Our second day in Camden, 5th on the road, was a foodie’s dream! We woke in the morning to walk into town (finding a geocache along the way) for breakfast at Boynton McKay Food Company.
I first heard about this restaurant in a Food Network Magazine feature about the best breakfast in each state. Boynton McKay was the choice for Maine. Housed in what served as the main pharmacy/apothecary in Camden for decades, relics from the former business line the walls of the tiny eatery.
We walked to the counter to order and I nearly had a heart attack when I saw that blueberry pancakes (the specific dish that attracted fame) was not on the menu board! I told the chef I had heard he made the best breakfast in Maine, to which he smirked and replied, “Yeah, that’s the rumor,” and whipped me up a blueberry laden batch of his famous pancakes. They lived up to their reputation, even for a non-breakfast lover.
After breakfast, we drove over to see the Aldamere cows, or “Oreo Cookie Cows,” as my mother calls them. They are black on the front and rear, with a white stripe through the middle.
Next stop was at the Children’s Chapel, a woodland gazebo overlooking the sea—Very popular for weddings. A plaque in the gazebo read:
This chapel is built to the memory of all young people who have passed through this world and gained god by so doing.
It stands for freedom of thought, prayer, and action. It stands for holiness within the heart and wholesomeness within the body and for god in the heart each waking hour. May the lord bless all young people that come here for spiritual and mental refreshment.
From the chapel, we walked down a cinder road, following the coast. Through the woods, we caught glimpses of the ocean, saw woodpecker holes and massive homes.
Finally, a couple of miles down the road, we entered Rockport, a neighboring town. The houses were beautiful, surrounded by lush gardens. I got to see the Rockport Opera House, where several of the altered books I created were exhibited a few years ago. We also wandered around the working harbor, watching lobstermen haul in their catches to purveyors on the shore and walking into Rockport Marine, where we got to see craftsmen hand building massive wooden boats.
Rockport was home to André the Seal, who traveled every summer for 20 years from the New England Aquarium to Rockport Harbor. The seal was appointed honorary harbor master and was the subject of a 1994 film (I remember watching it as a child). Today, a statue of André stands at the waterfront.
All that walking built up an appetite, so we headed to Amalfi on the Water in Rockland. The restaurant had a spectacular view and great food. I had a cajun halibut wrap and my husband had a “two napkin” burger and great beer cheddar soup. We even had a little entertainment as a raccoon (probably rabid 😦 ) trotted through the patio area. We moved inside in front the big windows after that.
Feeling reinvigorated, we got back in the car for a drive to the top of Mount Battie in Camden. The mountain summit offered panoramic views of the harbor area.
We also found two geocaches on the mountain, one named after a local artist who designed the Maine lobster license plate!
The last activity of the day was another for a foodie—A trip to Primo Restaurant!!! I had actually told my mother about the restaurant after seeing it on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, but had forgotten it was so close to where they stay.
The restaurant is surrounded by gardens and greenhouses, full of the produce that is served inside. Walking in, diners are greeted by a chalkboard listing where each ingredient comes from.
Everything on the menu looked great, so making a decision was hard, but we eventually were able to order. To accompany my meal, I ordered a bottle of J.K.’s Scrumpy organic hard cider, which came in a mega bottle. The servers also brought a basket of fresh, brick-oven tasting bread from a central table in the dining room. We sat in the upper dining area, a rustic, natural environment with a bit of city flair.
After we placed our orders, the waitress brought a small bite with compliments from the chef (she used some fancy French word to describe it). It was a pork belly and potato croquette, and it was TO DIE FOR. It was crispy on the outside but light and fluffy inside, with rich smokey flavors from the pork belly.
Our entrées were not far behind and did not disappoint. My mother and I both ordered the Sautéed Scaloppini of Pork “Saltimbocca” with roast garlic mashed potatoes, garden spinach, prosciutto and a sage-mushroom Madeira jus. The generous portion seemed to be lightly breaded and did not get soggy in the jus. The potatoes were creamy and rich, made even more filling by the spinach and mushroom flavor. Combined with the hard cider and the fried sage leaves on top, it was a quintessential autumn meal.
Kevin ordered Handmade Ricotta Cavatelli with locally foraged wild mushrooms, Asian greens, pea tendrils and shaved summer truffles (huge shavings!). He’s told me at least six times that it was the best meal he’s ever eaten.
My father ordered a last taste of summer with Seared Scallops with Chive Pappardelle. It was a blend of zucchini and summer squash in a sweet corn broth (I need to try making that!) with baby leeks, heirloom tomatoes, basil and marjoram. Judging by his clean plate, he loved his meal too!
Dessert was next. Not wanting to waste one bite of my main dish, I was pretty full from cleaning my plate. However, I had to try dessert. So, my mother and I split a crème brulée sampler. Kevin and my father split a chocolate bombe. Both were heavenly and rich with expertly balanced components.
About to burst, I was shocked when the waitress appeared with yet another plate after dessert! Another “with compliments” aspect was the perfect touch to end an excellent meal. The plate contained homemade passion fruit marshmallows with Grand Marnier truffles. Seriously. Good.
So, if you are a foodie, a locavore or just looking for a comfortable yet eclectic and sophisticated restaurant along the coast of Maine, definitely check out Primo!