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.

We’ve waited a long time for winter to arrive.

It’s time to stop waiting and celebrate, even though this winter is but a small snow-shadow of itself.

The best place for your celebration is Bethel, where this weekend’s Winterfest has it all, from dogsled rides to rainforest reptiles. Bethel is a place that excels in marketing itself with special events and year-round activities — allowing the community to house a lot of good restaurants, inns and lodges.

Winterfest gives you a good opportunity to stay and feast at one of our favorite inns and restaurants — the Sudbury Inn.

Linda

Last year, we visited Sudbury Inn for the third time, enjoying yet another great meal. With two large dining rooms, the restaurant has plenty of seating, but for each of our visits, we sat on the porch where seven tables provide an intimate setting.

The restaurant usually offers special discounted dining opportunities, such as dinner for two. But even at regular prices, this place offers good value.

For our last dining visit, during the annual fall Harvest Fest,  I opted for gazpacho soup with a peppery zing. It wakes up your palate, but doesn’t fill you up.

Salads are included with entrees, and mine was mixed greens, walnuts, gorgonzola and grapes with housemade vinegrette. I could eat this salad for breakfast!

I’m a sucker for one of Sudbury’s “classics,” the Beef Tournedos. Two filets cooked to perfection are served with two sauces — one a demi-glaze and the other a blue-cheese sauce. The demi-glaze is lighter and balances the rich blue-cheese sauce. All of this is served with potato chive cakes, making the dinner truly exceptional.

Entrée choices included veal, duck, lobster, chicken roulade and seafood over pasta . . . something for everyone. I have to say the chef’s plating skills are very impressive! The dishes are almost too beautiful to eat.
I

f you have room for dessert, they’re very tempting and all freshly made here. In the past we’ve split the incredibly rich chocolate walnut pie. This time George ate it all. I enjoyed the crème brulee.

At Sudbury, you are not hurried. It’s a nice place to linger and enjoy a leisurely dinner. If your room is just up the stairs, you are lucky!

George

Sudbury Inn is well-located on Maine Street with free shuttle service to Sunday River. A lot of theWinterfest events and activities are within walking distance. Lin and I have stayed here once, in a spacious room, but they offer a full range of rooms from small to deluxe suites. A fabulous country breakfast is included, cooked to order.

But it’s the inn’s restaurant that really made us repeat customers. This is high-end dining at moderate prices.

Owner Scott Davis purchased the inn in 2008 and wisely kept the same chef, Peter Bodwell, now in his 10th year there and very talented.

My meal began where it often does when I see crab cakes on the menu. Theirs feature lots of crab meat and a not-too-spicy very tasty sauce, plus a perfectly crunchy crust. The bread rolls were fabulous, light and served with maple-honey unsalted butter.

Sticking with a seafood theme, I ordered Seafood Mediterranean featuring muscles, lobster, scallops, shrimp, tomatoes, artichokes, capers, spinach, kalamata olives and prosciutto. Superb!

And yes, I ate the entire chocolate walnut pie — plus some of Lin’s crème brulee. After all, we’d walked to the restaurant from our room at the Bethel Inn. So I got my exercise.

Sudbury also features a downstairs tavern — with a menu of pizza, sandwiches and 30 beers — and lively entertainment including music.

Winterfest

Winterfest, organized by the Chamber of Commerce, begins on Thursday, Feb. 23, with a kick-off-party at 22 Broad St., another of our favorite Bethel restaurants (it made our Best-of-2011 list).
Friday is jammed with activities, including dog-sled trips beginning at 5:15 p.m. at the Bethel Inn (824-2175 to reserve a spot in the sled). From 6 to 9 p.m., there’s a free spectator sport — a rail competition — at Mt. Abram Ski Resort.

On Saturday at the Bethel Inn, you can enjoy a sleigh ride from 5 to 7:30 p.m. And there are tons of other activities from plane rides to a scavenger hunt all day long throughout the community. Bonfires, a sliding hill, snowshoeing events — you can even ride the snow groomer. This is definitely a family event.

The kids will surely go wild at the Rainforest Reptile Show at Grand Summit Resort at 7 p.m. Saturday, billed as a “hands-on” experience! Linda says no thank you!
Sunday features an event that sounds really good (and tasty). At Sunday River’s outdoor center (824-5700), you can ski or snowshoe and dine along the trail. Fresh doughnuts! Hot soup at the covered bridge! S’mores in a fire pit! The kids would love this!

And this event benefits a good cause — the American Lung Association.

Conclusion

Bethel can be reached for a day trip, but you deserve an overnight mini-vacation. Don’t you?

If you are looking for picnic supplies, The Good Food Store on State Route 2 is an amazing little place.
The store is filled with good stuff, from wine to sweet potatoes. And their fresh deli sandwiches are awesome.

We never leave there without a bag of groceries.

IF YOU GO . . .

Bethel Inn
ON THE WEB: bethelinn.com
PHONE: 800-654-0125 for
reservations, or 824-2175.

Winterfest
ON THE WEB:
bethelwinterfest.com
or [email protected]
PHONE: 800-442-5825

Sudbury Inn and Restaurant
ON THE WEB: thesudburyinn.com
PHONE: 800-442-5826

22 Broad Street
Restaurant
ON THE WEB: 22broadstreet.com
PHONE: 824-3496

Good Food Deli
ON THE WEB: goodfoodbethel.com
PHONE: 800-879-8926

Sun Valley Sports
ON THE WEB: sunvalleysports.com
PHONE: 877-851-7333 (to rent snowmobiles)

Visit George’s website: www.george
smithmaine.com for travel tips, book reviews, outdoor news and more


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