George

The Big Moose Inn just west of Millinocket, enroute to Baxter State Park, is an amazing place with two campgrounds plus lovely cabins and comfy rooms at the inn, just upstairs from their pub and Fredericka’s restaurant. We love historical places and this place got started 165 years ago. History still hangs here on the walls.

The current owners have been here for 40 years, and now include their grandchildren in the management team. Linda was threatening to sit in the pub by herself, because that’s the menu that appealed to her, while I preferred Fredericka’s menu. Fortunately, no matter where you sit, you may order from either menu.

The pub was packed on this Thursday night with folks enjoying the live music. So we chose the quiet side room in Fredericka’s. We were the first to be seated there, but all four tables were quickly filled, all with diners here for the first time. Elegant doesn’t begin to describe this beautiful room.

Our server, Felicia, has worked here for 7 years, and was super friendly and helpful. I took her advice and enjoyed the crab cake for an appetizer, which she said was one of the chef’s specialties. The menu described it as fresh Maine crab with cannellini beans and bacon ragout with wasabi aioli ($12). It was just as tasty as that sounds, one of the best crab cakes I’ve ever had. And my Geaghan’s Irish Red beer ($8 for 22 ounces) went well with the dish.

When Felicia recommended the Seafood Casserole ($24) for an entree, I really got a kick out of having a seafood feast in the north woods, something you might not expect. This is described as a “traditional dish” here, with haddock, lobster, shrimp and scallops served in a creamy, white-wine vegetable sauce. It came with a salad and a cinnamon-swirl mini loaf of bread served warm, along with peapods, carrots, a tasty salsa and mashed potatoes.

As Linda noted with a smile, “You ordered the two most expensive things, and have a huge beer!” Well, yes, all in order to give you a good report on the dining experience here. Linda warned me not to eat too much before my casserole arrived, but the crab cake was sooo delicious that I ate it all, making it impossible to eat more than half of the casserole, chock-full of seafood.

But we were on our way to camp, an hour north of the inn, and boy, did that casserole make a fine lunch the next day! Debbi, who grew up with Lori, one of the owners, gave us a tour of the inn and cabins, and now we know why this place is so busy when we drive by on our way to camp. The rooms and cabins are beautiful. And we won’t be driving by the pub and restaurant enroute to camp in the future. This is now a must-stop-and-eat place for us!

Linda

How often do you get to dine at two different restaurants at the same time, and still be able to sit at one table together? Well, it has never happened to us before. But while George dined at Fredericka’s, I dined at the Loose Moose Bar and Grill.

I appreciated the flexibility this gave us. I noted that each table in our room placed orders from both menus. Talk about a variety of choice! The pub menu was lengthy with many tempting choices.

I ordered the Chicken Wing and Drumstick appetizer ($7) that had a non-greasy, crunchy coating. Ranch dressing made a great dip and I chose a Stella Artois draft beer to go along with it. I was happy to be dining at the Loose Moose Pub. This appetizer was enough to split, but George had his own substantial appetizer. The leftovers were much appreciated the next day at camp.

We could hear the live music from the bar in the background, which was pretty neat. The windows of our room looked out on majestic pines and other trees lending a woodsy feel even though the main road is close by.

I had a really hard time choosing an entree because they all sounded so good. Pizzas come on fresh dough or flatbread and they have calzones, too. There are also many creative subs and sandwiches.

When all was said and done, the Baxter Burger ($11) was calling my name. How could I not, in a camp setting on the edge of Baxter State Park? It had all my favorites on it: bacon, caramelized onions and blue cheese. Holy cow! It was perfectly cooked and so good. It came with chips, coleslaw and a pickle. And I almost made it through all of the burger by omitting some of the roll.

The portions are plentiful, the beer is ice cold and the prices are reasonable. I like the fact that I could still dine with my husband even though he was eating in a different restaurant.

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.