George

The Slipway Restaurant in Thomaston is THE place where locals and visitors go for seafood, but we discovered lots of other menu choices there for those who don’t like to dine from the sea. Joining us for dinner were our daughter Rebekah with her in-laws, Noreen and Randy, along with our youngest grandson Vishal.

Chef/owner Scott Yakovenko, who grew up in this area and once had a very popular restaurant in Port Clyde, has a stellar reputation for seafood, so I chose the grilled scallops ($9.50) appetizer with arugula, spinach, lemon and EVOO — which Rebekah explained was extra virgin olive oil. Boy, I am learning a lot with these travel columns!

The portion was generous so I shared the scallops with Randy and Noreen. The scallops were prepared just the way I like them, charred on the outside but nearly raw inside. I also asked our server, Emily (a very friendly Thomaston native and mother working here for the third summer) to bring me a taste of the clam chowder — and afterward, really wished I’d ordered more. Lots of clams, nicely salted creamy broth.

For an entree, Noreen talked me into the Bouillabaisse ($24), which she enjoyed on her last visit here. It wasn’t a hard sell. The Bouillabaisse included local lobster, crab, fish, shrimp, clams, mussels, oysters and scallops in a tomato and saffron broth. Delivered in a large bowl, with a lobster claw on top, this was a memorable seafood feast.

Noreen enjoyed a linguini special ($24.50) with mahogany clams, hake, scallops, leeks and chorizo sausage. Randy went with the fish and chips ($12.50), often my choice, while Vishal made short shrift of his chicken fingers ($8.50). Everything on the table looked good and tasted even better.

Rebekah, like Linda (a person who doesn’t eat fish), was very pleased by her selection, so I asked her to tell you about it. Here’s what she wrote:

“The Summer Vegetarian Plate ($14.50) provided a panoply of colors. Served on a rectangular plate, it began with a green salad bright with multicolored peppers, and also included coleslaw, beets, potatoes, fried tofu, corn on the cob and rice. The corn, from a local farm, was particularly delicious. I’m not usually a coleslaw fan, but this was scrumptious. For those who don’t prefer fish, the vegetarian plate offered a wonderful option that was both beautifully presented and tasty.”

It was also huge — so, good Dad that I am, I helped her with it.

Linda

We were greeted at the entrance by Nora, the summer hostess here, who teaches at the Riley School, in Rockport, where our grandsons Addison and Vishal have been students. It was so good to see her and she made us feel very welcome, giving us a choice of rooms and tables. It was a rainy night so we couldn’t choose the tables out on the dock, but I’ll bet they are very popular in nice weather.

If you don’t eat fish, like me, you will still find some nice choices at the Slipway. My entree of Chicken Milanese, a crispy chicken cutlet served with a lemon and caper butter sauce, was sooo good. The seasoned coating made the cutlet crispy on the outside, while still being moist on the inside. A medley of five kinds of fresh vegetables and the best rice I have had in a very long time rounded out my dinner.

Vishal is a kid who needs to be always busy, so while the adults were talking, he got out his pad of paper and began drawing things he noticed around the room and asking us, after he completed each one, to guess what he’d drawn. Then he moved on to drawing fish. When Emily stopped by and noticed one of this fish drawings, she returned to the kitchen and brought Vishal a dish with a fish painted on it for his French fries. I wish we had captured his smile when he saw that dish!

When I looked around at the end of our meal, I noticed that everyone had cleaned their plates. That speaks volumes.

I ordered the chocolate torte for dessert, thankful that I didn’t have an appetizer because it would have been a shame to miss this dessert. The torte was chocolaty and bittersweet, and paired perfectly with a raspberry sauce drizzle and dollop of whipped cream. All of the dessert portions were large.

Vishal is all about ice cream and dove into his sundae with Grampy sneaking his spoon over when he could.

Scott’s mom, Sandy, makes all the desserts here and we tried four of them, all of which were superb. So when Emily told us Scott’s mom was in the restaurant that night, we sought her out to say hi and let her know we loved her desserts. Coconut cream pie is one of George’s favorites, and he told Sandy hers was the best he’d ever had.

What a great place to enjoy a summer or fall meal, with a nice view of the St. George River and wonderful food. This is Maine, through and through. And now we know why it is so popular.

Conclusion

You better go soon because this seasonal restaurant closes in mid-October. And if you don’t make it this year, we’ll remind you again when the Slipway opens next summer!

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed in the “Best of Maine” section.

Historic Poland Spring

I was reading Dad’s newspaper the other day, in his room at the Togus VA Hospice Unit, when a full-page ad grabbed my attention. Sponsored by individual board members of the Poland Spring Preservation Society, the ad was a very big thank you to Poland Spring Bottling Company for “being a great neighbor.”

“The Poland Spring Preservation Society was formed in 1976,” noted the ad, “to maintain the Maine State Building and All Soul Chapel. Without the support of Poland Spring Bottling and other generous sponsors, these buildings would not be here today.”

The ad reminded me of the time we visited the Bottling Museum, Maine State Building and All Souls Chapel next to the Poland Spring Resort. These are fascinating places you should put on your bucket list.

In the ad, I learned that Hiram Ricker began selling bottled water in 1845. By 1907 a state-of-the-art bottling facility and springhouse were constructed using Spanish architecture. Poland Spring Water won the “Best Water Award” at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Linda and I really enjoyed seeing the museum, which also has recreational trails throughout the property.

All three buildings are stunning. Ten Maine quarries donated granite for the Maine State Building, and the slate shingles came from Monson. As the Preservation Society noted in the ad, the building, “is our symbol of Maine Pride.”

If you are a golfer, you will particularly enjoy the Maine Golf Hall of Fame in this building which also houses the Nettie Ricker art gallery, a museum and a gift shop.

The All Souls Chapel was opened in 1912 as a place of worship. Today it’s used mostly for weddings and musical concerts, but it is also a very spiritual place. The Chapel’s nine stained glass windows are beautiful, and the great pipes of the 1926 Skinner Pipe Organ still make wonderful music. My mom, a church organist, would have loved this organ.

The Bottling Museum is open mid-May until mid-October, Thursday – Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Maine State Building is also open mid-May until mid-October, Tuesday — Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 9-11 a.m. For more information call 998-4142 or check out their website at www.polandspringps.org.

And while you are in the area, don’t miss the nearby Shaker Village in New Gloucester. It’s open year-round. — George

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