We were in Belfast recently for our grandson Addi’s champion basketball game. As we were leaving the game, we started the conversation of where to go for lunch. We were staying in Rockland that weekend, so there were lots of amazing lunch spots to choose from.
It was a little early to eat, but I lobbied for Chase’s Daily, because that is the first thing I think of when Belfast is mentioned. Yes, the food there really is that good. It didn’t take long to sway George to my way of thinking.
That day’s menu offered Beer and Cheddar Cheese Soup, and that sounded so good on a freezing cold day. I ordered a large bowl knowing that George would certainly want some. Holy Moly, that soup was incredible! It was nice and creamy and delivered a lovely note of beer flavor. It came with grilled bread which was also great because they bake their breads right there.
George couldn’t remember which sandwich he had here on our last visit, but we both remembered it had a kick of heat. Our server steered us toward the Bahn Mi. One bite and we knew this was indeed the dish we remembered.
Now I couldn’t quite believe it when George asked me what the meat was in the sandwich. Chase’s Daily is a vegetarian restaurant, and he’d forgotten. This alone is testament to what incredibly delicious food they create.
So I asked for a second bowl and shared my soup while he gave me half of his sandwich. We were both very happy.
We love any excuse to get to Long Grain Restaurant in Camden, our favorite Maine Thai restaurant. So how lucky are we that grandson Vishal’s school is within walking distance? After a mid-week Christmas concert, we started V’s Christmas break by going to Long Grain for lunch.
Vishal is an adventurous eater and is always ready to eat, so lunch at Long Grain had us all excited. I know what I am ordering before I go, (as does V’s mom, Rebekah, and George). We’ve all discovered favorite dishes that keep drawing us back.
We began our feast by splitting an order of steamed dumplings with a soy ginger sauce. They were divine. V manages to make his disappear in record time, not slowed the least by using chopsticks.
My favorite dish is Chinese Yellow Noodles with Roasted Pork ($12). It is a combination of Chinese sausage, scallions, bamboo shoots and mushrooms in addition to the finely cut noodles and pork. I love the sweetness of the Chinese sausage in this dish.
Vishal is very curious about my dish and orders the same thing. He dove right in and hardly came up for a breath. When I asked him what he thought, he gave me a thumbs up but did not stop eating.
George orders Kimchi and Pork Belly with Rice Noodles every time, and it is so good. Rebekah has fallen in love with Pad Thai there and orders it again this trip. But she tells me that she sometimes orders “‘my dish.'”
Get a reservation if you can, because this is a tiny (30 seats) place. But even if you have to wait for a table, it’s worth it.
Regular readers will know that Geaghan’s in Bangor is my favorite Maine pub, with exceptional food and great micro-brews. The really good news is that those beers can now be purchased all over the state since the Geaghan’s opened a large brewery in Brewer.
I highly recommend the Smiling Irish Bastard, named for one of their cousins. I love that story. Linda and I both love their boneless chicken wings, served with a choice of sauces. And we’re not the only ones. Last year they sold over 65,000 pounds of them.
A few weeks ago I ate here with my sister Edie, and I surprised myself by not ordering my usual Reuben, which is so good. But I had just had one the previous week, so I opted to try something different: the Angry Irish Melt ($10.99) — grilled shaved steak, crisp bacon, pepperoni, jalapenos and melted pub cheese between two slices of fresh-baked bread. It was awesome. Now I have two favorites.
Hot Suppa is our favorite Portland restaurant. It’s a small space with a big menu, great beer choices and open for scrumptious breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Anytime someone wants to meet with me in Portland, I insist on meeting there for lunch.
I always have to order the fried green tomatoes, to bring home to Linda. If she heard I ate there and didn’t bring this home for her, well, I might not get dinner that night. Fortunately, she was here with me a few weeks ago, and we shared an order of the tomatoes before digging into two delicious sandwiches.
Linda had the Falafel Sandwich, which she really enjoyed. And I enjoyed my favorite, the Cubano ($12), Cuban-style roast pork, ham, gruyere, brown mustard and cornichon pickles on French bread. Yup, it’s as good as it sounds.
Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.