The Travelin Maine(rs), George and Linda Smith of Mount Vernon, have spent their lifetimes enjoying all that Maine has to offer. Now they’ll tell you all about it — their favorite inns, restaurants, trips, activities, experiences, and travel books and websites — in their own personal style. They’ll be offering anecdotes, tips and all the details you need, So join them in exploring, experiencing and enjoying the great State of Maine.


“I would go to a conference on watching paint dry if it included lunch at the Harraseeket.” These were the words of Carol Ford of Cranberry Island Kitchens when she learned of our pending visit to Freeport’s Harraseeket Inn. She’d obviously been there before. It’s a place you just can’t get enough of.

And that’s why we returned recently for a two-day, two-night stay at this premier Maine inn, located just down the street from our state’s top shopping destination, L.L.Bean. We shopped. We ate. We ate some more. We shopped some more. Shopped. Ate. Well, you get the idea.


The accommodations at the Harraseeket are upscale — from the 4:00 p.m. tea service in the mahogany-paneled drawing room, to the evening offer of turning your bed down accompanied by chocolates. Some rooms have a Jacuzzi while 24 have working, wood fireplaces. The rooms are beautifully decorated.

On our February school break, there were many families there with children. Apart from seeing them at breakfast or when we walked by the pool, we’d have never known they were there. Packaged specials make this a convenient and affordable getaway for families, couples or anyone else.

In the inn’s Maine Dining Room, I embarked on the best meal of my life. Hands down. On a Monday evening, the restaurant was full by 7:30. But it was extremely quiet. Soothing music, a roaring fire and low lighting add to the ambiance.

Small plates offer a way to sample meat and seafood prepared in interesting ways for just $9 to $12 each. Entrees during our visit, priced from $24 to $32, featured Maine seafood and farm-raised game. I love a great salad and my endive and frisee salad with roasted pears, hazelnuts and blue cheese was off the chart!

After much consideration I chose the Duck “Two Ways.” They cook the duck leg confit-style. I’m not sure what that means but it equals delicious. The caramel-crispy outside and the tender meat give this amazing flavor. The second part is a pan-seared duck breast. The chef cooked it medium rare to perfection. This meat is unbelievable — tender and juicy. The dish is rounded out with shallots and greens and three-cheese polenta. Every bite is savored and George’s eyebrows are raised when he tries the dish.

Few restaurants offer tableside food preparation but this one does and they do it with flair. Ceasar salad, Chateaubriand and Rack of Lamb are offered tableside and entertain the entire restaurant, not just those who ordered them.

We finished our meal with the Jamaican Bananas that are caramelized and flambéed, then served over vanilla ice cream. Such a treat!


I’ve eaten so many meals in the Harraseeket’s Broad Arrow Tavern that I should have my own table. And I’m in a rut there, always having the luncheon buffet — an astonishing presentation of food at an amazing price — for just $16.95.

The day Lin and I ate lunch there, the buffet included seafood chowder, a variety of salads, cheeses and breads, mussels (my favorite), fried shrimp and haddock, pork with lemon, beef and vegetable stir-fry, pasta with eggplant and mushrooms, cauliflower au gratin — even pizza. Unbelievable!

Stuffed beyond measure, I pondered the desserts: German chocolate roulade, white chocolate pistachio tart (superb), white chocolate apricot cream cheese pie, cookies, bars and my all-time favorite — vanilla ice milk. I could eat a gallon of it at a time. Dedicated to providing you with a comprehensive review, I tried them all!

The tavern offers other dishes from burgers to the traditional haddock sandwich. Linda had a Reuben during one of our meals there and it was very, very good. They also have a great selection of Maine microbrews.

Take your camera to the tavern because the decorations are fabulous, including a stuffed beaver at the entrance, moose, bear and deer mounts, antique snowshoes and decoys, and even an ancient bamboo fly rod. The wood fire — always blazing — is also a nice touch. And I especially appreciate the chefs who are right there, anxious to tell you about each dish.

Now, I want you to get out your 2012 schedule and select a February date to eat at the Maine Dining Room when the menu features game dishes. It’s a dining experience not to be missed in one of the state’s finest restaurants. When and where else would you be offered slow-braised rabbit legs, venison osso buco, pheasant statler breast, duck two ways and Guinness buffalo short ribs?

The Harraseeket’s owner/manager Chip Gray told me not to miss the buffalo short ribs and I’m very glad I took his advice. I was ready to roll up my sleeves and dig into the ribs but when they arrived, they’d been deboned! The melt-in-your mouth meat, the sauce, the smoked tomatoes (WOW!), celery root, carrots, turnips, fingerling potatoes, cippolini onions and local chard — well, you’ll dream about this meal for a long time.

Our waiter Greg was very helpful, obviously experienced and well-acquainted with the menu selections. We selected a $31 bottle of the 2008 El Malbec De Ricardo Santor and it was a perfect match for our meal.

The Harraseeket’s 64 rooms include six suites with prices ranging from $135 to $240, and they constantly advertise special packages. We took the Valentine’s Package one year and felt truly spoiled.

Freeport obviously has become a shopping destination, but many of the Harraseeket’s guests are there for other reasons. In fact, the inn has been tracking a new trend in which adults with kids send their parents to the inn for school vacation week while the family heads to Florida. A win-win for everyone! And a special note to our own children!

L.L.Bean offers great opportunities to experience new outdoor experiences in their Discovery Schools, and anglers ought to sign up for Chip’s fishing adventure. He flies you to Bradford Camps to fish for Maine’s Heritage Fish — the brook trout — in a North Woods wilderness setting. A second flight takes you to Washington County to experience world-class, small-mouth bass fishing in a traditional, and locally made, Grand Laker canoe. Then it’s back to the Harraseeket after the trip of a lifetime. You may have time to catch a few striped bass nearby.


We know of no Maine restaurant that is so focused on local foods and healthy meals. The back of the dining room menu lists 39 local farmers and growers. Chip consults with doctors about his menu, serves many gluten-free meals, buys everything he can locally (even getting greens grown in Maine in the winter!) and is obsessed with offering the tastiest and healthiest meals in Maine.

The inn has two large public rooms and hosts many events including weddings. The staff is super-attentive and friendly. Attention to detail is extraordinary. And we didn’t even tell you about the bounteous buffet breakfast!

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