250 Main and 18 Central

By George and Linda Smith | Jun 25, 2017
Photo by: George Smith Scallop and pork belly entree at 18 Central, Rockport.

George

After reading articles about 18 Central in Zest and Down East magazines, we were eager to dine there. Chef Patrick Duffy and his wife, Jessica, have created a restaurant that is unique, with very creative dishes and an ever-changing menu that keeps both locals and summer visitors flocking to this place. Be sure to get a reservation.

Our table overlooked Rockport Harbor, and every table was full, including the long bar near the entrance, on a Monday night. Our server, Alexa, a young lady who aspires to be a professional photographer (kenyaraephotography.com), has worked here since last November, and was super-friendly and very knowledgeable about the menu, a very good thing, because Patrick’s dishes are complicated.

Linda insisted on a single shared appetizer, Fried Green Tomatoes ($15), which turned out to be wise, because portions are large. I did wish I’d had a chance to try the extensive raw bar menu, which includes oysters from six Maine suppliers and clams from New Meadows. Next time!

After reading about the scallop and pork belly entree in the magazines, I had to have it, and Alexa confirmed that it is indeed very, very good. And boy, it sure was. Just imagine: grilled scallops, roasted pork belly, parsnip mashed potatoes, grilled radicchio, spring onion agrodolce, and a spicy mustard on the side.

At the first bite of scallops, I am in dining heaven, and then I hear Linda raving about her first bite of chicken, “Wow! Is that good!” Patrick’s sauces are really amazing, and some take more than a day to prepare.

We stayed that night at 250 Main, a gorgeous new hotel on the east end of Rockland’s great downtown, with stunning views of the ocean from both the rooms and the rooftop deck, and lots of amenities, from heated towel racks to afternoon wine-and-cheese gatherings

A college-age young man, Joshua, carried our bags to our room and visited with us at the afternoon wine gathering. Every staffer here is friendly, smiling and takes time to speak with you, something we appreciate. Our room on the fifth floor offered a great view of the ocean, and we lingered the next morning before heading home.

While we were in Rockland, we enjoyed a fantastic lunch at Close to Home, a new sandwich shop opened by the owners of Home Kitchen Café. My El Cubano was superb.

* * *

Linda

250 Main is the new contemporary hotel in Rockland. One step in and I noticed its European feel. The large and open layout of the main lobby was filled with artwork. High ceilings featured old wooden boards next to corrugated steel sections. Fresh coffee awaits, and there are several tables where small gatherings meet and breakfast is served.

Our room on the fifth floor featured modern lighting and sleek furniture offset by white walls. An entire wall of windows certainly filled the room with light, as well as a nice view of the harbor. The elegant bathroom had modern fixtures, fluffy towels and an extra-large glass-door shower. Yes, one feels pampered here.

There is a lot of art throughout the building, featuring Maine artists in various mediums. A pamphlet in the lobby detailed the artwork on each floor and a little bit about each artist.

Dinner at 18 Central that evening was superb. We had dined here a couple of years ago when it was Shepard’s Pie. It is still a nice dining space with some tables overlooking the water. The open kitchen offers great views of the food being prepared. It always amazes me when you have a packed dining room and the chefs are very busy but don’t seem stressed out. I’m pretty sure I would be!

I knew what I wanted for an appetizer, and yes, I did have some convincing to do to get George to share one. But this version of Fried Green Tomatoes was topped with fresh crabmeat. Sold. With green goddess dressing, herbs and microgreens and a splash of chili oil, this appetizer was elegant. It was big enough to split and still enjoy our entrees.

As I glanced through the menu I thought, “It would probably be wrong to order fried chicken in a restaurant like this.” However, my gauge of a great restaurant is if they can take chicken and really elevate it. This dish proved that the chefs know exactly what they are doing.

The coating was crispy, yet light, and the chicken was moist and tender. It was drizzled with a sesame cider vinaigrette. One bite and I was over the moon. This Fried Chicken dinner, ($25), came with collards and heirloom grits. The collards had a smokey flavor (perhaps cooked with salt pork), and the grits had texture and a bit of spice.

Chef Patrick told us he grew up in Virginia. Yes, I thought, of course he has those southern flavors down. I was not wrong in ordering the chicken here, for it truly was the best fried chicken I have ever tasted!

We split the homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Crisp. It was served warm with a honey ricotta topping. It wasn’t overly sweet and tasted like spring, a great finish to a great dinner.

If You Go

250 Main, 594-5994, 250mainhotel.com

18 Central Oyster Bar & Grill, 466-9055, 18central.com

Fried chicken entree at 18 Central, Rockport. (Photo by: George Smith)
Strawberry rhubarb oatmeal crisp at 18 Central, Rockport. (Photo by: George Smith)
Comments (2)
Posted by: Judith C Feyler | Jun 27, 2017 07:11

Two great reviews for this area!

 



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jun 25, 2017 16:43

My mouth is watering and wish I could skip right over and dine! Alas am in AZ. But seemed good to fantasize.



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