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Maine Diners


johnnyd
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Older topics, mostly travel-related, have mentioned a few diners in Maine worth a special trip, or to avoid at all costs. Some have been around for decades - the anchor in small communities throughout the state - offering comfort food, Maine style. Others are "Diner Revival" projects with various outcomes.

One of my very favorites in the country, let alone Maine, is the A1 Diner at #3 Bridge Street in Gardiner, Maine. I heard on the news today that the Food Network filmed a segment there yesterday for their program "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives", (see schedule here).

A1 Diner sits on a bridge over the Kennebec River. The menu is very diverse for your average diner. Along with Meatloaf (hot w/gravy or cold w/lettuce), Turkey Clubs, Mac & Cheese and Liver & Onions, you can have Knockwurst w/Swiss & Onions, Portabello w/onion, Noodles w/Vegetables, Tofu & Fermented Black Bean Sauce, Armenian Chick Peas & Spinach, Lebanese Tomato Salad and Kim Chi. Every dish I've had there has been, well... A1.

If you check out the menu on their website, there is a side order of "Bob's Biscuits" - the price is $1,000,000. There's a story there... I just know it.

------------------------

Anyway, with the summer travel season fast-approaching, I figured Maine Diners are worth a topic of their own so in the spirit of "The Best: Fried Clams" in New England, I invite anyone to post reviews and knowledge of all diner experiences in Maine. (Since classic diners are all over New England, I'll leave it up to Admins on whether to fold this into an encompassing New England Diner topic)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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I like the A1 too. I had some gingerbread there once that I still think about.

Moody's is the closest "real" diner to me. My favorite summer Sunday ritual is a meal at Moody's and then a stop at Beth's Farmstand. Turkey & gravy over biscuits is always good, if coma-inducing.

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If you check out the menu on their website, there is a side order of "Bob's Biscuits" - the price is $1,000,000.  There's a story there... I just know it.

I suspect it has to do with the definition of "biscuits."

"Last week Uncle Vinnie came over from Sicily and we took him to the Olive Garden. The next day the family car exploded."

--Nick DePaolo

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  • 2 weeks later...
Older topics, mostly travel-related, have mentioned a few diners in Maine worth a special trip, or to avoid at all costs.  Some have been around for decades - the anchor in small communities throughout the state - offering comfort food, Maine style.  Others are "Diner Revival" projects with various outcomes.

One of my very favorites in the country, let alone Maine, is the A1 Diner at #3 Bridge Street in Gardiner, Maine.  I heard on the news today that the Food Network filmed a segment there yesterday for their program "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives", (see schedule here).

A1 Diner sits on a bridge over the Kennebec River. The menu is very diverse for your average diner.  Along with Meatloaf (hot w/gravy or cold w/lettuce), Turkey Clubs, Mac & Cheese and Liver & Onions, you can have Knockwurst w/Swiss & Onions, Portabello w/onion, Noodles w/Vegetables, Tofu & Fermented Black Bean Sauce, Armenian Chick Peas & Spinach, Lebanese Tomato Salad and Kim Chi.  Every dish I've had there has been, well... A1.

Just have to reply.

Yes, you are right, the A-1 Diner in Gardiner sits on a bridge, but the bridge crosses the Cobbosseeconte Stream, which in turn runs into the Kennebec River about 1000 feet farther down from the Diner. And there is a Bridge crossing the Kennebec between Gardiner and Randolph.

The owners of the Diner also opened a neat little Wine & Fine Foods store right next door.

Trust me, I live eight driving minutes away from these places.

If you check out the menu on their website, there is a side order of "Bob's Biscuits" - the price is $1,000,000.  There's a story there... I just know it.

------------------------

Anyway, with the summer travel season fast-approaching, I figured Maine Diners are worth a topic of their own so in the spirit of "The Best: Fried Clams" in New England, I invite anyone to post reviews and knowledge of all diner experiences in Maine.  (Since classic diners are all over New England, I'll leave it up to Admins on whether to fold this into an encompassing New England Diner topic)

Edited by Peter B Wolf (log)
Peter
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Sorry, don't know what happened, I posted the follwing somewhere else ? !

Anyway:

Just have to reply.

Yes, you are right, the A-1 Diner in Gardiner sits on a bridge, but the bridge crosses the Cobbosseeconte Stream, which in turn runs into the Kennebec River about 1000 feet farther down from the Diner. And there is a Bridge crossing the Kennebec between Gardiner and Randolph.

The owners of the Diner also opened a neat little Wine & Fine Foods store right next door.

Trust me, I live eight driving minutes away from these places.

Peter
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Trust me too. I live eight minutes from Moody's Diner and had lunch there the other day. While some of the ambiance remains - the food, I'm sorry to say, is hardly worth driving six miles for.

Edited to add: Twenty or thirty years ago I enjoyed both the ambience and the food at Moody's. Now I only go there when someone suggests it as a place to meet.

Edited by Country (log)
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My mother relays that she was in Fairfield this week and on the recommendation of a local, went to a place for lunch that was "D- for decor and ambience, but A+ for food"...she had "chicken shortcake" (Seemed like a chicken pot pie cousin, but served over a home made baking power biscuit) The other person she went with had a fish chowder that was scrumptious...couldn't remember the name, though...maybe it rings a bell for someon else?

KV

All that is needed for evil to survive is for good people to do nothing

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Gee...now that I'm only an hour from Maine, I'm going to have to start paying attention to these threads. What a novel concept!

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Sorry, don't know what happened, I posted the follwing somewhere else ? !

It's there, in the post you were responding to, but you put it in the middle of the rest of the quotation, without closing the first part or opening the second part.

I tried to give an example of what you should have done, but then my quoting got all screwed up!

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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We shouldn't omit Becky's, even though it's in front of our Portland noses. She doesn't serve frozen fish; it's fresh haddock, dredged through the flour and crumbs by the devoted kitchen staff. The pies come from their hands too.

Diners make cheap meals, and the cheapest stuff comes out of boxes in the freezer, so many times that's what you get for a meal. Helen's in Machias, everybody's favorite for pies, seems to buy those pies wholesale...but I can't be sure.

I doubt any fresh chicken meat goes into the dubious chicken potpie at the Maine Diner in Wells, which feasts on the summer crowds without providing much in the way of meals. A BLT on toast might be OK.

A-1 makes really good desserts, like a dish of brownie-like cake, and frozen lemon souffle.

My favorite low-end place in Maine is Brookside Restaurant, not exactly a diner but on the same economic level; it's in Smyrna Mills. She makes such wonderful meatloaf, fried chicken, and fabulous homemade pies. She also works really hard, and won't trade off all that labor for the ease of opening a box.

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Helen's in Machias, everybody's favorite for pies, seems to buy those pies wholesale...but I can't be sure.

I'm pretty sure the original Helen's burned down years ago - maybe early 90's? Before that, their pies were famous up and down the Coast (among local folks), and were made right there. At some point, the place got new owners - either just before or after the fire.

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but the bridge crosses the Cobbosseeconte Stream, which in turn runs into the Kennebec River about 1000 feet farther down from the Diner.
Thanks for that Peter - I didn't look close enough on the map. If you happen to drop in at the A1, can you snap a pic for us? It would be nice to see the places we highlight here.
We shouldn't omit Becky's, even though it's in front of our Portland noses. She doesn't serve frozen fish; it's fresh haddock, dredged through the flour and crumbs by the devoted kitchen staff. The pies come from their hands too.
True True. Becky is a class act. I love that she has gone through the mill to add the second floor which is under construction as we speak.

---------------

Sad news: Even though not quite the diner in architecture, Chicky's Fine Diner in Westbrook was a classic diner in decor and menu. Undercapitalized from the start, their music shows became legendary, but once tables were fed and drinks topped off there was little turn over until the show ended and I am sad to report their doors closed for good last Saturday, the 5th of May.

[TheBollard.com 5/8] Chicky's had established itself as a restaurant renowned for its massive, Saturnian onion rings and generous entrees like the hanger steak with garlic butter, meatloaf with horseradish ketchup, and a super-spicy Jamaican jerk pork special that once made Bollard art director Mich Ouellette, a regular, temporarily paralyzed from the neck up (in a good way).
Chicky and Blake are good friends of mine and I've been assured they will surface in the live-music scene here in Portland but the great diner is history. :sad: Their last press release includes the following prose:
"Chicky's Fine Diner has closed its gangway. After three years of much toil and personal expense, it is no longer feasible to keep the ship afloat. The enemy approaches on the horizon. She must be scuttled on the banks of the mighty Presumpscot.

This industry is fraught with dangers. And our little diner has succumbed to all the hazards chartable.

We shall slip into the dusk with a great many breaches, two toppled masts, and a crew of unparalleled loyalty.

Hip Hip for those who have sailed and drank with us. Hip Hip to those who have regaled us with their reels. Hip Hip to those ashore who have waited for our untimely end.

Pray for the weary and unwanted as they make their peace with god and government."

Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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One of my very favorites in the country, let alone Maine, is the A1 Diner at #3 Bridge Street in Gardiner, Maine.  I heard on the news today that the Food Network filmed a segment there yesterday for their program "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives", (see schedule here).

A1 Diner sits on a bridge over the Kennebec River. The menu is very diverse for your average diner.  Along with Meatloaf (hot w/gravy or cold w/lettuce), Turkey Clubs, Mac & Cheese and Liver & Onions, you can have Knockwurst w/Swiss & Onions, Portabello w/onion, Noodles w/Vegetables, Tofu & Fermented Black Bean Sauce, Armenian Chick Peas & Spinach, Lebanese Tomato Salad and Kim Chi.  Every dish I've had there has been, well... A1.

If you check out the menu on their website, there is a side order of "Bob's Biscuits" - the price is $1,000,000.  There's a story there... I just know it.

One thing their website won't tell you is that they're closed on Sundays. Or at least some Sundays, as we found out last year, much to our disappointment.

I'd advise folks to call first, but another thing their website won't tell you is their phone #. You're on your own, as I will be if we decide to try them again.

Seriously, the A-1 comes well recommended, & we've been hoping to try it for some years, since we're in that area 2-3 times every year, but the timing has never worked out. Maybe next time.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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