Weeks before we got to Maine, I had an email from Cousin Theresa: “Some friends of ours are buzzing about Nebo Lodge on North Haven. I’m not sure if that is still in your plans but thought you might want to check it out.” She was pleased when we told her we’d already planned a visit. Then, Jan and Suzanne, some friend’s we met at Rory and Chris’ wedding, also recommended Nebo — and especially the lamb chops, which Jan couldn’t stop raving about. So by the time we sat down for drinks and dinner, we were primed for a good meal indeed — and Nebo did not disappoint. If only it weren’t an 8-hour drive and 1 1/2-hour ferry ride away, we’d be there all the time.
All dried off, showered and coiffed, we went to the bar for a cocktail. Greg had a martini. I had a French 75:
The bar and lounge area of the restaurant is small and cozy, with a big brick fireplace at one end and a wooden bar with a beautiful copper sink at the other.
There are fresh flowers all over the inn, and these mismatched vintage tablecloths are also in the dining room. But first, the boys at the bar:
Tough guys, with flannel shirts and Down East accents. Nice contrast with the delicate flowers and girly tablecloths. We move into the dining room:
The table next to us (and some of that scaffolding):
We start, naturally, with oysters.
The oysters are from the island, and they’re gorgeous. (We were also told that the oysters harvested here are sold to Whole Foods Market up and down the East Coast — so look for them!)
Chef Amanda Hallowell, who grew up on the island, did some traveling and came back, tries to go as local as possible, and gets most of her meat, fish and produce from the island and its environs. This salad, with arugula and tomatoes from the Turner Farm on the island, sang to us:
The arugula was bright and peppery, the tomatoes sweet and the bread crunchy. So good. (And lease excuse the photos. It was so superdark in there.)
Wayne Browns smoked mackerel, parmesan cracker, fresh cukes and lemon-tarragon creme fraiche:
Greg adores mackerel, so this was more his dish. But I liked the tastes I had — very well done.
I know this looks rather a mess, but it was so good. Filet of flounder, with fresh corn, celeriac, capers, white wine and sauteed summer squash:
It was just what we needed after a rainy, windy day.
And then, believe it or not, I went for the meatloaf. With garlic mashed potatoes and frizzled cabbage.
And I’m sorry to say, that while the sage leaves are beautiful as a garnish, I really should have turned the plate around to show you the meatloaf. I can tell you this: It was so rich and satisfying, that even though we were staying on an island with a ferry ride in the future, instead of sending my uneaten portion away, I saved some for lunch the next day. (We had a little fridge in our room.)
For dessert, there were a number of sorbets and granitas to choose among. But also, having felt the chill of fall in the air, we decided to go with the first of the apples crisp with Bee Box honey ice cream:
And also a strawberry-balsamic ice cream:
Now I’m going on a little tangent: When we went shopping at Beth’s Farm Market two days earlier, Greg bought a canteloupe, which he cut up and we picked on for breakfast. (In fact, my breakfast Tuesday and Wednesday mornings was melon with leftover lobster salad from Theresa’s great lobster BLTs.) The canteloupe was so flavorful, sweet and juicy that none of us could even believe it. It was declared among the best melons ever tasted by any of us.
So all through the meal, we’d been peppering our waitress — who came to North Haven via Brooklyn after meeting her husband, a playwright who was from the island — about where the food came from: Which farm? What fishery? Etc. So naturally, we also asked about the sorbets for dessert, we asked where the fruit came from.
Imagine our surprise when she came back and said the canteloupe for the canteloupe-mint granita came from Beth’s on the mainland.
And it was every bit as delicious as that melon.
We loved our meal at Nebo. The room was cozy, and full of laughter. Our waitress was friendly and told us all kinds of stories about the island — from how few people live there year round (about 300) to how she trained for a marathon by running just the few roads on the island (over and over and over).
And of course the food — homey, delicious and real.