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July 8, 2013

TRAVELIN' MAINE(RS): Windows on the Harbor: Dining room with a view

George and Linda Smith

Windows on the Harbor Restaurant at the Boothbay Harbor Inn is well named. From the large picture windows in front of our table, we could see the entire harbor. Gorgeous!

Linda

For an evening out in Boothbay Harbor you should try Windows On The Harbor restaurant. Located in the Boothbay Harbor Inn, it is about as picturesque a setting as you can imagine. Tables are adorned with white tablecloths and fresh flowers, and one entire side of the room has enormous picture windows facing the harbor. There are Adirondack chairs on the lawn facing the water and a raised fire pit that acts as a beacon in the harbor.

We were staying at The Tugboat Inn, and had a clear view of the Boothbay Harbor Inn from our room, a noticeable presence in the harbor. One of the cool features of the harbor is the footbridge that connects both sides. Using the footbridge instead of driving added to our experience.

Upon entering the restaurant, our attention turned to the beautiful music provided by piano player Kevin Kiley. This pleasant background music continued throughout the evening, greatly adding to the ambiance. So few restaurants seem to have live piano music now. I always appreciate it when one does.

The staff here is friendly and very attentive. You don’t feel rushed at all, and this is a place you will want to linger as you enjoy great food, nice music and incredible views.

As warm, house-made rolls wrapped in a linen cloth arrive at your table, you know you are about to enjoy a great meal. Since I’d been enjoying crab cakes for my last two meals out, I decided to order a cup of the homemade tomato soup. Some things just define perfection, and The Inn’s Soup is one of them. It had crushed tomatoes in a delectable broth and was chock full of fresh basil ribbons. I wish I could make this. All this time, garden-fresh tomatoes and basil could have been put to good use if I had that recipe (hint, hint). It was outstanding.

There are a number of seafood entrées offered here. Choices of baked, broiled, steamed, sautéed or fried will satisfy everyone. Specials of the inn include pot roast, two choices of Alfredo or the Downeast Lobster Bake that includes chowder, clams, two lobsters, potatoes and corn on the cob.

All of these entrées include a salad, making their reasonable prices very reasonable indeed. This is a good-sized salad full of mixed greens and vegetables. My blue cheese dressing must have been made right there. Though the steaks were tempting, I ordered Chicken Medallions for my entrée. The cutlets were sautéed with shallots and fresh mushrooms in a marsala wine demi-glace. Sitting atop nice mashed potatoes, this is comfort food at its best. The portion was enough that I brought half of it home as leftovers.

Now if you don’t have the appetite of the Travelin’ Maine(rs), you will notice a lighter fare menu which does not come with a salad. Items included everything from steamers to chicken skewers to a lobster roll. Windows on the Harbor only serves dinner, so if you are looking for a special way to spend a Maine summer evening, put this one on your list.

George

My dinner at Windows on the Harbor could have started and ended with the Seafood Fra Diavlo, one of the tastiest entrées I’ve had in a long time. But of course, we had to begin this dining adventure with an appetizer, and finish it with dessert — all in the name of giving you, dear readers, a complete accounting of this great restaurant.

OK, this might have happened even if I was not writing about it.

Upon arrival, we got a warm greeting (very much appreciated on this cold rainy evening) from the restaurant’s hostess, who ushered us to one of the dozen or more tables arranged along the wall of huge windows. Noting there were tables out on the lawn, I immediately made plans to return on a warm, sunny evening — a dinner out there would be a very memorable experience.

But we had the view, a warm inviting dining room, attentive servers and — we were pleased to discover — restaurant manager Pat McNamara, a resident of Wayne, close enough to our home in Mount Vernon to be considered a neighbor.

While most of the appetizers, including clam chowder, crab cakes and a seacoast salad were tempting, I opted for something I’d never had: Lobster Fritters. Listed as a “Windows on the Harbor classic made with Maine lobster meat and served with mango salsa,” it sounded interesting. And it was.

But I’ve got to say, it would have been good without the lobster, which got lost in the doughy fritter. The mango salsa was spicy and delicious. In Maine, where lobster is a “must-have” for tourists, restaurants have to get creative with this crustacean and the fritter was certainly creative. I’ll bet they sell a lot of them. For me, I’ll continue to prefer my lobster plain, with a ton of melted butter. Of course, that’s generally how I like all of my seafood, unadorned and simply presented.

At least that’s what I thought until my Seafood Fra Diavlo arrived, described as large shrimp, scallops, haddock, sautéed in a zesty tomato sauce and served over linguini. Their term “zesty” did not do the sauce justice. But I don’t mean the sauce was hot — it was incredibly flavorful. I looked to Lin for help in describing this dish, and all she could offer was, “We need new adjectives.”

The Diavlo’s linguini was perfectly cooked, and the dish was loaded with shrimp, scallops and haddock, and was very attractively presented. The bowl was nearly licked clean when I finished.
Traditional desserts are offered including blueberry pie and cheesecake, but we were more than full, so we opted to share of cup of coffee ice cream from Round Top in nearby Damariscotta.

Our server, Angela, a resident of Pittston who once worked at the Senator Inn and Spa in Augusta, was very knowledgeable and helpful throughout the evening, as was Pat McNamara, who spent time talking with guests at many tables, including a group from England at the table next to us. Not surprisingly, all around us, lobster was being served.

While you may fear that, in such a splendid white-tablecloth, gorgeous-view- restaurant tourist mecca, prices would be exorbitant. Not here. You could have a glass of wine, salad and entrée for less than $30. There is no charge for the view!

Visit George’s website: www.george
smithmaine.com for travel tips, book reviews, outdoor news and more.





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