After our lovely day exploring Camden, we went back to Camden for dinner — to one of Jeff and Theresa’s favorite places, Francine. These were the most unusual and delicious mussels I think I’ve ever had.
Les dorkages, all cleaned up:
A great highball that was a twist on a Dark and Stormy, but with peach, blackberry and some herbs I can’t remember at the moment:
Delicious and so refreshing I might have downed it in seconds.
Here’s a look at the dining room from my POV:
To complete the oyster requirement of the day, we ordered the special oysters.
These were my second favorite oysters on the entire trip, after the Damariscotta ones at King Eider’s Pub. They came with a mignonette two kinds of radishes, one daikon, the other I can’t remember. Also, there was lime, ginger and cilantro.
Theresa quite liked the music, so she asked the waitress to write it down for her to remember.
Unfortunately, that was the name of the album, so we don’t know which song, exactly. But here’s a listen to one of them: Gotan Project Tango 3.0.
We got a nice chenin blanc from the Loire to go with our oysters and first course. Les Pouches Saumur:
Our appetizers. Jeff got the grilled quail with cornbread salad, bacon and blackberry.
Here are those killer mussels. Greg and I each got them. They’re made with lime, butter and — of all things — pine:
(More on that in a moment.)
Here’s Theresa’s completely delicious corn soup with black trumpet mushrooms and basil oil:
So here’s another look at the mussels. See the little pine leaves sticking out of the pot?
I can’t remember for sure the order, but I believe the waitress told us that the chef gets the butter nice and hot, then sears the pine, then squeezes lime to deglaze. Then he cooks the mussels on top of all that.
I think, anyway. But regardless, the result was a lovely caramelization on the bottom of the pan and an intense woodsy, floral, hard-to-place aroma and taste in the broth. Wow!
For our main courses, we went red. Novy Parsons’ Vineyard Syrah from the Russian River Valley.
Here is Jeff’s lobster with farro, haricot vets, tomato and chanterelles:
Theresa’s steak frites, which are garlic-herb.
This is the one dish, she says, that is always on the menu. And it’s so good.
Greg’s pan-roasted chicken with kohlrabi, black trumpets and pickled carrots:
And this monstrosity is a double-cut pork chop:
Over grits with greens and a tomato salsa:
It was divine.
I love Francine! Here’s a few more shots, before we headed home to devour Theresa’s sinfully good blueberry cobbler.
The 411 on Francine: 55 Chestnut St., Camden. 207-230-0083. francinebistro.com