Boston Restaurant Blog -- December, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
For the third year in a row, I made it up to the Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude. The weather was better than it had been the previous two years (much less wind and a bit milder), and, as with the other trips, I was able to try some decent restaurants in the area.
We stopped for lunch in Portsmouth, NH, on the way up on Friday. Our destination was a little-known Indian restaurant off the main drag called Shalimar India. The atmosphere at Shalimar India had touches of classiness and elegance but it also had a slightly drab, tired feel in some ways with its maroon/cranberry colored walls and old carpeting. The food, however, was very impressive; for very little money, we enjoyed some really tasty dishes, including a spicy and smooth mulligatawny soup, a delicious order of garlic naan, a nice version of the ever-popular chicken tikka masala, and a moderately spicy and flavorful chana saag (spinach and chickpea curry). The masala tea wasn't bad, though it didn't have the rich flavor I'm used to, and the side of rice was adequate and went well with the dishes. Service was friendly and it seemed like it was a family running the place. All in all, Shalimar India turned out to be a terrific way to kick off the trip.
After checking into our place and spending some time walking around the Perkins Cove section of Ogunquit, we drove over to Route 1 where we had dinner at Bintliff's on the northern edge of town. I had enjoyed an excellent breakfast at Bintliff's a couple of years ago (see the blog entry A Few Restaurants in Ogunquit, Wells, and Kennebunkport, Maine), so I was looking forward to trying the place out for dinner. And they certainly didn't let us down, as everything from the Tuscan bread to the French onion soup to the rib eye steak to the chicken Tuscany was just about perfect. The atmosphere at Bintliff's was just as nice as I remember it, too, with a gas fireplace warming the area in which we were sitting, and the subtle exotic touches adding an intimate feel to the room. Service was professional and friendly, and the prices really weren't all that bad considering the quality of the food.
After having a quick breakfast where we were staying, we spent Saturday morning wandering around Ogunquit, Wells, and Kennebunkport, eventually driving along the scenic ocean drive that goes past the Bush compound and ends up in the charming fishing village of Cape Porpoise. We drove through the town and continued to the end of the road, where we had lunch at a restaurant and pub called The Ramp. Located on the ocean and below an upscale restaurant called Pier 77, The Ramp has a real sea shanty feel to it, with wooden floorboards, lots of memorabilia on the walls, lobster traps outside of the building, and interesting characters at the bar. The menu at The Ramp is limited, but the food that we had was really quite excellent, with the split pea soup being thick and hearty, the steamed mussels being fresh and piping hot, the cheeseburger with Vermont cheddar cheese being thick and juicy, and the handcut fries being absolutely addictive. I also greatly enjoyed a special Shipyard Prelude beer there that was dark and spicy. We soon left The Ramp with bellies happy and full and we were now ready to tackle the crazy crowds at the Prelude.
We ended up spending relatively little time at the Kennebunkport Prelude, mainly because the crowds were ever more out of control than the past couple of years, but we had a great time wandering the streets, checking out the shops, and enjoying all the Christmas lights. But we soon hit the road and went back to the Ogunquit area, eventually heading to an Italian restaurant on Route 1 a little north of Bintliff's called Angelina's. For some reason I was thinking that Angelina's was going to be your basic suburban-type Italian-American restaurant (maybe because of the pleasant but slightly plain exterior and interior), but it was much different from this. The food was authentic, fresh, and at times outstanding, with the Tuscan soup, Caesar salad, and delmonico steak really standing out. The Tuscan risotto was perhaps a little less impressive, as the rice was slightly dry in spots and the dish in general wasn't really bursting with flavor. But the rest of the food was fantastic, as were the wines--the buttery montepulciano was exquisite, while the cabernet was nearly as good. The homemade tiramisu was also good, with the type of rich flavor you want with this dessert dish. Once again, service was excellent and the prices, while a bit high for some items, were about on par for the type of food we ordered.
Snow was in the forecast for the next day, so we left early on Sunday and got back to Boston around noon, ending yet another fun trip to the Kennebunkport/Ogunquit area. All of the restaurants we went to on the trip were good in their own ways, but if I had to pick one for the best combination of food, atmosphere, service, and price, I'd probably go with Bintliff's. My guess is, it will be a restaurant that we will be returning to on our next trip to the area.
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