The unofficial "end of summer" arrived this past weekend, and to commemorate it (because really who celebrates that?) J and I decided to head up to Ogunquit, ME one of the days as he had never been there before. Ogunquit was my childhood beach town when I was little- most weekends in the summer my family and I would pack up the car bright and early in the morning, and head up to this beautiful little artists community to spend the day basking in the sun. I should say- my family basked- I reapplied sunscreen every two minutes. And then, halfway through the day we would pull out the sandwiches we had packed, and chomp on cold cuts dotted with sand- because, of course, sand gets everywhere, and lots of fresh fruit. There is something comforting about these meals to remember-the smell of sunscreen mixed with the salt water, the hum of the seagulls over head... I of course thought that everyone should be able to share in this great memory, so Sunday J and I got in the car (with me driving!) and shot up to Ogunquit.
Now, Fall arrived here on the east coast with a vengeance this weekend, and Sunday topped out only around 65 degrees. A bit too chilly for sun basking in my opinion. So instead we took to walking around the town, popping into stores and restaurants and taking in the other side of Ogunquit. Finally, finding it was time for a good solid meal, we headed over to the area of town known as Perkins Cove and headed for MC Perkins Cove. Opening a few years ago, MC Perkins Cove has won a name for themselves as an American Bistro, touted many times over as one of the best restaurants in the area. I had been earlier this summer for lunch, and had been absolutely blown away by the incredible views of the cove. Its walls of windows looks out on one of the most spectacular ocean views, and its food and service had been delightful as well. I was excited to return.
The whole town had been incredibly busy all day with many people out and about enjoying those last few moments of Summer, so without making reservations I fully anticipated eating at the bar. On a whim, I approached the hostess and asked if there were any possible tables available- what luck- an immediate table was available. We took it and were sat with our menus, and offered water. We began to peruse the menus, and then chatted, and then perused some more, and formulated questions, and enjoyed the view, and chatted again before our waiter ever appeared at our table. When he did, it was apparent that he wanted to take our orders immediately, and that the time for dilly dallying was over. I asked my questions, and we placed our full order at his request. Mussels to start, plank roasted Haddock for my main, and Lobster Mac and Cheese for J.
To start bread was served, honestly delicious dense white bread that in some respects reminded me of corn bread. It was lovely. The Mussels arrived shortly after. The first time I had been to MC Perkins Cove I had also gotten the mussels and had enjoyed them- a thick pureed tomato base, spiced with garlic, and Linguica, chock full of good Mussels, and accented with cheesy bread. The Mussels served were full and delicious, with barely any closed or broken shells, and lots of Linguica added in. As its a sausage that I am not 100% familiar with, Linguica is a Portuguese based pork sausage, with garlic, onions and paprika often added. These were a nice addition- not as spicy as say a Chorizo but full of flavor, and the pork fat added a nice richness to the sauce. Also-the table bread was a delicious "soaking vehicle" for it. Here, again, we ran into a service blip. J left the table for a moment, and the servers pounced assuming that we were done with the dish. As it was-I think I was actually mid picking up a Mussel when they arrived, and so told them that no- we were not yet done. Some minutes passed, and the waiter and busboys continued to circle around the table, asking if we had finished the Mussels two more times, until I felt so uncomfortable that I let them clear the table. Finally, J returned, looked a little sad that the mussels had disappeared. But luckily, our meals arrived shortly thereafter.
J's was served was a half Lobster perched on top of a full crock of macaroni mixed with cheddar cheese and huge pieces of beautiful lobster meat. It was a gorgeous dish. Mine was served, an ample piece of Haddock sitting atop its cooking plank, on a huge, really huge, white plate decorated with herbs and a small portion of Jasmine rice. The dish was supposed to be served with a side of what was called Mom's sauce, a combination of many ingredients of which I can only remember horseradish, soy sauce, and perhaps Worcestershire? As the case may be- I was excited to try it, but my plate was served sauce less. I requested it from the server, but he was not aware of the sauce, and then asked the waiter. The waiter, who had originally told me about the sauce seemed completely confused by the question- finally he understood though and fetched the correct sauce. The fish had beautiful flavor to it though it was rather over cooked, the sauce was a really interesting combination of flavors with a good kick to it, and the rice was perfect. J's was incredibly delicious. The lobster shell still had tons of meat in it that he was able to get to once they finally brought out the claw cracker, and the Mac and Cheese itself had really nice flavor and texture with perfectly cooked sweet lobster. It was a really decadent dish.
By that point we were much too stuffed for dessert so we politely declined and instead took our drinks to the upstairs bar to enjoy the view more, and to vacate the table.
This meal was a big disappointment for me. I really enjoyed MC Perkins Cove on my first visit, with its serene setting, and deliciously fresh seafood. This visit however was the polar opposite. The word I kept using to describe it was "manic" as all staff hurried around the dining room without any real goals it seemed. This may have been slightly understandable if they had been packed, but as we finished up there were plenty of tables available for new diners. It appeared though that the back of the house was just as stressed though, as my meal was definitely over cooked, and the table next to us actually had to send back their steaks as they were also over cooked. I hate to say that this ruined MC Perkins Cove for me, but I would be more willing to try any other restaurant in that area than this one again...despite their amazing views, and creative offerings.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
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