This posting comes the week after my return from a gustatory loop hard to surpass. Since most of it falls into the "chowhound" category, sharing the info seems appropriate. By the way, no lobster pounds here. You can't beat the home spread -- lobster, steamers, corn, homemade blueberry pie!
* Sturbridge: the only dud; I should have known better than to have gambled that Churchill's Eatery would be open on a Thursday night even though it was the beginning of Labor Day weekend. Disappointed and hungry, I went to Friendly's, which it may be but the food is lousy. I should have munched on pretzels and forged ahead.
-- Sea Basket never disappoints. The fish chowder is as good as ever; the crab roll was excellent.
-- La Garage, my first time there in all the decades I've been going to that area, holds up to the good reviews. Everything about this place was very nice, lovely preparation; the swordfish was superb; knockout oysters on the half shell.
-- Bet's ABSOLUTELY lives up to all the accolades. The is the best of fish and chips (yes, both) that I've had anywhere! I had the half portion for $5. The freshest fillet had to be at least 8 inches long; the chips a mound of delicious, perfectly done potatoes that no way could I finish.
-- Round Top blueberry ice cream from Red's. Top notch as always.
* Scarborough/Pine Point Road
-- Ken's Place -- OK. Mediocre chips; good lobster roll.
-- Bayley's -- shouldn't have had fish and chips after Bet's. While it was good enough, there's NO comparison.
-- Beale's, again. -- that ice cream is very good.
-- American Cafe on Rte. 1 -- breakfast here at a place trying to be a little different. Hash browns were white and sweet potatoes done in butter with some rosemary and quite tasty, but there's no excuse for an English muffin flattened on the grille. I think this could be a good lunch stop.
-- Maine Diner lives up to all the hype. I finally braved the lines, even on a week night. The wonderful seafood chowder, only a cup, was almost dinner right there. Couldn't finish the salad; lobster casserole was terrific; huge corn muffin was breakfast the next day; most of the blueberry pie, which could have been warmed but was delicious and included ice cream or whipped cream (I passed), went along for the next day, too. The whole business with coffee -- about $24!
-- Clam Box is still right up there! AND NO line at 1 p.m. the Thursday after Labor Day.
-- White Farms -- super ice cream.
-- In a Pig's Eye, Derby St. -- third or fourth time there. Recommendations still stand as well as the caveat to go easy with the appetizers unless you are ravenously hungry. Knowing this, we split one. Portions are big! Guitar soloist was a nice bonus, easier for conversation than the bands. Non-food -- GO to the Peabody Essex Museum! This was the crummy day destination, an astute decision.
-- Michael's Restaurant at Sandy Bay Inn must be the breakfast treasure of Rockport. There are more locals than Inn guests, and Sunday's brunch hour gets waiting lines. How can you beat juice, endless coffee, eggs any way, ham, sausage, or bacon, hash browns, toast or Eng. muffin for under $5?
-- A number of target restaurants closed on Friday afternoon to prepare for A Taste of Rockport festival on Saturday. Wound up at Brackett's, which was good enough but undistinguished. The view of the harbor is lovely.
-- McT's was the biggest nice surprise. The street-facing facade and very dicey parking suggested tourist tavern, and the 40-minute wait didn't encourage. However, we luckily got a table almost immediately while a couple argued over deck seating (he won; we got the inside table). The deck overlooks the harbor, great for lunch on a sunny day. It was evening, dark and chilly. Indoors was perfect. Salads were not creative but perfectly fresh with light, excellent dressings. Split appetizer was fried artichokes Hollandaise which were outrageous! Entrees (huge) were haddock picatta, which sounds odd but was impeccably fresh and totally delicious, and fried oysters. Nothing fried had a drop of grease. Only the loaf of bread didn't measure up to the rest. It was fresh and tasted fine but could have been a nice crusty round. Its importance was way down on the list anyway. We should have split entrees, too.
-- Madfish Grille at Rocky Neck is really elegant, spare and arty, overlooking the harbor. Had lunch here. Pulled pork sandwich was very good. Extra cole slaw, no charge. I'd definitely do dinner here.
Final note: No dinner, except La Garage where I was a guest, topped $30 and included a glass of wine and tip. Fruit and vegetable meals for the next three weeks!