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Kitchen Garden Restaurant -- great discovery in Steuben ME!


Restaurants & Bars 2

Kitchen Garden Restaurant -- great discovery in Steuben ME!

gargantua2 | Aug 5, 2012 07:24 AM

I only post about restaurants when I find an undiscovered restaurant I like – it’s more fun to turn people on to good places and let the bad ones die in peace – but even so, this review of a hidden gem in Downeast Maine will be the most positive I’ve posted to date. My wife and I and two friends visited the Kitchen Garden Restaurant in Steuben ME (just off Rt. 1 about 25-30 minutes N of Ellsworth and about 5 minutes S of Millbridge). The restaurant is located in its proprietors' home, with tables situated in a lovely dining room, surrounded by vegetable gardens that supply the produce (you can’t get more locavorous than this!) and decorated with the owner/chef’s own wood sculptures. The proprietors are relaxed and welcoming and the atmosphere mellow. What blew us away, however, was the quality of the food itself. We began with four orders of local Maine shrimp (the small kind), generous portions in a simple yet delicious sauce of butter, wine, and home-grown herbs. For the next course, some of us had salad and one of us tried the tomato soup. It’s hard to produce a green salad that is truly memorable, but this one was: a lovely citrus dressing with sesame oil and vegetables from the garden, accented with hemp heart seed (never had it before, but it really worked in this setting), an artichoke heart (the one nonlocal veggy), and a deliciously piquant lightly pickled homegrown beet. The tomato soup was the best I’ve ever had – a thick and intensely flavorful puree of fresh tomatoes garnished with basil and topped with a design of crème freche. For the main course, three of our party tried seafood offerings (scallops and halibut), since we were vacationing in Maine. I love Jamaican food (the chef hails from Jamaica, and Jamaican food is a specialty of the house), so I ordered the goat curry, which was the best I’ve ever had (a verdict seconded by one of our fellow diners who has haunted Jamaican restaurants in Brooklyn and Mt. Vernon) – perfectly blended curry with lots of goat meat, most of it off the bone already, and the rest falling off instantly upon contact. (The other entrées were Jamaican jerk chicken and a vegetarian option.) The curry was only moderately hot (a concession to local tastes), so the chef sent out a side of habanero sauce, with which I up my portion. The curry was accompanied by rice and beans and carrot medallions, both of which were simple but delicious and provided a great contrast to the spicy curry. The scallops were succulent, sweet, and tasted ocean fresh, done up in a subtle sauce of shallots, butter, lemon and white wine with a touch of cream that perfectly complemented the scallops. The halibut was also excellent, fresh-tasting and prepared with a light sauce of garlic, dill, lemon, white wine and capers, accompanied (as were the scallops) by a wonderful potato dish, along with the fresh carrots. For dessert we shared blueberry-mascarpone crepes topped with freshly whipped cream – deeply flavorful and not too sugary – and a delicious rhubarb/strawberry pudding, topped with vanilla ice cream. (I tried the latter on a dare and ended up eating a full half-serving – the first time I’ve enjoyed rhubarb since my parents served it too often when I was a kid.) All in all, a truly extraordinary meal that rivaled the best dinners we have had in NYC. (The per-item prices did as well, though it’s BYO [with a $5 corkage fee for the first bottle], which reduces the tab.) This is a two-person operation and the eating area is small (five or six tables) and it's only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so make your reservations at least a few days in advance, be prepared to consult the menu on-line and phone in your appetizer and entrée choices the day before you dine (and be sure to ask if there about off-menu selections before you commit), and remember that it’s BYO and takes only cash or checks, not plastic. http://www.thekitchengardenrestaurant...

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