Woody and Lee Hughes have created a special travel experience at The Mill Hill Inn in Bethel, just down the hill from the commons. It’s only a three-minute walk to downtown, but you’d never guess that, quietly nestled in the trees and beautiful gardens here at the Inn. After getting a warm greeting and visiting for a while with Woody and Lee, Linda and I grabbed a couple of micro-brews and sat in comfortable chairs on the lawn, relaxing.

And boy, this is a great place to relax.

I’ve learned that mattresses matter and our mattress was soooo comfortable. Linda, usually up by 5 a.m., slept ‘til 7, something that hasn’t happened in a long while. The inn was once a barn and had been turned into an inn and restaurant but abandoned. Woody and Lee somehow saw its potential and purchased it from the bank. They have done an amazing job here.

Be sure to read our Travelin’ Maine(rs) column about the inn for the whole story. In this blog post, I’ll tell you more about the restaurant.

The Studio Bistro and Bar features a “tapas-inspired menu designed around sharing multiple small plates staggered over the course of an evening for a relaxed and unhurried dining experience.”

Linda and I lingered for two hours, ordering and enjoying one tapas dish, then ordering another. We were able to enjoy five dishes and liked all of them. That night they offered four “Standards” to begin the meal, and we ordered the fresh bread with seasoned olive oil, roasted vegetables, and feta cheese. It was soooo good, I asked Lin if I could drink the oil left in the bowl when we were finished. Alas, the answer was no.

I had a tough time choosing between cod cakes and scallops for my final tapa. I discussed the choices with Linda and was raving about the chili cayenne aioli that was served with the cod cakes when she asked me, “Do you know what aioli is?”

“Well, no I don’t,” I replied. “Its mayonnaise,” she informed me. Good to know! I do love mayonnaise. Linda did note that, “they probably make their own,” and they do.

I decided on the scallops, which were simmered in a nicely-spiced and savory Thai curry sauce. A fellow at the next table went with the cod cakes and said they were very good. Next time!

Linda’s falafel tapa was very good too, and it was her favorite, but it was her third tapa, chicken satay with roasted peppers in a peanut curry sauce, that I judged our best dish of the night. A lot of their tapas are gluten free, and they also offer a children’s menu. We asked Woody how he created his menu, and he said, “It’s all the food I like when I go out!” Which, of course, he doesn’t get much chance to do anymore. So it’s good that he has all that food he likes right handy there in the kitchen.

Woody is a well-known potter and created beautiful dishes for the restaurant, but when I asked our server, Meaghan, if they had to wash them by hand, she laughed and said, “No, Woody would not make pottery that you couldn’t toss into a dishwasher!”

We purchased one of Woody’s beautiful serving trays, but I have a feeling that Linda is never going to allow me to toss that into our dishwasher! I’ll be washing that by hand, for sure.

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