From the small Oyster Bar upstairs, to the larger and lively tavern downstairs, King Eider’s many-
awards-winning pub in Damariscotta, is a splendid place to spend an evening — or even a day. The menu  is huge, the selection of beer and other beverages not much smaller, and the friendly “hi-neighbor how-ya-doin’ ” atmosphere makes regulars out of all first-time patrons — including us!

George

I now aspire to a King Eider’s Pub mug. A total of 520 lucky customers have their own pub mugs, which hang from the ceiling. With ceiling space now totally consumed, there is a waiting list for a mug, hand-crafted by Hallowell Pottery Works.

When a patron arrives, Jed Weiss, who owns the pub with Todd Maurer, pulls the patron’s $75 mug off the ceiling using a tree twig. I’ve got to have one!

As you would expect, the usual Irish pub beers are available, including Guinness and Smithwick, but I was more impressed that they serve Sheepscot Valley Pemaquid Scottish Ale from one of my favorite brewers located in Whitefield. Of course, I had one with dinner — a malty brew made with Scottish yeast. Very, very good — as is the food.

We began the night upstairs in the small quiet Oyster Bar, sharing Oyster’s Rockefeller — a favorite of ours. It was fantastic — huge oysters served in the shell with a very tasty stuffing. We asked for a half-portion and the three oysters made a perfect appetizer for us.

If you like oysters, this is the place. Actually, King Eider’s Pub is just one of several Damariscotta restaurants featuring oysters grown locally in the Damariscotta River, in this case by the Norumbega Oyster Co. Jed told us they serve up to 700 oysters a day.

Along with the oysters, I started my evening with a Fuller’s London Porter, a real bargain at $4.25 considering it’s billed as the “number one Porter in the world.” It was smooth, rich, strong and creamy.
There is a nice quiet dining room upstairs, but we opted for the downstairs pub and when our table there was ready, we moved down. Ignoring the fact I’d already enjoyed an appetizer, I ordered a cup of clam chowder. It was loaded with nicely diced clams, plenty of potatoes and a scrumptious broth that was somewhat spicy. Ummmm, good. When I told Lin I loved the broth, she said, “It’s probably cream.” And of course, she was right.

We shared crab cakes, very tasty with a nice kick. Jed shared with Lin that their homemade tarter sauce — something they’ve just started selling as a commercial product — includes capers, and she went home and immediately whipped it up for us. Yummy!

For an entrée, I ordered Seafood Pot Pie, a “mid-coast original with fresh haddock, lobster, salmon, scallops, in a velvety cream sauce, topped with a flaky crust.” It came with a salad and sweet cornbread.

Lin’s eyes lit up when she saw our salads, with lots of tomatoes, exclaiming,” We’re tomato deprived.”
My eyes lit up when the huge seafood pot pie arrived. I was very pleased to find it included a generous number of scallops — a personal favorite — as well as other seafood, and it was superb.
Glancing my way, Lin noted, “You went with the white theme tonight. Oysters. Clam chowder, Crab cakes. And seafood pie. Thank God they threw some green lettuce in there!”

Admittedly, that was a lot of food. As I labored to finish the huge seafood pie, Linda said I was, “gasping for air and blowing seafood breath at her.” Guilty as charged.

And I haven’t even told you about the coleslaw, one of the state’s best. I’m ashamed that I can’t even remember what it was served with!
   
Linda

Due to a mix-up on our part, we arrived at King Eider’s Pub an hour early. It’s a Friday night and they are very busy. “No problem,” says co-owner Jed Weiss. He suggests that we go upstairs to the Oyster Bar. I’m so glad we did.

The cute bar has second-story windows that look out to the street below. As we sit at the small bar we have a front-row seat. (A good thing because it’s a two-seater bar!) A dance of well-synchronized action occurs as drinks are prepared on one side of the tiny work area, and fresh oysters are shucked on the other.

Do oysters come any fresher? George tells me that they are harvested from the Damariscotta River  — something I had no clue about. As we watch the servers use a swiveling tool anchored to the table to shuck the oysters, I don’t think they can be fresher. Some are delivered to the upstairs dining area next to us, while the rest go to downstairs diners. Let me just say that there were a lot of oysters being served.

We sampled a half order of Oysters Rockefeller. The oysters were extremely tender and delicious with a spinach and bread topping.

The pub downstairs has an intimate atmosphere. Hanging mugs create a ceiling of their own. We decided to try the crab cakes once Jed tells us that they sell their own tartar sauce under the Duckilicious Fine Foods label. The cakes are light, yet hearty and we understand why they’d want to sell that tartar sauce!

Jed is busy but takes time to visit with customers. He knows the Pub Club regulars and chats with all customers as they arrive and leave. The pub is full of conversation, but is pleasantly quiet.

I decide upon the BBQ Ribs as they are basted with house-made Maple BBQ Sauce (also available under the Duckilicious brand). The sauce is sweet with a zing to it. Do not order this meal if you are trying to be dainty! There will be BBQ sauce everywhere, but it’s oh so good. What a great match with the superb crunchy coleslaw.

We inquire about their chef, as we always do. Jed tells us that most of the kitchen staff is from Jamaica (many of whom are related). He says he’s never seen such hard workers in his entire life! Many serve breakfast or do catering as a second job before they come to work well into the evening here. Based on the food that came out of that kitchen, I’d say it’s a partnership that’s working very well.

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

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