Ohhh that chicken pot pie looks heavenly. I love CPPs. The hot dog and fries look pretty great too–who can argue with Eddie Munster?
Our drive to Wiscasset, Maine did not achieve our goals. We wanted to see the ocean, but we also wanted to make faster progress than following the fractal coastline closely would provide. So I guessed that US 1 would provide a good balance, because driving Highway 1 in California had been so superbly scenic. I was quite wrong; US 1 hardly ever showed us water. Mostly we saw stores; in some places, we saw trees sloping down in a way that indicated that there was coast nearby and beach turnoffs. At one point near Portland, I declared an intention to take the next beach turnoff, so that we would see at least some coast before dark – but we did not see another beach turnoff before Wiscasset. In retrospect, we should have taken the interstate; we still wouldn’t have seen much ocean, but we would have seen more countryside before dark.
Our GPS led us astray on our way to Red’s Eats; there are apparently two places that can be addressed as “41 Main Street, Wiscasset”, and the one our GPS picked was an abandoned building out in the woods that Lori described as a “chainsaw-killer-in-the-woods” sort of place. Google Maps pointed us to the same location. Finally, I checked Roadfood.com for the address, and tried the cross street that it gave, and that brought us into town.
I was looking forward to the lobster roll at Red’s Eats a lot; various Roadfood sources credited it as one of the best lobster rolls, and its lobster roll had been featured in the Rick Sebak documentary Sandwiches You Will Like. I’ve been a bit wary of lobster since a bad tomalley incident in my teens, so I was eager to try an acclaimed lobster roll and have my lobster prejudices reversed.
It’s hard to get a good picture of the lights with the iPhone, but this does capture something of the spirit of the place. There was no line.
I had an impression that one of the Roadfood books had spoken well of the onion rings, so we ordered them and the lobster roll:
Then came the moment of truth: how would I respond to this lobster roll of legend? A drum roll builds the suspense… then comes the verdict: the lobster roll was nasty. It tasted like old rubberbands soaked in brine. We ate at it for a while, because it was praised and because we’d paid a fair amount for it, but we ended up throwing it away. I didn’t know whether this was a rare bad lobster roll, a change in quality since the former owner died, a doom pronounced upon late-night lobster rolls, or just a distaste for lobster in general.
The atmosphere was unpleasant as well – it was thickly swarmed with mosquitoes. We judged the crisp onion rings fine but not outstanding – but perhaps I judged them so harshly because of the horrible mosquitoes.
For dessert, we saw a whoopie pie on the menu that boasted of being Martha Stewart’s preferred whoopie pie. We hadn’t had one before, so we bought it. Now we know: whoopie pies are the same thing as what are called “gobs” in Western Pennsylvania, except that gobs are somewhat smaller and substantially cheaper for the amount you get. I don’t know whether there’s a zone between Western Pennsylvania and New England that has neither gobs nor whoopie pies or a zone that has both gobs and whoopie pies.
Next: another answer to the lobster question.
Thank you so much for all your kind words; I really appreciate knowing that people enjoy my reports.
Friday, July 9
Roadfood.com didn’t offer us many breakfast places near Boston (only Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe, who didn’t answer their phone), so I picked a breakfast place from Urbanspoon: Cappy’s Trackside Kitchen. Cappy’s turned out to be a little restaurant with a train theme.
I ordered the shrimp, crab, and mozzarella omelet, which was very mild-flavored. I’m used to crab being mild, but both this and the crab sandwich I had the night before were almost flavorless.
Lori ordered the caramel apple pancakes. I found them a bit too sweet, but they were pretty good.
Our strongest memory of the restaurant was the waitress, who was a young woman with an accent like a gangster’s moll, sporting day-glo pink nail polish and wearing a t-shirt and track shorts. My initial guesses about her were wrong, though: she talked knowledgeably with us about our iPad and discussed her experiences with her iPhone 4.
Up next: Plimoth Plantation
BTW – That was an impressive number of stops with Chris…not sure I could handle that many!
That surprises me!
I figured that I was in the farm leagues of Roadfooding, and you were among the pros. When we visited western Kentucky, Louis mentioned that when Carolina Bob had visited a few weeks prior, they had visited sixteen restaurants in two days. When we toured the North Shore with Chris, he mentioned that buffetbuster had visited just previously, and they had covered twenty Roadfood-listed restaurants in a weekend. By comparison, we covered just over twenty Roadfood-listed restaurants in a whole week. And buffetbuster has told stories of being impressed by your eating capacity. So it surprises me that you’re impressed by the number of stops.
It was much easier do that many stops because the three of us shared food everywhere, and didn’t eat a lot at each place. I’m glad of Chris’s willingness to share with us.
From a standpoint of trying to check off as many Roadfood-listed restaurants as possible (which is not my only motivation, but is a motivation for me), New England is a great region, because there are so many Roadfood-listed ice cream stops you can make between full meals. (Though many of the New England ice cream stops were very generous with their portions. I joked that ordering a kid-size ice cream cone meant that you would be handed a cone the size of a small child.)
After some antiquing in nearby Woodbury, we arrived at Dottie’s Diner at 2:30, half an hour before closing time. (We would have done a lot more antiquing if we hadn’t called ahead.) Dottie’s may be the only place that we visited on this trip that had “Diner” in the name but didn’t have any stainless steel showing on the exterior.
Inside, though, it looks completely dineresque.
We were pretty full and we had plans for dessert, so we split an order of the chicken pie. (Dottie’s offers both a traditional chicken pie with just chicken, or a pie with chicken and vegetables; we ordered the version with vegetables.) This was superb. The crust was crisp, just softening under gravy. The filling was sumptuous and savory. The pie brought back fond childhood memories of my great-aunt Lois’s chicken pot pie; she would have used a single biscuit crust instead of a double pie crust, but the filling is much the same, pure comfort food.
The mashed potatoes were also very rich and savory, with warm broad flavors of garlic and butter. The vegetables were excellent, but perhaps overshadowed by the chicken pie and the mashed potatoes. This was definitely one of our favorite dishes.
We had made plans for dessert from the moment that we put Dottie’s on our itinerary, because the Sterns’ book 500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late mentioned the donut bread pudding. Mm, donut bread pudding. How could that be anything but decadent and delightful?
Unfortunately, I found it too rich and heavy; I would have preferred a bread pudding made from bread. My theory is this: if you feel that a cake donut is improved by being dunked in milk, then the donut bread pudding might be a winner for you.
We followed up lunch at Dottie’s with more lengthy shopping at a nearby antique store. The proprietor was watching the World Cup game, which led to this interchange:
“Could you open this case for me, please? I could wait for a commercial, if that would be more convenient.”
“There are no commercials. This is a real sport.”
Fennel and orange peel sausage? I would eat that!
It warms my heart to know that people are enjoying my report. Thank you all.
I guess your stop at Jiggers was before its recent legal troubles. I have really enjoyed this report and look forward to each new addition.
Yes, we visited Jiggers on July 10, and it seems they got shut down in mid-August.
I’ve been to just about all of the places you mention in this report. Some a few times. I haven’t been able to take a New England vacation for a few years. Thank you for letting live vicariously through yours! I can’t wait for the rest!
I’m trying to finish up this report before the New Mexico tour, because I fear that tour will give me too many other things I hope to report on. I have two days left, but those cover nine restaurants – it’s even odds as to whether I’ll finish the report in time!
We bought a maple soda, some maple cream candies, and a cider donut. The maple soda was a fascinating flavor. My usual experience of maple syrup is that the flavor is about eight parts sweet to one part maple. (Yes, I should experiment with darker maple syrups). By contrast, this was about three parts maple to one part sweet. Very strongly maple, not very sweet. I liked it a lot.
The maple cream cookies were about two parts sweet to one part maple, which is still far more maple flavor than my usual maple syrup experience.
The cider donut was to me just a donut. I didn’t taste much cider in it.
Stephen Rushmore Jr.
Chris Ayers had recommended New Haven apizza as a must-eat on our trip, so we sought that out. We had some more GPS vexations on this leg, but when we made it to New Haven’s Little Italy, we knew it:
Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana is one of the oldest pizza restaurants in America, and originated the New Haven-style thin crust apizza. My belief is that reasonable people may disagree about which of the famous New Haven apizza places is the best – it was at least not clear to me from my research. But Frank Pepe’s is the progenitor of all the other pizza places, so we chose it for the extra dose of history.
I’m not sure what I had been expecting, but I don’t think that I had expected a restaurant so well-lit and sparsely-decorated. It was much brighter than, say, Santarpio’s.
Even the cooking area around the coal-fired oven has a lot of space:
They served drinks from the nearby bottler Foxon Park, so we shared a bottle of gassosa because I didn’t know what “gassosa” meant. Now I know: it’s lemon-lime. I don’t think that I could distinguish this from Sprite or Seven-Up in a blind tasting.
For the pizza, we got the fresh tomato pie, because a) we’re strongly in favor of seasonal foods and b) I couldn’t talk Lori into a clam pizza. It was very good, thin and fairly crisp with bright summer tomato-and-basil flavors. Honestly, I’m not a pizza connoisseur; I’d be hard-pressed to compare this pizza to Santarpio’s or other good pizzas. But it was certainly an excellent pizza, and it deserves to have the fans it does.
We brought the iPad into the restaurant, and it sparked a lot of conversation. (I’m an Apple employee, so I’m significantly more gracious about talking about the iPad with strangers than I am on other topics.) In particular, this got us into a conversation with our waitress that started with the iPad and led into a discussion of our Roadfooding plans. She recommended that for dessert, we should go next door to Libby’s Italian Cookies. Lori is particularly glad that we got that recommendation.
I got the baba au rhum. I’ve only had baba au rhum once before at a Pittsburgh Italian bakery, and this preparation was far more decorative than what I’d had there. But to me, it did not taste very much of rum, but just of cake and custard. Lori disagreed with me; she felt it tasted very clearly of rum. It was good, but if I were to return, I would choose one of the many other good-looking products they had.
Lori had a similar judgement of her chocolate gelato; it was good, but not a standout among all the outstanding ice cream we’d had this week.
We also got a couple of apricot dolce, which the website describes as “A butter based cookie topped with apricot filling, dipped in colored chocolate.” Again, Lori and I were judging things very differently. I took o,29,600654.002001001001001002001002001001001001001001001001001001001001004001001001001001001001001001001001002001002001001001001002002,41,103190,22.214.171.124
611711,611497,611497,2010-09-11 21:54:26.340000000,Re:White Castle: A New Era?”
What an awesome thread! Fantastic!
Many breakfast places in and around Chicago have the German or Dutch Baby Pancakes…there are several names for the same oven baked, 30-minutes required, fruit topped, etc…My boys love ’em and yours looked really good!
It’s funny, we’ve eaten at every restaurant in Wilmington BUT Dot’s…just a glaring omission.
Those are some great pie shots!
Looking forward to meeting you and Lori in ABQ!
BTW – That was an impressive number of stops with Chris…not sure I could handle that many!
Thanks for the report; I’ve really enjoyed it. The strawberry ice cream looks great, but I’d really like to try that cider sorbet.
Can’t wait to read your report from New Mexico! [:D]
July 4 began with Lori going to Mass. The Mass Times iPhone app made it much easier to locate a convenient church. We ended up at Our Lady of Lourdes in Whitehouse Station, NJ. While she went to mass, I took a walk around through the riding-mower neighborhood. This sort of neighborhood is basically human-maintained deer habitat, but I still thought it was nifty to find a well-preserved deer track:
I took this picture to demonstrate what I mean by “riding-mower neighborhood”, and then realized that the house was associated with a Christmas tree farm behind it. It doesn’t really change my characterization of the neighborhood to say that it contained a Christmas tree farm.
Lori strongly prefers to eat breakfast food for her first meal. But I didn’t see a Roadfood-listed breakfast place convenient to our route. So instead, we went to Original Pancake House, because Michael Stern had once mentioned it as his favorite chain restaurant, and I had not been to one.
I ordered the Dutch baby pancake, because I’ve only had them rarely. I might have enjoyed it more if I weren’t expecting it to taste like a pancake; compared to a pancake, it had a very eggy taste, and it had the high-gluten skin of popovers or puff pastry. The fruit that filled it was excellent.
Lori had the Independence Day special: pancakes with strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream. Her pancakes were light and fluffy, and her fruit was very good.
I was impressed with what the Original Pancake House had for kids visiting:
I have since learned that there are Original Pancake House restaurants in the Pittsburgh area. We’ll consider checking them out.
Great report and I have enjoyed reading it. I love the original Pancake house(the original is here in Portland, Oregon) and there is also one in nearby Salem. Waiting eagerly for more.
A few comments again…
1. Nancypalooza: The popovers worked nicely with my chicken salad. I don’t know how they’d work for everything, but it was a good match for what I had.
2. I was “yarnverwhelmed” at the amazing yarn store. If you enjoy fiber (of the crafty kind), you really must go! Amazing place! 🙂
3. Having Dr. Mike’s and Herrell’s in the same day was pretty much sinful. They were both soooooooooooooooooooooooo good. I have no idea how the team who picked the best ice cream in New England did it — I admire their work and research! 🙂
4. I have no idea about the political candidate’s agenda, or anything about him, but I will say that he really was nice to everyone in the restaurant.
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