From Blue State Coffee in Providence, where Claire and I are enjoying a couple hours relaxation after an early morning wake-up and drive, here are some reflections on the good food found in New England on our trip.
Sorry Blue State, but the best coffee we found — hands down — was at Bard Coffee in Portland, Maine. (That’s not really fair to Blue State, since neither Claire nor I are actually having coffee here…she’s into a great blueberry smoothie and I’m having a delicious iced tea, so we’ll rate them best smoothies and tea…but I digress.)
We had breakfast at Bard two days in a row and our various cups of coffee and pastries were terrific. Everything is fresh and the staff is incredibly friendly. Plus, when I came in on Thursday, they had Nickel Creek’s The Fox coming out of the speakers, and on Friday, it was Old Crow Medicine Show followed by Alison Krauss and Union Station playing the great Jerry Douglas tune We Hide and Seek. How can you not love a coffee shop with a morning playlist like that! (As another digression, check out the terrific live version of The Fox in the video at the end of this post. It is the version Claire and I saw at Merlefest a few years ago and features a detour into Subterranean Homesick Blues for you Dylan fans.) Finally, in another bit of good news Bard appears to be holding its own against the Starbucks across the street.
We spent part of yesterday in Rockland, Maine and I had the best (well, truthfully, the only) lobster lasagna I’ve ever had at the Rockland Cafe. I’ve been lobbying for a meal at a diner this entire trip, and the cafe was the closest we came. Rockland’s Main Street is pictured in the photo at the top of the post and we had a great time visiting that revitalized commercial area as well as the one in Bath. (Only the state of Maine has problems with naming Main Streets…you’re never sure if you are on Maine Street or Main Street. The problem is compounded in Brunswick, where Maine Street turns into Main Street.)
After walking off our lunch in Rockland, we landed at the Thorndike Creamery where we immediately filled our bellies with some great Gifford’s ice cream. I had the superb Maine Deer Tracks flavor, described on their web site AND by our knowledgeable and chatty server as rich espresso ice cream with crunchy Heath Bar candies and tracks of thick chocolate fudge.
Believe it or not, Candice and I also got a date night to ourselves on this trip, when Andrew and Claire decided they wanted pizza. We sent them off to fend for themselves in the Old Port Historic District in Portland and we had a sumptuous dinner at The Salt Exchange, a “small plates” restaurant also located in the Old Port District.
Finally, for those in the Boston area we took the advice of our friend Mary Lane Jackmin and tried out the Diesel Cafe located on Davis Square in Somerville. The food was great, the decor was fun, and the staff was among the friendliest we encountered during a trip where having a bad wait-staff experience was an anomaly. Their turkey sandwich even gave Amy’s Bakery Arts Cafe in Brattleboro a run for its money!
So, we have one more day before heading home, and Candice has a great restaurant in her sights for this evening. If it is as good as advertised, I’m sure there will be an update. Check back, and remember to take in the amazing Chris Thile in the video below.
More to come…