Egg Rock was covered in colorful puffins and our cruise, followed by dinner and overnight stay at the Craignair Inn, made for a great — and affordable — summer getaway.


Last summer we visited Egg Rock, an island with nesting puffins just a few miles off the coast. But we went so late in the season that we only saw a couple of these colorful birds. Well, things worked out much better this year.

It was a beautiful summer day — blue sky, warm and no fog. The Laura B (Monhegan’s mailboat stationed on the St. George Peninsula, just south of Rockland) was transformed by putting lots of picnic tables on the open deck. Families, adults and an entire day care center were aboard the soldout cruise to see the puffins. We had barely left the dock when we heard a 4- or 5-year-old exclaim, “I see a puffin!” I knew she was going to be easy to please.

We learned about the history of the islands we passed and other birds we were apt to see from Phil, our guide for the trip. As soon as Egg Rock came into view, I strained to see a puffin on the rocks through my binoculars. Then I heard Phil say, “Up ahead on the right of the boat you’ll see some puffins in the water.” And there they were, adorable “soda-can-sized birds” bobbing in the water. Before we turned around to head back we were able to see dozens of puffins. Monhegan Boat Line has many puffin excursions throughout the summer weeks. It’s clear that this is a popular Maine adventure.

After disembarking from the boat, we enjoyed a visit to the Marshall Point Lighthouse — a stunningly beautiful spot — followed by very tasty ice cream at Port Clyde’s Village Ice Cream and Bakery.

And then it was on to the Craignair Inn — a longtime favorite and place I love. We hadn’t visited since Joanne and Michael O’Shea purchased the inn a few years ago, and it was good to see that it was just as I remembered.

The Craignair is situated at the end of the road in a lovely cove where the view changes hourly with the light and the tide. The sunlight hitting the water at 5 a.m. is breathtaking. The fresh, cool salt air makes for a restful night’s sleep in a very comfy bed. And even though I saw the sun at 5 a.m., that doesn’t mean I actually got up at that hour.

Some adventurous folks were swimming in the cove and enjoying the small sand beach not far from the inn when we arrived. And the next morning, we enjoyed a nice walk to a nearby island loaded with birds.

The restaurant at the inn is another great reason to visit. Every table has a get a view of the ocean. It is a big, open room with beautiful artwork by local artists.

You’ll begin your dinner with a basket of delectable focaccia that comes with Fiore olive oil for dipping. Our server Cassie, who lives just up the road, mentioned that the focaccia is indeed made right here. Be forewarned — you will want to eat the whole basket.

The menu features a lot of creative starters like steak kabobs, coconut fried shrimp, bacon-wrapped scallops and more. I overheard guests at the next table ordering starters as their meals for dinner. Great idea.

I tried the coconut fried shrimp with mango curry sauce as a starter. The coconut coating was great and the mango curry sauce was mild. It was a very light dish.

I ordered the evening’s special, Steak au Poivre, served with brandied blue-cheese cream sauce. My fillet was cooked perfectly, and the peppery coating was tamed by the cream sauce. Incredible home-fried potatoes, zucchini and green beans made an impressive dinner. It was an absolutely delicious entree. We split a serving of the sorbet of the day (blueberry) that held intense berry flavor and made a great finish.


Well, Lin hasn’t left much for me to say. How about this?

You’ve been asking for an “affordable” inn with nice rooms and a great restaurant at the end of a quiet peninsula with beautiful ocean views and very nice hosts — someplace for that special summer or fall getaway. The Craignair is it — not the least expensive, but not a splurge either. Just right for most pocketbooks, with rooms ranging from $90 to $200.

Joanne and Michael O’Shea are interesting people. She worked in finance. He was an actor. They left Colorado and gave it all up to teach English in South Korea, then decided to buy an inn or set of cottages in Maine — without ever spending time here. They hadn’t intended to purchase a restaurant.

Probably not the best training for innkeepers and restaurateurs, but they quickly figured it all out and earned a reputation for hospitality and good food. Amy Barstow, of the Monhegan Boat Line, was singing their praises when we visited the island this spring, so we scheduled a summer visit to Craignair and the Barstow’s popular puffin cruise. The thing that surprised me most was the number of businesses and fun things to do on the St. George Peninsula. We’re going to have to write another column about that.

But back to the inn, where I spent an hour before dinner in the large living room, checking on emails and handling other duties on my laptop. Even an inn at the end of the road has Wi-Fi these days. We’d had a long day and looked forward to dinner, just two stories down from our third-floor room. I love walking to dinner!

For one thing, we could enjoy an entire bottle of one of our favorite wines, Malbec, reasonably priced at $30. I also noted a good selection of Maine beer, including one of my favorites, Bar Harbor’s Coal Porter. They also have a full bar with cocktails and other concoctions.

While crabcakes always call my name, and it was tempting to order them as an appetizer (priced at just $8 and also available as a $12 entree), I decided to go all-haddock that night. A cup of haddock chowder was full of flavor and fish, and made me wish I’d ordered a bowl. Cassie told me “it has some kick” and it does.

When she told me that baked crab-stuffed haddock was their most popular entree and her favorite, I had to have it. It was prepared with lemon beurre blanc and accompanied by an asiago, red pepper and scallion risotto that was creamy and delicious. The crabmeat stuffing inside the fresh haddock, with crispy veggies on the side, was yummy.

At the next table, I heard a woman exclaim, “This is a wonderful meal!” I concurred. A lot of menu items interested me, including the seafood pasta and the pan-seared crispy duck breast (a dish that got rave online reviews). Good excuse to return.

And we did return — for breakfast the next morning. Joanne handles the service and Michael is the breakfast chef. I told him I’d be returning so he could teach me to cook. All guests get the same breakfast, and Michael’s shirred egg was a work of art, creative and delicious. His blueberry muffin was to die for.

We love inns where the owners live on the premises and pitch in on every task, from mowing to clearing tables. Joanne and Michael are definitely hands-on owners and spend a lot of time visiting with their guests. Our next visit will feel like going home. And I can’t pay them any bigger compliment than that.

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