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Published: August 20th 2011
Mary at the Gate
Well, not really a gate, but at the entrance to Primo decked out in foul weather gear!
We have been looking forward to this for WEEKS! For Christmas our lovely daughters Lauren and Andrea surprised us with a gift certificate for Primo Restaurant in little Rockland, Maine. They knew we were planning a cruise to Maine and that Rockland is an all-weather port that we enjoy visiting. Our wedding anniversary is in August (39 years and counting…) so we decided that a romantic dinner at Primo wold be PERFECT.
There are a lot of great eateries in Maine. What sets Primo apart from the rest is their commitment to raising and cultivating much of the meat and produce that is served. Lauren and I had seen a food channel show (Anthony Bordain) that featured Primo and we were impressed with the commitment to quality and in-house production. Now for the taste test!
After weeks of stunning, sunny weather today dawned cold and dreary. Rain and gusty wind was in the forecast and we broached the idea of rescheduling our reservation. We were both so excited about going that we agreed we would don our foul weather gear and go in. We had made our reservation for an early seating (thinking about returning to the
boat before dark) and were pleased when Andrea (our expert in food and beverage service) informed us that when dining in a great restaurant you always want the first seating. The chef is supervising the evening’s specials, everyone is rested and not rushed AND you will be sure that everything on the menu will be available. Makes sense!
Upon arrival we were pleased the foulies could go in the cloak room before we were seated at a perfect table for two overlooking the gardens. We liked our waiter and chatted about menu items and the wine list. Since we were having a variety of meat and seafood dishes we thought we would like a chilled rose. After selecting a Bandol the waiter brought a different one and we were thrilled that the Suffraine which was not on the menu was available. Our favorite vineyard in the Bandol region (from among those we can afford!!), we have often had their red and this rose was perfect.
A selection of breads was brought and Christian compared them to his, getting ideas for new combinations. Making bread is such an art. Before our first course was served we were brought an
A table for two overlooking the gardens.
“amuse bouche” that is smaller than an appetizer and just to “amuse your mouth” as the name suggests. Tonight is was a lobster beignet about the size of a hush puppy, poised on top of a liqueur glass filled with hot lobster bisque. Both were yummy!
For our first course Christian selected the charcuterie board , including Ciccioli, head cheese, mortadella, pate and N’duja-- many house made. Served with crostini and spicy cress, it included bourbon mustard and French cornichon pickles (no surprise) but also pickled pine needles which were very tasty and interesting in their flavor. A hint of retsina? Mary selected the chorizo-stuffed squid and it was fabulous. The chorizo made it zippy but did not overpower the flavor of the squid, which was not at all tough or rubbery as it can be if not prepared properly.
The evening was off to a great start. Between dishes we noticed an apron-clad woman in the garden picking raspberries in spite of the wind and light rain. They take fresh produce VERY seriously!!
For the main course Christian selected sautéed scaloppini of pork “saltimbocca” served with roast garlic mashed potato, garden spinach, prosciutto and a sage ~mushroom~
Lobster beignet and lobster bisque.
Madeira jus. Mary selected the crisp seared wild striped sea bass with pimento de padrone on a bed of crushed new potato with chorizo and onion… steamed Bang Island mussels & tiny clam with soffritto. We shared a bit so we could taste all the dishes ordered.
The portions were large and we were more than satisfied… but we had seen the dessert menu and were determined to persevere! Christian ordered the trio of crème brulees (coconut, ginger and vanilla with berries) and Mary opted for the caramel profiterolles filled with caramel gelato. Very very yummy. It was still light outside so we opted for coffee. Christian had one of the boozy ones with whipped cream (of course) and Mary had a decaf cappuccino. Perfectly made and delicious.
We will remember this wonderful meal for EVER. We chatted during the meal about our special trip to Paul Bocuse’s restaurant in France when Lauren was a baby. That was over thirty years ago and we talk about it still. Primo now joins the list of our favorite restaurant experiences!
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