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Maine Dining by the Water

Maine Dining by the Water
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VIDEO: Annie’s Windjammer Cruise

Cruising Down East on a historic windjammer is a thrilling vacation for certain, but not always a gourmet experience.

Dining aboard the J. & E. Riggin, however–a former oyster dredger that once sailed Delaware Bay and now co-captained by husband and wife Jon Finger and Annie Mahle–is both a scenic journey and a culinary getaway. Captain Jon focuses on smooth sailing, while Captain Annie conjures magic belowdecks.

First the food, then the miracle of it. Most of the ingredients come from local Maine farms (including the co-captains’ own home garden), as well as the waters in which the J. & E. Riggin sails. On our trip we savored a slow-roasted turkey confit with hearty, earthy root vegetables and freshly baked flatbread–a beautiful meal anywhere.

The miracle? Captain Annie and two cooks prepare three meals a day in a galley smaller than most dining-room tables. Exponentially increasing the degree of difficulty (and flavor), they use a cast-iron woodstove–no modern anything. Many meals are served on deck, with the salt air and ever-varying coastal landscape as decor. Captain Jon plays his guitar while Captain Annie sings–perhaps the most elegant ambience we can imagine.
Windjammer Wharf (off Tillson Ave.), Rockland, ME.
800-869-0604, 207-594-1875;

Fishing? Kayaking? Hiking? Photography? Whatever draws you to Moosehead Lake, an elegant, locally sourced five-course meal awaits you, with a great water view from just about every seat in the house.
351 Lily Bay Road, Greenville, ME. 207-695-0224;

Perched above the Cape Neddick River, this spot is a bit like a giant bird’s nest, with a breathtaking view. Superb lobster rolls; plus the gin-and-tonics here may be the best in the nation.
60 Shore Road, Cape Neddick, ME. 207-363-5471;

One of many historic islands in Casco Bay, Great Diamond’s story includes many years as an artists’ refuge as well as a military base (Fort McKinley housed more than 1,000 soldiers during the Spanish-American War). Come for the Continental menu or go native with a lobster bake.
Diamond Ave., Diamond Cove, Great Diamond Island, ME. 207-766-5850;

There’s nothing fancy about this dining room on Casco Bay’s Bailey Island, but the fried eggs taste better here. Could be they’re perfectly cooked, or the briny ocean breeze erases the memory of breakfast anywhere else. Get some pie–they’re made locally by some sort of pie magician.
81 Washington Ave., Bailey Island, ME. 207-833-5461;

Not an easily accessible meal, but that’s half the reward of this island adventure. Three squares from innkeeper Diana Santospago are inspired, fresh, and a delicious lesson in simple, seasonal cooking.
Main Road, Isle au Haut, ME. 207-335-5141;

The view of Jordan Pond and across it to the two “Bubbles” mountains offers plenty of reason to visit, but the popovers with strawberry jam are legendary.
Park Loop Road, Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island, ME. 207-276-3316;

Eastport isn’t the first place we’d think of for a terrific meal, but Gary Craig is making it happen in spades. We also dig the view of our Canadian friends and the sweep of Passamaquoddy Bay.
32 Water St., Eastport, ME. 207-853-2323;

This teenie spot on the Sheepscot River is a “don’t miss” for lobster rolls and hot dogs.
Jct. Main & Water Sts., Wiscasset, ME. 207-882-6128

Follow Route 1 east over a river bridge, then hop off and head down Mitchell Street for shellfish nirvana. Your seat is at a picnic table with an unobstructed view of Belfast Harbor and all the comings and goings. Great on a sunny day; great on a foggy one, too.
4 Mitchell St., Belfast, ME. 207-338-1160

Updated Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

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4 Responses to Maine Dining by the Water

  1. Al Thibodeau April 30, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    My wife and I had the wonderful opportunity of sailing on the J&E Riggin a couple of years ago and everything about the trip was perfect. Annie’s food was incredible, but the peace and quiet was such a break from the normal wild schedule. Need to find a way to get back.

  2. Kim Simmons May 23, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    I would also suggest
    The Boothbay Lobster Wharf at 97 Atlantic Ave. in Boothbay Harbor.
    Spectacular veiws, lobster wharf dining and a Fresh seafood market.

  3. Richard Benz May 31, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

    You can’t beat the Anchor Inn in Round Harbor, Maine. In fact, it it one of the reasons my wife Betsy and I keep coming back to the Pemaquid Penninsula year after year. That and the views and sounds we love while “rocking” by the lighthouse!!

  4. Dan Libby March 5, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    You can’t dine any closer to the water than The Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth: It was also recently featured on The Travel Channel’s Man vs Food:

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