The Inn by the Sea, in Cape Elizabeth, and its restaurant, Sea Glass, have long been on Meredith and my radar, but living just a few miles away, we had a hard time justifying the stay (although Mere definitely tries to convince me to book a room at the dog-friendly establishment every time the house gets a little too warm in the summer or cold in the winter) and had mistakenly set both on the back-burner. So when the inn contacted us and suggested that we check out the restaurant (and insisted that we bring Orvis along for dinner!), we jumped at the opportunity, found an evening home somewhere amidst a particularly busy travel month, and made a reservation.
Set just off our favorite beach in Maine, Inn by the Sea has earned a reputation for luxury and comfort, and Sea Glass, its own reputation for creative, seasonal, and locally-sourced dishes. We opted for a seat on the deck overlooking the back lawn, and with a view of the ocean in the distance, ordered some drinks to start. I was thrilled to see a full selection of Portland’s Maine Mead Works Honeymaker meads on the menu (think delicious honey-based wine), and ordered a Dry Hopped Mead, while Meredith opted for the inn exclusive Cameron Hughes Lot 266 Pinot Noir. While we waited for our appetizers, we were treated to a tasty ricotta mousse, with cranberry, on crostini – a pleasant surprise that left us anxiously anticipating the rest of our meal.
Meredith must have loved the Roasted Mushroom Tart that kicked off her meal, with goat cheese, arugula, balsamic syrup, and a parmesan biscuit crust, because it was with only the slightest tinge of remorse that she remembered that she forgot to offer me a bite. It’s ok however, because I returned the favor with my Baked Fig & Manchego Strudel, a herb ricotta and smoked almond-stuffed phyllo pastry, drizzled in a spiced honey (man, do I love honey) that was so delicious that I devoured it in almost record time. By the time our entrées arrived, we were well on our way to realizing just how special of an evening we were sharing, and the main course just sent us over the top.
In a somewhat surprise move to me (read beef bourguignon at Petite), Meredith ordered the Rigatoni Pasta Bolognese with slow braised beef short ribs, tomato ragout, marinated olives, and aged parmesan, which I was lucky enough to have a chance to try (and try again and again!). I had a hard time selecting from what was sure to be an impossible-to-lose set of options, but decided to give the Gulf of Maine Seafood & Lobster Paella a shot. Paella is one of my all-time favorite seafood dishes, introduced to me by my father, who would make the dish every so often after business trips to Valencia (the home of the dish). Later in college, Meredith and I had the chance to visit Valencia for ourselves, and spent one of the most memorable and surreal meals of our lives, eating paella with one of dad’s local friends, in a seaside restaurant at a table overlooking the Mediterranean. Not an easy memory to follow, but the masterfully-prepared paella I enjoyed that evening at Sea Glass rivaled my meal in Spain, and framed with the Atlantic in the background, left me pleasantly reminiscent of the Spanish meal while proud of the life (and food) we’ve found here in Maine.
Our meal and evening were both fantastic, and only because we were completely stuffed were we able to turn down the tasty looking dessert menu and S’more station that the inn offers every evening. I would’ve called the evening an absolute success already, but before we headed out, we walked the inn’s path to the beach, and almost serendipitously, enjoyed one of the most beautiful sunsets from such a special cove to the two of us. After the sun had dropped beyond the horizon, it was with great sadness that we returned to our car, vowing to return soon for drinks in the lounge by the fireplace or the seating area on the deck before our next meal.
It would be a great oversight to not mention just how dog-friendly the Inn by the Sea is, and that we’ll definitely be adding it to our dog-friendly category even though we opted to leave Orvis at home on this particular trip. The staff was insistent that we bring Orvis (all 90 pounds of him) along to dine with us in the lounge or on the deck (we decided to concentrate on the photos and food for this visit), and during the meal we were delighted to see a few puppies with their owners. We’re thinking that Orvis might just get the opportunity to tag along for our next visit – here’s to hoping that he behaves well enough for there to be more trips after that!
Cape Elizabeth, Maine 04107