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Chez Nous, Lee, MA - Review

A couple of weeks ago the POSSLQ and I spent a decompression weekend in the Massachusetts Berkshires. That Friday evening we had dinner at Chez Nous in Lee, MA.

Since this was our favorite meal of the weekend, I will give copious notes. Other food related activities of the weekend will be in a separate post for brevity's sake.

Our first time dining here, and we were greatly impressed. As its name would imply, Chez Nous is a French leaning restaurant, but with a somewhat lighter hand than classic French cuisine. Food and service were superior. Cost was surprisingly reasonable. Quoted descriptions are taken directly off the menu.

Upon being seated and before ordering we were presented with a basket of excellent bread and a small terrine of delicious black olive tapenade. Both were annihilated well before our appetizer arrived.

We each started with a well mixed and strong bourbon sour, and for apps we split a plate of:

"Crispy Cod and Corn Accras ($11)
French Caribbean Fish Fritters, Lime, Pepper & Cilantro 'Sauce Chien'"

The fritters were lighter than I expected, and the sauce was spicy but not overpowering. Very tasty.

The real fun started with the entrees. One of my enduring (not necessarily endearing) habits when eating out is an almost catatonic inability to make up my mind between a choice of several available entrees. In a nod toward those who prefer lighter meals, Chez Nous takes the sensible, and admirable, position of offering every entree in either full or half portions. Nirvana! Forget the lighter meals, here was my opportunity to have not one but two entrees, each in a half serving! My SO thought this was such a good plan that she decided to adopt it as well, so here is what we ordered.

She:

"Pan Seared Scallops, Soy Ginger Vinaigrette (half order, $15)
Peppers, Onions, Baby Bok Choy & Basmati Rice"

"Roasted Idaho River Trout (half order, $13)
Citrus & Fresh Tomato Vinaigrette, Toasted Couscous & Pinenuts, Sauteed Spinach"

She also had a glass of Chardonnay.

Me:

"Braised Long Island Duck in Red Wine, Wild Blueberries (half order, $14)
Summer Vegetables, House Made Potato Gnocchi"

"Lamb Navarin Basquaise (half order, $14)
French Lamb Stew, Fresh Pepper, Olive, Pearl Onion & Tomato, Creamy Mashed Potatoes"

I was still nursing my whiskey sour, so I didn't have wine.

We could find no fault with any dish. I was a bit worried that the blueberries would make the duck preparation too sweet, but the wine added enough acidity to prevent that, and the blueberry flavor simply enriched the reduction. In fact, I found both the duck and lamb reductions to be so good that I asked for extra bread to mop them up. "Waste not, want not", my mother used to say. At least, that's the excuse I use.

The service was impeccable, but in no way stuffy. On the advice of the kitchen our waitress even suggested the order in which the entrees should be served (as listed above). She waited until we were both completely finished with our first entree before clearing the table, and then brought the second entrees simultaneously.

Each of these "half portions" would have easily been served as full entrees in some big city restaurants in which I have eaten, and would have been priced accordingly.

Sadly, we were both too full to partake of the mouth watering desserts.

The tariff:

2 cocktails
1 glass of wine
1 appetizer
4 half order entrees
tax and 20%+ tip
$120

We would certainly return, and look forward to doing so.

Lower Maine

One of our favorite places in that area in the off season is The Lobster Cove Restaurant directly on the ocean in York Beach, Maine. Just about exactly the kind of place you described. Open all year, but I would still call first just to make sure. Stick to basics and the food is fine and reasonably priced. Best views are from the 2nd floor. Go after the typical lunch hour and you will pretty much have the place to yourselves.

http://www.lobstercoverestaurant.com/
https://www.facebook.com/LobsterCove

Jan 24, 2014
groaker in Northern New England

Fried Oysters in Ct.

I also love fried oysters, and the best I have had in CT are at the Sea Swirl on Rte 1 in Mystic. I usually get the so-called "Side Order", which is a small carton, along with an order of their excellent onion rings as an accompaniment. Take-out only. Open seasonally - their last day this year is September 18th.

http://www.seaswirlofmystic.com/

Sep 13, 2011
groaker in Southern New England

Main Street, Our Town, Ellsworth, Maine.

A bowl of crab stew and a slice of banana cream pie at Helen's makes a fine lunch (or occasionally, in my case at least, a mid-afternoon snack). And you forgot to mention Giant Sub, or perhaps that was intentional. Both have decent, reasonably priced food for families with kids, and seniors on a budget will be quite comfortable at Helen's.

Jun 25, 2010
groaker in Northern New England

Results from a long weekend around Belfast, ME

Well, Pat, I'll beat you by a month, since I am leaving Sunday for a 6 day visit to the Belfast area. Frozen Pudding is one of my favorite flavors of ice cream, and it's pretty much available throughout Massachusetts too. I will check around and let you know if I find any in Belfast and environs.

May 18, 2010
groaker in Northern New England

Best fried clams in New England

junescook, thanks for the tip on Salmon Run. I don't get out to the Berkshires very often, but when I do I am always looking for new places to eat.

Lenny's is fun, and I've always found the food there to be quite good and reasonably priced, although I have never tried the fried oysters either there or at Max's. I have eaten at a couple of Max's places, sometimes with great results, sometimes not so much.

May 08, 2010
groaker in Northern New England

Best fried clams in New England

Thanks for the directions, Pass. I like Darby's and usually have at least one dinner and one breakfast there while I am in the area, although I have often found their dinner entrees to be somewhat under-seasoned.

Is Capt. Nemo's new? The only Bass Harbor restaurants that I can recall off the top of my head are XYZ and the Seafood Ketch.

-----
Seafood Ketch
McMullin Ave, Bass Harbor, ME 04653

May 07, 2010
groaker in Northern New England

Best fried clams in New England

Well, I've had fried clams at a number of the places mentioned in this thread (love Jordan's, love the Clam Box, hated Bagaduce), but Tracey's is new to me. As it happens, I will be making my yearly week-long pilgrimage to Belfast later this month. If a person happened to find himself on Route 1 North headed in the general direction of Sullivan, and that person had a mind to end up at Tracey's, how would said person proceed?

I notice that Connecticut is getting no love in this discussion. The single best serving of whole belly fried clams I have ever eaten was at Johnny Ad's in Old Saybrook a couple of years ago. The clams were so large that season that the cashier was warning everyone who ordered whole bellies that they were "really big", and she wasn't kidding. Huge, plump, juicy, and tender. I've not found any like that again there or anywhere else since.

Another spot in the Nutmeg State that I love for fried seafood is the Sea Swirl in Mystic. I've had occasion to make a couple of trips to the CT shoreline in the last month, and have managed to fit in 4 lunches at Sea Swirl. The fried scallops were spectacular - large, juicy, tender, and some of the sweetest scallops I've ever had. The fried clams were not large, but very tasty nonetheless. My favorite, the fried oysters, were exemplary as usual. Unfortunately, the new menu item, Asian Shrimp, was a miss for me. The fried shrimp themselves were fine, but the Hunan style sauce was right out of a bottle and tasted too much of thickeners.

May 07, 2010
groaker in Northern New England

best blueberry pie in Maine??

If by "wild blueberries" you mean does Stanley go up into the hills, find some blueberry bushes that nobody owns, and pick them himself, then I would say no - he is rather old for that. I do know that they buy local fruit when it is in season, because the last time I was there Stanley had just purchased 20 or 30 pounds of blackberries. Priscilla also uses the fruit to make "Jamly" (Jam. Jelly. Get it?), which she puts up in jars that you can buy.

best blueberry pie in Maine??

All I can tell you is that pie is my favorite dessert, and Priscilla's is my favorite pie. But pie, like many foods, is subjective. Some people prefer a double crust on their fruit pie (me, for instance), others prefer a crumb or whipped cream topping. You will just have to pay a visit to Priscilla and Stanley and judge for yourself, and then add your yea or nay to the board. Only way to build a consensus.

Need to buy cocoa powder

I get my cocoa from my favorite coffee supplier, Dean's Beans. Like the coffee, the cocoa is organic and fair trade. I generally get two 12 oz bags of cocoa at $4.00 each every couple of months when I re-order 3 or 4 pounds of coffee, but the cocoa is also available in a 5 pound size for $25.

http://www.deansbeans.com/coffee/prod...

A sad tale - Bayside Restaurant Westport, MA

If only Marguerite's would move into the Bayside, you'd have one hell of a dining destination.

Jul 09, 2009
groaker in Southern New England

Results from a long weekend around Belfast, ME

When I was up that way a couple of weeks ago I made the 25 minute drive inland on Route 3 to Liberty, in order to sample John's at the source. I had a scoop of Coconut and a scoop of Quadruple Chocolate, both of which were excellent. I could taste the cocoa in the QC, which is how I judge chocolate ice cream.

For years I have wanted to ask Priscilla what shortening she uses in her pie crust, but I haven't had the nerve for fear she will tell me that it's lard. Knowledge may beget enlightenment, but ignorance is bliss!

Jul 08, 2009
groaker in Northern New England

A sad tale - Bayside Restaurant Westport, MA

I'm sorry to hear all this. My SO and I had a late afternoon meal on the terrace there about 4 years ago, and I remember it as being pretty good food in a lovely and serene setting. I also appreciated their attempt to practice sustainability as much as possible. In fact, we have kept Bayside in mind as a decent alternative if we ever find the wait at The Back Eddy to be unendurable (hasn't happened yet). A great pity that Bayside has slipped so much. Gosh, next you'll be telling me that Marguerite's has gone downhill!

Jul 08, 2009
groaker in Southern New England

Midcoast Maine Meanderings

Yep, it was when I passed it last week. I just didn't have time to stop in this trip.

Midcoast Maine Meanderings

Spent a couple of days in Belfast, Maine last week, and here are some notes on the places I managed to get to while I was there. Most of these have been mentioned before on this board, but heck, it never hurts to have another opinion, especially if it's mine ;-) A warning, however - this is an absurdly long post considering the few places mentioned in it.

Darby's (Belfast) - Breakfast

I've eaten dinner at Darby's a number of times in the past, but this was my first time for breakfast. The home made corned beef hash was excellent, and the accompanying eggs over easy were exactly that, with nice runny yolks. And I like a chef who knows to serve hash crisp without even being asked. Orange juice, coffee, hash, 2 eggs, English muffin - about $10.

Bagaduce Lunch (Brooksville) - Late Lunch

Bagaduce has often been praised here by posters whose opinions I respect, so it pains me to report that my first time visit was a major disappointment. I wanted to sample a representative selection of their food, so I ordered a combo basket of fried clams and fried scallops, which came with french fries and a tiny paper cup of cole slaw. I had seen raves here about the onion rings, and I do love me some good onion rings, so I also ordered a small side of those. Sadly, the scallops were tough and had a strange bitter taste. I threw most of them away. The clams were OK, but nothing special. They were whole belly, but the bellies were so small that it almost didn't matter, and so the clams seemed more like strips. They were a little more chewy than I would have liked, but I ate most of them. The fries were above average, crispy on the outside and pre-seasoned with what appeared to be coarse sea salt. The slaw was, well, slaw. Clearly the star here was the onion rings. A thin crunchy shell covering very thinly sliced onions, they would be called onion strings in some other places. My "small" side of rings would easily serve as a side dish for two adults and a small child. I can't even imagine what a large size looks like. I would go out of my way, if I happened to be in the area anyway, to get some of those rings for a snack, but I wouldn't again bother driving the extra 40 minutes past Just Barb's for the fried seafood at Bagaduce. Maybe I should have stuck with the much lauded fish sandwich. Clams/scallops combo basket with small side of onion rings and a bottle of root beer - $29 and change.

Priscilla's Pies (Bucksport)

On the way back to Belfast, I somewhat assuaged my disappointment re: lunch by stopping at Priscilla's for a still warm blackberry pie. For those who are not familiar with Priscilla, she and her husband Stanley have been baking and selling pies for nigh on to 57 years, first at a restaurant they used to own in Bucksport, and now out of their home just north of town. Priscilla is a wizard with double crust fruit pies, and uses fresh fruit for the fillings. She also makes other kinds, such as pecan and pumpkin, but I can say nothing about those, since I can't seem to get past the blackberry, blueberry, apple, strawberry, etc. Not all varieties are available every day, but if you like pie I guarantee you wouldn't be unhappy with whatever she made the day you stopped by. I now have to get my pie the day I am leaving for home, or the afternoon before at the earliest, because my SO was becoming furious when I would show up at home with only half a pie. She got me back good this time though. We are having company this Sunday, so she made me put the entire pie in the freezer to save it for that occasion. Now, every time I get some ice cubes, that blackberry pie sits there and taunts me. How long is it until Sunday, anyway? Priscilla's is on Route 1 North just before the True Value Hardware store on the northern edge of Bucksport. If the 4 foot high A-frame sign proclaiming "PIES" is at the foot of the driveway, pull up to the house, go up to the door, and ring the bell. Stanley or someone else will let you in, and you will find Priscilla settin' at the kitchen table. It's like going to your grandmama's to pick up a pie, except it will cost you $17.00, and well worth every penny.

Chase's Daily (Belfast) - Lunch

I am in the Belfast area for a few days at least once, and usually twice, each year. There are two things I do religiously: get a pie from Priscilla, and eat at Chase's Daily. Chase's Daily is a combination Greengrocer/Bakery/Vegetarian Restaurant housed in a beautiful old gallery-like space on main Street in Belfast. The business is family owned and run, and features seasonal produce grown on the Chase farm. If all vegetarian restaurants served food this good, I would gladly abstain from meat more often. This time I had the Quattro Formaggio pizza, with a side of the daily greens. The pizza consisted of an impossibly thin crust, charred black in places on the bottom without tasting burned, and topped with red sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Fresh Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, and Tallegio cheeses, along with fresh basil. Now I'm going to say something that will make you raise your eyebrows: this was some of the best pizza I have ever eaten. Note that I once lived in NYC for over a dozen years, and have had pizza in Boston's North End as well as at the famous New Haven pizzeria's. I can only say that if you consider yourself a pizza aficionado, and you find yourself within an hour's drive of Belfast when Chase's Daily is open, you owe it to yourself to check out their pizza. Go ahead, try it and then tell me I'm full of hot air, I dare you. As for the side dish, when I asked what the greens of the day were, the waitress replied, "Happy Rich". (You just said something like, "Huh?", didn't you? So did I.) Turns out Happy Rich is sort of like a cross between Broccoli Rabe and Broccolini, but with no bitterness. Here it was blanched, then sauteed with garlic in olive oil in a very hot pan until the leaves blackened. It was so good that I bought a bunch from the produce section to take home, along with some chewy dark chocolate cookies containing dried cherries. For dessert I had a sour cherry tart with oat flour crust, very tasty indeed. Chase's daily is open all year and serves lunch Mon-Sat, dinner on Friday evenings, and brunch on Sunday. 10" pizza, side of greens, cherry tart, and iced mocha - about $23.

Belfast Co-op

After lunch at Chase's Daily, I walked around the corner to the Belfast Co-op and bought a quart of locally grown organic strawberries. The co-op is typical of it's kind in that it carries a good selection of natural and organic products, including produce, cheeses, meats, health and beauty aids, coffee beans, etc. They also make fresh soups, sandwiches, and salads, and have a wide variety of breads and other baked goods. The co-op is a great place to pick up fixin's for a picnic. They even carry a nice selection of beer and wine!

Speaking of strawberries and other produce, it's strawberry season right now in Maine, and along many roads there are hand printed signs for local growers. The growers are trying to get the berries to market as fast as possible before they rot due to the wet weather. The constant rain and lack of sunshine have apparently caused many Spring fruits and vegetables to be in short supply this year. I read that there is virtually no fresh hay available in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and upstate New York because there haven't been enough consecutive sunny days to dry it.

For any of you foolish enough to have a hankerin' to get into the restaurant business, there was a sign in the window of a real estate office in Belfast indicating that Just Barb's is for sale.

To those heading up to Maine - the rain doesn't seem to have cut down on tourist season much. As I was driving south through Wiscasset last Friday around 2 in the afternoon, there was already a line of 15 to 20 people at Red's, and the northbound cars were bumper to bumper from Wiscasset center to the Sea Basket. And folks ask me why I usually prefer to go in late May and early November.

groaker

Boston to Midcoast maine, any must stops?

I believe you must be referring to Morse's Sauerkraut. Good stuff.

Chase's Daily in Belfast, ME

Tragically, Chase's stopped serving breakfast on weekdays a couple of Summers ago. I was, and still am, disconsolate.

Apr 09, 2009
groaker in Northern New England

Upscale Dining in Back Bay?

Others have mentioned the Oak Room, and I heartily second that suggestion. Located in the Copley Plaza Hotel, the Oak Room is one of the last spectacularly ornate hotel dining rooms, reminiscent of the 30's and 40's. If your husband is truly a traditionalist, there is not a better meat and potatoes restaurant to be found. It's expensive, but the quality of the food, which is served by attentive tuxedoed waiters, is worth the cost for a special occasion. Buy your husband a veal porterhouse, along with some potatoes au gratin, creamed spinach, and a good bottle of red wine, and he will feel like Diamond Jim Brady.

Oct 21, 2008
groaker in Greater Boston Area

Anyone tried Salsa Restaurant in New Milford, CT? (supposedly Santa Fe-style Mexican)

I get Chimayo chile powder from Da Gift Basket, www.dagiftbasket.com. An unfortunate name, but the service is excellent, and they have a terrific variety of products at reasonable prices. I currently have bags of Chimayo medium red, Chimayo hot red, Hatch green, and Chipotle chile powders, as well as a bag of Mexican oregano (no, really, it's just oregano) in my cupboard, all of which I ordered from their web site. They also ship frozen Hatch green chiles.

Jun 02, 2008
groaker in Southern New England

Need recs for Belfast, ME for next week. What's still open?

Does the restaurant stay open after the campground closes for the season? I believe the campground closed last month.

Need recs for Belfast, ME for next week. What's still open?

I will definitely check out Bay Wraps. I have done takeout from the co-op. They also carry my favorite coffee (Dean's Beans), and some really tasty bakery goodies.

Need recs for Belfast, ME for next week. What's still open?

Thanks for the tips, MF (no slight intended). Funny that you should pick this time to respond to a post I made a year ago, because as it happens I will be in Belfast again for 4 nights next week! I checked out the Edge when I was there this Spring, but didn't have a chance to eat at the restaurant. Great looking place though. So, another offspring for the patrons at 3Tides to ooh and ahhh over, huh? I guess I'll have to check out that new beer another time.

New microbrewery in Mid-coast Maine

I'll be the judge of that, since I will be spending several nights in Belfast during the week of 11/15. And I am a beer drinker :-)

Best food all over New England?

I'm ROFL at all the recent responses to a query that was originally posted 7 YEARS AGO! Do you suppose Jen is still following the thread? ;-) Funny thing is, I've picked up a lot of useful info from this months posts.

groaker

Coromandel Milford Review

Milford...MA? NH? CT? ME?

Tricia's Tropi-Grille

New England is a pretty big area. Would either of you care to clue the rest of us in on where this place is located? Thanks.

Help for breakfast place - Wrentham ?

James' Roadside Cafe has gone out of business. The King Street Cafe, just off I-495 at the King Street exit in Franklin (the next exit north of the Wrentham Village Outlets) serves a wide variety of breakfast dishes until 3 p.m. My favorite is the Steak Tips Benedict. Great home fries.

Mar 07, 2007
groaker in Greater Boston Area

Need recs for Belfast, ME for next week. What's still open?

I noticed the Twilight Cafe when I was in Belfast last year and thought it looked interesting, but when I called last week to check their hours I got one of those phone company messages saying the number had been disconnected. They didn't make it, I guess.

Need recs for Belfast, ME for next week. What's still open?

Thanks - just looked at their website. So many restaurants, so little time.