Linda

From the mini cooking whip on your room keychain to photos of stunning plates of food on an iPad on your dining table, it is clear that the Hartstone Inn attracts people who appreciate fine food. We had recommendations from several friends that a stay at the Hartstone is a must. And they were so right. The rooms are stunning, and everyone is focused on making your stay here memorable.

The main inn is a historic building once owned by a Camden doctor. Owners Mary Jo Brink and Michael Salmon took over the inn in 1998 and later purchased two nearby buildings that now provide suites for their guests.

We loved the Arbor Suite in the Manor House. This contemporary room is large and beautifully furnished. Its white walls and ceiling, multiple windows and two skylights make the Arbor room light and airy. A king-size sleigh bed with a foam top mattress almost guarantees a restful sleep.

Amenities include a white free-standing gas fireplace, a writing desk, a comfortable sitting area and a bathroom that includes a Jacuzzi. Stylish warm bathrobes and a dish of chocolates awaits. What a place for a getaway!

The inn’s restaurant is open to the public. When you check in and see photos of the elegantly prepared food on display at the entrance, you’ll make a reservation. Michael and Mary Jo offer foodie adventure trips to France, Spain and Italy. These folks know fine food.

A beautifully set table had me pondering all the silverware, and we were stymied by something we didn’t recognize. I guessed, correctly, that it was a knife rest. The stunning china and glassware were handpicked by Mary Jo.

I did recognize the food, knowing instantly that I wanted the Mushroom Prosciutto Tartlet as an appetizer. Unbelievably flaky crust held the sweet, salty and savory filling. It was fantastic. Their delicious bread was crusty and sheer perfection with their salty herb butter.

My mouth watered as I read the description of that evening’s beef tenderloin preparation ($24). Medallions of beef served with a Merlot mushroom butter were every bit as good as they sounded. Salty rosemary roasted potatoes and a creamy cauliflower puree made every bite a bit of heaven. The spinach was incredible, and I heard others raving about it as well. George loved his entree, but his fork kept attacking my plate. Exquisite, we agreed. I had a light sorbet trio as dessert. This was served with fruit and made a great ending to a fantastic dinner.

A multi-course breakfast is included with your stay. Along with juice, coffee and a starter, you can choose from the sweet or savory entree option. The Red Pepper Cream Sauce was a yummy version of their eggs Benedict.

George

I can’t explain why it took so long to get here, but the Hartstone Inn is now at the top of our favorites list. This is luxury along with very friendly staff, exceptional comfort and awesome food. We got a warm welcome from JJ, an intern from the Philippines who is spending a year here. She gave us a tour of the inn, then accompanied us to the Manor House to show us our suite. JJ was also our server at dinner.

I especially enjoyed the 5 p.m. social gathering in the sitting room, which guests are encouraged to visit. The first two couples in the room were from the Portland area — confirming our suspicion that Mainers value this place — and I was pleasantly surprised to hear from one of the gentlemen that he’d brought a copy of my book, “A Life Lived Outdoors,” with him to read at the inn. Yes, Maine is a small world. I also enjoyed a $5 martini of vanilla vodka, green apple schnapps and fresh lime juice. Yum.

My dinner was amazing, too, starting with the smoked haddock chowder ($12) that included sauteed leaks and crisp bacon. This included a generous amount of haddock purchased fresh from Jess’ Seafood Market in Rockland. I stuck with fish for my entree, a pan-seared cod ($24) with warm tomato, olive and caper tapenade that was particularly tasty. They also have an impressive wine list with plenty of choices of our favorite Italian wines, one of which we selected: Carpineto Chianti Classico 2013 ($36) from our favorite Tuscany town, Greve.

Everything is beautiful here, from the intimate dining room to the napkins. At breakfast, I was captivated by the iPad on our table showing scenes from Italy — so captivated that I came home and immediately booked a trip to Italy. The raspberry pineapple juice was delicious, and my eggs Benedict was divine, covered with their own red pepper cream sauce. We got a chance to visit with Mary Jo, who manages the inn while her husband cooks. Mary Jo is super friendly and even invited us to visit her farm where she has Icelandic horses.

One of the couples from Portland dined at a table nearby and summed this up nicely: “There’s something to be said for being able to drive an hour and a half and enjoy this wonderful inn and amazing meals.” Indeed.

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