Five stars is inadequate to award the Hartstone Inn. The finest restaurant on mid-coast Maine from Boothbay Harbor to Bar Harbor in my three years going there and experiencing many fine meals. Last night we had our farewell to Maine dinner there, as we will not be returning to Maine for several years. In my twelve globetrotting years, the past three in Camden, I would reluctantly place that village on the top of my list. (See my book Make The World Your Second Home if you are interested in my further meaning.) Reluctantly because we have been satisfied with all of our temporary second homes and I have avoided ranking them. But my vote is in for Camden...and the Hartstone.
We took the 6PM a la Carte Menu. (There is also an 8PM seating for a full five course fixed price menue.) Our meal began in the sitting room with Martinis seved in arte deco glasses and a small toasted tasty. The seating on the enclosed veranda is our favorite place in the milder months. The meal began with a summer Gaspacho that included Maine Lobster alongside a delightful Cucumber Panini cut to just the right size and served warm. Wonderful balance. The Gazpacho is not my favorite soup having grown up Irish and being used to hot, lusty soups. But this Gaz. was perfect...just the right spices, served in a chilled bowl and the fresh tomatoes bursting with flavor.
Elysee had the Cajun Seared Beef Tenderloin, oven roasted Tomatoes and blue cheese, on the side. I had the Sauteed pork chop with roasted red onion, basil a fresh mozzarella, perfectly prepared with a delicious slightly carmelized sauce.
The wine list is extensive and fairly priced, but we opted for a glass of Ca. Sauv. Blanc (Elysee) and I an Argentine Cab. Sauv. Very adequate.
Deserts were a $5 additional (don't know why but I suspect that once finished with this fine meal many diners are sated). The choices were: Grand Marnier Creme Brulee with candied Orange Peal and Lemon Madeleine (which we each had) or Chocolate Ganache tart with ice cream and salted caramel or Hartstone sorbet trio. We lingered with expresso but the 8 PM seating was soon arriving.
The table is set with attention to detail; small flowers, china pieces and so forth and the music (50s crooners mostly with just the right modulation, and the lighting was adjusted with attention to atmosphere and showing of the wall art. Everything has a professional attention to detail as one might expect from Michael Salmon CIA.