Linda

The Sea Glass restaurant, located at the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, is a special place. The Sea Glass art collection had recently been changed and the walls showcased bright colors with a variety of artistic styles. You will find Maine artists as well as Matisse and Chagall.

We’ve sent several friends there for special celebrations, and they’ve all raved about both the inn and the restaurant. If you haven’t yet experienced a dinner here, mark it down for a special treat.

Andrew Chadwick became the new executive chef in July, and we were thoroughly impressed when we dined there a week ago. He is about as personable as you could get. After a few moments, I sensed his deep knowledge and love of cooking. He offered us a tasting menu with smaller portions “to give an idea of what we do here.” Well, what he is doing here is magic.

Eva, who works at the reception desk, raved about the chef’s mini lobster tacos. She told me she doesn’t even like lobster that much but she loves these. And when we began with the adorable taco, I too was blown away. Sweet chili sauce, shaved radish and avocado puree in a housemade corn shell turned the humble taco into another food entirely. Oh my goodness! A normal appetizer plate consists of three minis. No matter how many he served, there would never be enough — they are that good.

Two items on the entree menu change daily, and we were able to sample both. The Local Catch was skate cheeks. The fish was melt-in-your-mouth tender. My big objection to fish is its texture, but this was incredible. Earthy roasted mushrooms, potatoes and a green bean picatta sauce paired well with the delicate fish.

The daily vegan creation, the Winter Collection, was created with locally sourced products. This one featured soy-glazed carrots (baby carrots spit lengthwise and roasted), cauliflower, scallions and thinly shaved radish all served with a hot and sour broth. Anyone who says vegetables are boring should certainly try this dish.

Though it would be hard to choose a favorite entree, I think mine was the Hudson Valley duck breast. The duck was so tender that it reminded me of filet mignon. The other star of this entree was the farro verde. How does one cook grains to be that perfect, I wondered? Great care in cooking the farro yielded a creamy, well-flavored side with a great texture. Onion sous vide, pickled blueberries, cider jus and squash puree offered pops of flavors that were outstanding.

The ocean perch, also known as redfish, is one of the sustainable seafood species promoted by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. It was well balanced with sweet golden raisins and crunchy pine nuts. The curried cauliflower added a bit of spice. Caper anchovy vinaigrette finished this off for yet another perfect dish.

By this time my tongue was dancing through experiencing all these flavors. Chef Chadwick has changed the menu four times since his arrival. At the forefront of his style is foods that are sustainable and locally sourced. He is very happy to have so many local sources available here.

Through four entrees, a starter and a dessert we continued to be dazzled with Chef Chadwick’s talent. Food is art on his menu and delicate plates are so beautiful you feel a little bad about disrupting perfection. But your palate will be happy you did!

George

I love it when Linda raves about seafood, which she rarely eats. When I heard her exclaim, as she tasted the skate cheeks, “This is so, so, so good,” I was truly astonished. But she got it right. I joked with Chef Andrew, after the first tasting of lobster tacos, that he could skip the rest of the courses and just bring me a half dozen of those.

Before he arrived here, Andrew had a distinguished and busy culinary career, including managing six restaurants on Cape Cod. We are very lucky to have him in Maine.

The restaurant is a beautiful, quiet, cozy place with gorgeous views of the ocean. I can’t think of a better place to enjoy a special occasion and fine meal. And while the place is packed in the summer with tourists, the rest of year it is all ours.

Our server, Jessica, was very friendly and helpful, and we enjoyed getting to know her. I surprised myself by thoroughly enjoying the vegan dish which was nicely spiced. Every presentation by Chef Andrew and his crew was beautiful. I took lots of photos.

Even our Linzer Torte dessert was special, presented on an ice cold slate. Brown sugar chocolate ice cream sat atop a beautiful pastry that covered a berry filling, and was served with fresh berries. What’s not to like about that?

On New Year’s Eve, Chef Andrew will offer a special tasting menu for $70. That would definitely get your new year off to a great start.

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.

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