True stories with a twist!

I thought I was quite knowledgeable about food. But that was before having dinner in a restaurant in Camden, Maine: Natalie’s, which we discovered on vacation this summer.

The decor was beautiful, and a far cry from the usual boat scenes, crashing ocean waves scenes, and lobster trap themes we had seen so far. When we entered, strains of Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” welcomed us with its familiar melodic melody. The tables were elegantly set with tablecloths and fine china. Large gracious chandeliers overlooked the dining room.

The waitress, well trained and gracious, seated us and presented us with the menus. At the first look we were stunned; we did not know that dinners were price fixe only, and that the prices were higher than a night’s lodging at the finest hotel. We glanced up at each other simultaneously and I asked, “should we stay?”

“Oh, we’re on vacation,” my sweet husband said. “Let’s try it.”      IMG_0863

The menu had terms I don’t usually see and didn’t understand. Terms such as “Nage” as in “corn nage,” “Foam” as in “Lobster foam,” and my favorite, “Deconstructed potato salad. ” Although most chefs work hard to construct dishes to  present, the deviant cook at this restaurant did his best to separate the ingredients and serve the salad in its components rather than mixed together in one unit.

Pretentious? Perhaps. The first thing the waitress brought was a tray of lovely, warm, home made breads. She carried a mysterious  rectangular tray containing small pats of home churned butter. With the butter were six small dishes of salt.

“These are flavored salts, she explained. You are welcome to select three.” Among the choices were white truffle, garlic, mushroom, curry, smoked paprika and ginger. She took out a small spoon, which reminded me of heroin spoons I’ve seen in movies, and sprinkled a tiny amount on each mound of butter. Then it was up to us to taste the breads with butter mixed with flavored salt. That initial impression made quite an impression.

The came a gift from the chef, a miniature glass of peach smoothie. This is called an “amuse bouche,” which is a small taste to arouse the palate and prepare it for the meal ahead, the waitress explained.

Between each course was a palate cleanser: something tasty and amazing to make your palate forget everything else it had tasted.

The evening was quite an experience, we enjoyed it, and still talk about it. That dinner was the most unusual experience of our trip to Maine.

We are now back from vacation and content to be experiencing ordinary comfort foods.

Without a palate cleanser between courses!

Comments on: "TOP FLIGHT RESTAURANT" (47)

  1. Hello, I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award here:

  2. fransiweinstein said:

    Glad you enjoyed it. That’s what holidays should ve — new and different experiences.

  3. Good for you! It’s fun to go all out sometimes, even if it puts a dent in our budget! Glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Chris said:

    Greetings Ronnie,
    I am a member of the Farmy Fellowship as you are and read your recent comment on Celi’s blog regarding the sun dried tomatoes…can you share your recipe for them here? I would love to make some in order to pull some summertime out of my cupboard or freezer this winter! 🙂

    • Oven baked Sun dried tomatoes are made by slicing the tomatoes, putting them on cookie sheets in which small amounts of olive oil was poured, lightly salted and or sugared, and baked for 3 or 4 hours in a low oven, about 250or 300 degrees, depending on how thinly you slice them.

  5. Sounds like the meal was delicious and memorable.


  6. I love the idea of the flavoured salts, and the deconstructed potato salad, were you bad? did you stir it all together on your plate? It sounds like the designers of the food really love food and thought about what they were doing.. lovely. c

  7. Sounds like an expensive but delightful experience. Sometimes you just have to treat yourself to something special. What an interesting menu!

  8. Your husband got it right. The restaurant got it right. Lovely.

  9. Excellent! You were about an hour and a half from where I spent 32 years of my life. Natalie’s must be new, and hopefully it will endure. Maine is not the best economic climate for such ventures, so here’s hoping!

  10. What a lovely, memorable experience, Ronnie. It sounds like you had a first-class dining splurge. I like your husband’s attitude, “Go for the gusto.” I believe the first time I ever had a palate cleanser between meals was grapefruit ice. (Could be wrong!) I was quite impressed.

  11. Sounds like it might have been cheaper to buy heroin. 😉

  12. I’m not sure what I’d think of McDonalds serving a palate cleanser, or KFC serving chicken foam. Fast food is still my idea of fine dining… 😉

  13. This reminds me of dinners in France. Flavored salts are all the rage right now. Which was your favorite?

  14. That was your introduction to “posh” dining. There’s a lot of it about and I’m not a fan. It’s faddish, as was “Cuisine mInceur”, and has a limited shelf life. Search out restaurants that serve great, simple food. The frills are just frills:)

    • I agree with you, and that is what I usually do. But this restaurant was recommended by the hotel. Since we had never been to Camden before we asked for their recommendations. I had no idea what kind of establishment it turned out to be.

  15. I love restaurants like that every now and then. If you’re ever in Chicago, try L2O!

  16. sounds like you were really pampered.

  17. Only a little bit different than meat and potatoes.

  18. We were there in early June (in that area, not that restaurant). I sort of like the more local places– get plenty of that high end in NY etc. but this does sound elegant.

  19. Now I really need to know what it cost….. sounds like it was worth it in any case…

    • Must I? Since you’re such a dear friend, Bulldog, I’ll confess that it cost $68.00 each for the three course price fixe dinner, and $97.00 for the 7 course tasting menu without any drinks, taxes, or tip. So the total come to quite the sum.

      • A meal out like that here would cost at least a R1 000 which in you funny money would be $105 ok much of a sameness … now if we could just earn the same salaries that the Americans do.. it would be fairly cheap…

  20. mysending said:

    We recently went to a store that sells only olive oil, vinegar, and salt. We had a good time tasting the oils and then went onto the salts. It wasn’t until we got home and looked (by that, I mean “I”) at the ingredients of the Hawaiian red salt that we had purchased. It has salt and “harvested reddish Hawaiian clay.” Basically, we paid for dirt.

  21. Lynn Murphy said:

    My imagings are stretched to their limit: What were the selections of Entree, and what Glorious Architecturally Crafted Dessert came for the finale.

  22. You’re not going to tell us how much it came to, are you?

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