Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Bar Harbor, Maine - 2 Cats and Epi Subs

[Mica]

Well, we went to Bar Harbor, Maine this past weekend. We were up on business, in a weird sort of way. Anyhow, we had dinner the first night at the Epi. This is a sub shop/pizza joint in downtown Bar Harbor, down on Cottage Street, almost at the corner of Cottage and Main. It's been there for quite a while, at least from the mid-80s. I've been going there since then, at any rate.

We both had Epi Specials. These are italian sandwiches with the usual Maine italian cold cuts and veggies. However, the secret to the Epi Special is the sweet sauce. You have to ask for sweet sauce, it's yummy.

The place changes hands recently, and I find that they are using way too many veggies now, but while the sub is messier to eat, it's still good. Overall, I'd give the Epi a 7 out of 10 for food.

[Zoe]

Just a warning to anyone going to Epi and expecting a "real" italian: Epi serves "Maine Italians." One difference is that a Maine Italian is an italian sandwich with the coldcuts, cheese, and veggies more on top of the bread instead of inside it. I prefer Boston or New York Italian sandwiches to Maine Italian sandwiches, but for Maine Italians, Epis are pretty good. I'd give Epi a 6 of 10, detracting mostly for the fact that all the veggies fall off when you take the first bite.

[Mica]

The next morning we breakfasted at 2 Cats on Cottage Street. It's a little funky bed and breakfast place. It offers great coffee (fancy coffee, along with regular joe), and handsqueezed OJ. We've been going there for years. They also do lunch & dinner, as well.

[Zoe]

I ordered the salmon, cream cheese, and caper omelette. The omelette comes with home fries and the famous biscuit with strawberry butter. The omelette was perfect - the eggs were neither under nor overcooked and were just the right mix of fluffy and firm. The cream cheese was perfectly melted onto the smoked salmon, and there were the right amount of capers - not so many to overwhelm the cream cheese and salmon but enough to complement the smoked salmon flavor. The home fries were also excellent. They were spicy but not hot - very flavorful. The potatoes were fresh and not overfried. In short, excellent.

[Mica]

And my breakfast was the Ho Hum - two eggs prepped the way you like them, spicy home fries (not hot, though!), and a biscuit with strawberry butter. Zoe didn't fill you in on the biscuits. Let me elaborate.

They are incredible. They are very large, and flaky, and yummy. Probably the world's most perfect biscuit. They are better than Grandma's and she had damn good biscuits. The butter is the best complement to them - whipped strawberry flavored butter. These are God's biscuits.

I'd give 2 Cats a 9 out of 10 for food, and a 6 out of 10 for decor/surroundings (small tables, tough to get around).

[Zoe]

I'd give 2 Cats a perfect 10 for food - and for atmosphere, I'd give it an 8. In short, if you're staying in Bar Harbor, you shouldn't miss 2 Cats for breakfast.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Caribou Trip (2): The Governor's and the Greenhouse, redux

[Mica]
Sunday lunch was at The Governor's in Presque Isle. I had a Baldacci burger, with swiss cheese, onions, mushrooms, etc. Zoe had a King burger - can't remember what was on that. We both had onion rings. Onion rings are a very good marker of a burger joint. The ones at Governor's were batter-fried and very nice & flaky. Not that breaded crumb crap you get at Denny's. The Governor's rings are very nice. :-) The burgers were average - not bad - I liked the roll.

[Zoe]
I had an Angus burger, which was supposed to be with bacon and blue cheese dressing, plus tomato and onion. They forgot the blue cheese dressing, and I had ordered the burger medium rare, but it came well done. I wasn't too impressed with the burger. The onion rings, however, were excellent.

[Mica]
Dessert at this place is something else entirely. In fact, it's worth going to the joint just for dessert! We both took dessert home (a trick we learned a long time ago). I had strawberry shortcake, and even a few hours later (think about 8 or so) it was very good! Zoe will fill you in on her dessert, I'm sure.

[Zoe]
I had coconut cream pie. The crust was perfectly flaky and not soggy at all. The filling had just the right proportion of custard to coconut. Excellent.

[Mica]
Sunday dinner was back at the Greenhouse Restaurant. I had Surf and Turf - a small steak with fried clams. This was a bit disappointing, I have to admit. First off - the rolls were obviously frozen & then warmed up - while they were the same rolls as the previous dinner, I guess the lackluster performance of my entree didn't make up for them. The steak was fine, not great, but fine. The clams were breaded (see above re: breaded frying), and I might have thought they were high class clam strips - not very good clams. What do you want for being inland? The native mashed pototoes were, however, incredible. Very tasty.

The drinks were also about average. We both ordered Singapore Slings, and I didn't think we got slung enough. Hawiaan Punch mixed with booze isn't my idea of tasty. Alright, I guess.

[Zoe]
My lobster roll was also fine, not great. If I want a great lobster roll, though, I would get one home in Portland, not up north in Caribou. However, I had mashed potatoes with gravy on the side. The potatoes were creamy, buttery, and wonderful. The gravy was homemade poultry gravy. They may have been the best mashed potatoes I have ever had.

[Mica]
Monday morning we had breakfast back down at the Greenhouse Restaurant, and it was fine. About the same as before. Under $15 with tip is my idea of a breakfast.

Lunch was at the Taco Bell on Wilson Street in Brewer on the way back to Portland. Adequate - it was nice to get outside the bun. :-)

Wrap up: I think that the Greenhouse Restaurant breakfasts get a 4 out of 10 overall. Their dinners get a combined score of 7 out of 10 - would have been 9 if not for the Surf and Turf.

Governor's gets a 6 out of 10 just for their onion rings and dessert! Forget the hamburger.

[Zoe]
I would give the breakfasts a five out of ten, and Governor's also a five out of ten. The Greenhouse Restaurant's dinner, however, gets an eight of ten from me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Caribou, Maine: The Greenhouse Restaurant and the Caribou Inn and Convention Center

[Mica]
Caribou. No, we didn't eat one. We went to a town called Caribou. It's way up north, in the hinterlands of our fair Vacationland. We went up on Saturday, spent all day Sunday, and came back Monday. Had a blast. We stayed at the Caribou Inn & Convention Center, in a suite. It was just fine, except for the spotty and expensive Internet service.

[Zoe]
I thought the room was quite nice, but I would agree, the internet service was awful and would be enough to keep me away if I needed internet access during the trip. The Inn charges $10/night and claims it is "wireless" - what it really is is a wireless router that is plugged into power and then wired via ethernet to your computer. Also, it is not "high-speed Road Runner service" - it is 10 mbps, which is wireless speed.

[Mica]
Foodwise, it was pretty darn good. Zoe & I are still hammering out our rating system, more on that later. No images this time, as we didn't bring Zoe's little cell phone camera thingy. I'd say the value overall was great for the money.

Saturday, upon arriving in the 'Bou, we ran around nailing down fishing spots. This left us pretty hungry. We collapsed at the Greenhouse Restaurant, which is part of the Convention Center. While I thought the decor was a bit trite and tacky as all get out, I was surprised at the food. It was pretty good, and a bit avant garde!

[Zoe]
The food was absolutely incredible. Whether we stay there or not in the future, I would eat there again.

[Mica]
We started with drinks, Zoe had a frozen Mudslide and I had a Capt. & Coke. My drink was on the weak side - then again, I'm used to 9 oz Bombay Sapphires with "vermouth" whispered over the top, so just about anything short of jet fuel is weak for me. We split an appetizer - The Outback Combo ($7.99). Ostrich and kangaroo grilled on a skewer - it was very tasty. While I'm not a fan of strange, exotic meat, it wasn't bad at all. Zoe is much more of a fan of strange food, and she seemed to like it quite a bit. The plating was also very interesting.

[Zoe]
I'll confess to you now - I'm not a big fan of frozen drinks. At all. The Outback Combo was ostrich and kangaroo alternated on a skewer with onion (ostrich side, I think) and green pepper (kangaroo side). The skewer was plated with chopped green and red onion and decorative sauces. Excellent presentation. The meat was grilled to perfection - not tough at all, and not underdone.

[Mica]
The entrees were also quite good. We both had specials - Zoe had Brandy Apple Pork Chop and I had Adam's Rib (grilled thinly sliced prime rib smothered with bleu cheese, mushrooms and onions). I can't remember exactly how much each cost (will pay more attention next time), but I would say they were each less than $16.00. Very tasty. I had a baked potato on the side (naturally, as I was in Tater Country), and it was elegant - done to perfection. This is an inside joke for me, as my family is famous for being picky about baked potatoes. Zoe had rice (I think) on the side, and she seemed to think her meal was very good, also.

[Zoe]
My pork chop was grilled in a brandy glaze and served with a brandy and apple reduction on the side. The dish was also served with fresh veggies (zucchini, perhaps spinach, and squash) and with wild rice. The wild rice may have come out of an Uncle Bens box, but was still good. The pork chop was excellent.

[Mica]
We brought dessert back with us - I had a Chocolate Confusion slice of pie (pretty average, I'd say), and I don't think Zoe had dessert - she was too stuffed. That's what you get when you're small - you fill up easily. :) The waitstaff was friendly, and we enjoyed our reasonably priced meal.

Sunday morning we also went to the Greenhouse Restaurant for breakfast - overall the price was very good for what we got. The hash browns were great (native new potatoes), and other than that it was standard breakfast fare. The price was very good - less than $15.00 for both of us for big breakfasts.

[Zoe]
I didn't care for the hash browns, but I am notoriously picky about hash browns. They tasted frozen to me - kind of tough on the outside and with that "frozen potato" kind of hard crust. Other than that, breakfast was average. Not great, not bad. It was a Bar Harbor tourist restaurant kind of breakfast.