’s hope this was just an off night. Our recent experiences at other local restaurants have shown us we need to give our favorites a second try. I will say, I am not inclined to go back to the Hartstone Inn any time soon, and I think Lou agrees. It is almost a 30 minute drive, the service was slow, the restaurant ambience declines as the decibel levels rise, and the food just didn’t cut it this time.
In the spirit of full disclosure, we were very upset with the Hartstone Inn last year. After patronizing them as locals for almost 10 years, we were told last summer that they only took dinner reservations for people staying at the Inn. We could have our name placed on a waitlist (friends chose that option and never heard back). They obviously changed their tune and the website now says they welcome outside reservations. So we put aside last year’s annoyance to try again, and it truly did not influence the review which I have just shared.
You are probably thinking this must be the end of the saga; how long can she drag out one dinner review? We aren’t quite done …
Curiosity got the best of me. If our experience was disappointing, what have others said? Overall reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp still look quite positive, but I read the individual reviews and found some unhappy ones, more than their previous excellence deserves. To be fair, there are still people raving about the place, and our friends had a nice meal there a couple of months ago. I did uncover another piece of the puzzle while reading reviews – the Hartstone Inn was sold in September of 2021! Mystery solved! While we wish the new owners well, the Hartstone will come off our favorites list.
Thanks for following along. We love a good mystery, preferably ones with a happier ending. A reminder of better times at The Hartstone:
You may remember our last visit to The Coplin Dinner House. It was Lou’s birthday dinner, and things did not go well; he got served prime rib instead of lamb chops, and I didn’t care for my steak. Delighted to report last night’s meal was back to the excellence we experienced on our first few visits.
Lou started with the Tuna Poke Tower – he seemed to like it a lot, and it disappeared in about 30 seconds.
I always have a salad to start with, but picked the Fresh Warm Burrata, mainly because I wanted a new photographic subject. Oh boy, this was to die for. Too much food for one, but it was very tasty. I expected it to be more like a bruschetta, but it was served as a big ball of burrata, with squished tomatoes, pesto, and a balsamic-honey glaze.
I was already full after just eating half, but I had time to rest and catch my second wind as Lou enjoyed his Lobster Bisque:
Next came Lou’s Rack of Lamb, and my Halibut. Both were excellent.
Neither one of us cared for the side of zucchini in a light tomato sauce, but that is a very minor quibble.
Neither of us had saved room for dessert, although Lou did sample the Gifford’s German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream once we got home and convinced the dogs we had not abandoned them. It was a nice evening out, and I have my burrata appetizer for lunch (fortunately, there was no glucose spike with this, probably because the cheese and oils overwhelmed the carbs from the small pieces of bread).
Tom pointed out most of our conversations centered around food (that is what happens when politics are a discouraged discussion topic). In between talking about great meals we have experienced, and good food we hope to enjoy, Tom and Karen have been exploring Maine. Lou had a doctor’s appointment in Bangor on Tuesday, and got a good report, as well as some strategies to reduce ongoing pain issues.
On Monday evening, we dined at the Whale’s Tooth Pub in Lincolnville. This was our first visit since the restaurant changed hands last year. We had heard mixed reviews. Happy to report, we all enjoyed our meals, and happy to see some of the wait staff remains. Tom had, no surprise, lobster. The rest of us had fish and chips – delicious!
Last night was Aster & Rose at the Youngtown Inn. We had a pleasant evening, nice ambiance and good company. Our food, for the most part, did not live up to expectations. Lou had the duck rillette appetizer, and said it was good. When asked just now if he liked it, he emphatically said, “It was excellent, and I would have it again in a minute. It was served properly with toast points.” OK, sounds like he enjoyed it.
Karen & Tom both ordered the chicken liver pâté, but it was overdone with blueberries, and not too flavorful.
I stuck with the Local Greens Salad. It was not as tasty as the previous times I’ve had it, but it served it’s purpose – a green starter before dinner definitely cuts down the glucose spiking:
Tom chose the pasta with lobster (of course), and mussels and stuff. It is called Squid Ink Cavatelli. It was rather bland:
Karen and I both went for the Fettuccine Bolognese. I had heard rave reviews about this dish. Not tonight, folks. It was just “OK,” not flavorful at all as one would expect from a pork and beef bolognese.
Lou ordered the Braised Short Ribs – they received an “OK” rating. Probably not something he would order in the next minute, like the Duck Rillete.
There you have it. A nice meal and good company at the Whale’s Tooth Pub. A pleasant evening out at the Youngtown Inn, even though the food was not as good as usual. We will go back to both restaurants again. The Whale’s Tooth was a pleasant reconnection, and Aster & Rose may have just had an off night.
We are all heading up to the mountains tomorrow. The Coplin Springs Dinner House is on the menu for Saturday night. Fingers Crossed it is back to it’s previous excellence. See, our time together really does revolve around food.