Rockland Restaurant Dishes: 5 You Must Try!
UPDATE: This article is a few years old now and, as things do, these restaurants have changed! For more up-to-date info on Rockland restaurants visit our Rockland Restaurants page. For a comprehensive and more current list of midcoast restaurants, check out our Midcoast Restaurants resource!
I know what you think I’m going to say about Rockland restaurant recommendations: eat lobster. It’s undeniable that lobster is one of the most exciting attractions in Rockland, Maine — and why not? We’re at the epicenter of the lobstering community here.
Whether you’re looking for a break from eating your vacation quota of lobster, or you aren’t a lobster fan (gasp) or you just want to find out what else our chefs can do, start here.
Rocking Breakfast in Rockland
Perhaps we’re biased toward our neighbors at The Home Kitchen Cafe, but we’re not the only ones who think this beloved Rockland restaurant serves up one of the most amazing breakfasts around. In fact, in 2014, Yankee Magazine called them the Best Breakfast in New England.
The Home Kitchen Cafe serves up an impressive menu of seafood-inspired options. In fact, they have an entire menu just for lobster. However, Dan’s favorite dish and the one suggested to us by co-owner Susan Schiro has nothing to do with lobster. On your next visit, check out the Huevos Rancheros.
Susan concedes that it’s “an unusual dish for Maine where most folks expect to find traditonal New England dishes.” You won’t be disappointed, though, with its 2 poached eggs finished in a spicy home made ranchero sauce, which is then topped with pepperjack cheese over house-made black beans with house-chopped salsa, cilantro, sour cream and avocado. As if that isn’t enough, it’s served on the Home Kitchen Cafe’s fresh hand made corn tortilla. But don’t take Susan’s word for it. Heck, don’t even take our word for it. Susan adds, “Folks tell us this is the best Huevos east of Mexico. It is authentic in its flavors and only features fresh ingredients.”
Mouthwatering on Main Street
(UPDATE: Unfortunately, 3Crow closed on 11/13/2016 – visit the owners at 40Paper in Camden)
Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Sadler House is our perennial favorite and oft-recommended Rockland restaurant, 3 Crow. If you’re not already familiar with 3Crow, Down East Magazine lauded it as one of Maine’s best new restaurants in 2015. As busy as he is running this spectacular local spot, co-owner and executive chef Josh Hixon still had the time to send me his own pick for a must-try dish, and it doesn’t disappoint.
“I’d have to say that our winter signature dish is probably the Ramen. We make a rich smoked chicken stock with Maine kelp, pickle wild Maine mushrooms, turn local nappa cabbage into delicious kimchi, and slow roast pork for a little over 8 hours. Then we combine it with fresh high-alkaline noodles from artisan noodle maker Sun Noodle, a soft poached local egg, and top it with some scallions, cilantro & sesame seeds.” Drops the mic and walks away
Josh further characterizes this incredible dish as “smoky, local, complex, delicious and distinctly 3Crow.” It will not surprise you to hear that I am now counting the days until I can get in there and eat this ramen, and I suggest you do the same!
Hidden Gem by the Harbor
With so many great Rockland restaurants right on Main Street, it took us awhile to discover what the locals already knew: Eclipse Restaurant is consistently serving up some fantastic food in a warm and welcoming setting right on the corner of Main and Park.
My parents got in there before we did, when they were visiting with some of our other
family members. Their report was shocking: these native Marylanders related that their favorite dish was…wait for it… the crab cakes. Now, if you think that people from Maryland are snooty about crab cakes, you’re 100% right. That’s why the crab cakes at Eclipse, which they sampled on the Maine Foodie Tours, blew them away. I believe my mom’s words were something like, “I mean…Alicia…they were like ah-may-zing.” Kathleen Le Bree (who co-owns Eclipse with her husband and son) has a more specific description to tantalize: “The crab cakes are made from local crab and pan seared with a panko crust. They are served with a lemon aioli, arugula tossed in EVOO and lemon juice, and drizzled with a balsamic glaze. When you combine all the flavors in one bite it truly makes your taste buds sing! The crunch of the panko, the mellow taste of the crab, the acidity of the lemon, the pepper flavor of the arugula combined with the touch of sweetness from the balsamic glaze.”
However, Kathleen also wants to recommend their very popular Stuffed Haddock. I’m so glad about this, because haddock is, in my opinion, one of the best things you can eat in Rockland. It’s just not as good in other places! Kathleen says that the secret to the haddock is that it’s an offshoot of the crab cakes. “We bake the fresh haddock with our crabmeat stuffing (A.K.A. crab cake) and top it with lobster meat and a lobster brandy cream sauce. The fresh haddock is the perfect, tasty delivery device for all that good flavor!”
Snacks by the Tracks
We have always been fans of beloved Rockland restaurant, sports bar, performance space, and watering hole Trackside Station. As the parents of one very picky child and another who changes his mind every week about what he likes, we appreciate that the extensive and approachable menu at Trackside has something to make everyone happy…including parents in search of a desperately-needed cocktail. Our oldest son would say that the best dish at Trackside is the grilled cheese, but since he has never eaten any other dish there, he’s been disqualified. Personally, I’m still dreaming of this Haddock Chowder I had one rainy summer day.
Not having even remotely covered the entire menu, myself, I asked the folks at Trackside what they thought their must-try dish was, and they suggested the poutine. Then, as if it were planned, just a week or two later, Eater Maine listed the poutine at Trackside Station as one of the best in Maine.
Now, if you’re not from Maine, you may be thinking, “What is poutine?” and I will fully admit to having asked the same question when I first heard about it. Apparently, poutine originates in Canada, and it is basically fries slathered in gravy and cheese curds. I am surprised that I lived in Minnesota for seven years without encountering this Canadian dish, but the folks in Maine embraced it long ago.
If you’re in Rockland, Trackside Station is an excellent place to tuck into some poutine. Maine Eater says so. Trackside Station says so.
Our son still recommends the grilled cheese…and we’re sure that’s good, too.
I Always Get the Same Thing at Archer’s
The last Rockland restaurant recommendation is mine. It is from the heart, because I love you, dear readers.
Lynn Archer is famous for winning in a Throwdown with Bobby Flay, for her now-legendary lobster club sandwich. However, this article is not about lobster, so if you find yourself at Archer’s on the Pier, whether rainy or sunny, whether lunch or dinner, take a good look at the Grilled Haddock Tacos. When they arrive on your plate, you will joke “I can’t eat all of this,” and then you will.
As I said before, haddock is the unsung hero of the Rockland food scene, and this is no less true when it has been delectably transformed into tacos with coleslaw and cheese and served with Mexican rice and mouthwatering salsa and sour cream by the wonderful folks at Archer’s. Enjoy these scrumptious tacos while watching the boats in the harbor on a sunny day and your happiness will be complete.
You may just decide to put down permanent roots in Rockland, so you can taste all the restaurant dishes. If you or someone you are eating out with has food allergies, be sure to check out my post about eating with food sensitivities in Rockland. For specifically kid-friendly ideas, check out our recommendations for eating out with kids!
…Or keep staying with us. We’d love to have you.
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