George

On Saturday morning with a nearly full house at the Brooklin Inn, an accident up on U.S. Route 1 knocked out power to the entire peninsula from Penobscot to Stonington. But inn owner Chip Angell took it in stride, setting out juice, milk, cereal and coffee, which he’d kept hot in a carafe, for our breakfast. The power was out nearly four hours, but it didn’t matter to us because we were off right after breakfast, exploring this beautiful section of Maine.

The eight rooms at the inn are small but comfortable. Some share a bathroom. The drive from Blue Hill down to Brooklin is stunning, all along the ocean, and you will find ocean views and access throughout the town. As we entered Brooklin, we saw a sign noting it is “the wooden boat-building capital of the world.” And it seemed to us that every quarter-mile there was a boat builder.

Two new chefs, Will and Gary, continue the tradition of fine food at the inn. The dining room is gorgeous, but the downstairs pub draws both regulars and tourists for great beer and pub food. You can also get the pub food upstairs in the dining room, where an impressive wine list kept me busy for a while after we were seated by Sharon, the hostess and server here. She’s a fourth-grade teacher and, even though she was very busy, took time to get acquainted with us and help us with the menu.

Just after we were seated, I heard someone ask Sharon if there were any specials that night. She responded, with a smile, “We don’t have a specials list because everything is special.” And boy, she got that right! Chip handles the drink orders and I heard him explain his wines in detail to a couple at a nearby table, including what valley in Italy their chosen wine came from. We enjoyed one of our favorites, Ruffino Chianti, from a Tuscan winery we have visited.

Before we ordered, I heard the lady at the next table tell her husband, “Oh boy! That’s good! It’s perfectly cooked. Maybe we’ll eat here every night.” It was very encouraging indeed as I pondered what to order.

Given how much I love mussels, I started with those ($12.50), partly because they came from Lubec, where my mom grew up and my great-grandfather was the lighthouse keeper for 32 years. Lubec never disappoints me, nor did the mussels. They were steamed in cream with Dijon mustard. I put each mussel into a spoon and scooped up some sauce, and the taste was heavenly. When I picked up the dish to set it aside for Sharon, Linda was worried that I was going to tip it up and drink the rest of the sauce. No need to worry, because there was no sauce left in the bowl.

My entree of seared scallops ($32) was also wonderful, perfectly seared on the outside and rare on the inside. The risotto that accompanied the scallops was delicious and creatively topped with beet slices.

While Linda initially forbade dessert, Sharon talked us (OK, me) into it when she said a world traveler told her their creme brulee was in the top four of all those he’d enjoyed all over the world. And it was very tasty, smoky on top and very soft inside. It comes in a deep dish because Chip said he didn’t want your spoon to hit the bottom of the dish on your first dip. And it didn’t.

Before we left, several guests had stopped to visit with us, and nearly everyone in the restaurant sang “Happy Birthday to You” to one guest. It’s that kind of place.

Linda

Last year was our first trip to the Deer Isle peninsula. We were hooked and couldn’t wait to explore a little more. We headed south of Blue Hill for a beautiful drive along the ocean. The inn’s pub was filling up quickly as we arrived around 5:30 p.m. We settled into our upstairs room and decided to take a short stroll before dinner.

The restaurant’s dining room is lovely — white tablecloths, chandeliers and lots of artwork. But it was the porch seating that was filling up fast on the warm evening we were there. Sharon was covering the whole restaurant that night and remained cheery even though she was extremely busy.

I started with the warm potato carrot soup, and its velvety smooth texture was elegant. The menu listed 10 farms that supply fresh ingredients for the restaurant. You could taste the freshness in that soup.

Will, the new executive chef, had just added three new items to the menu, so it was a tough choice between the main courses and the pub fare for me. I chose the bangers and mash from the pub fare. A nice serving of Irish sausages, braised cabbage, baby carrots and potatoes arrived, and I thought, “That’s a perfect serving size.” But you know, I still couldn’t finish it all, even though it was delicious. The sausages were grilled yet very tender and the rustic mashed potatoes were amazing. The magic of this dish came from the Dijon onion gravy sauce.

There are many land conservation areas here with a choice of hiking trails, charming small villages to explore and 112 miles of coastline on the peninsula. Put this on your list for next summer, or visit the Brooklin Inn this winter.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed in the “Best of Maine” section.