Friday, June 29, 2007

foodblogging - the lobster edition

Banana and I headed over to Tidal Falls tonight for our dinner out for the week. She loves lobster, and it seemed fair to split a lobster. Little did I know I would really only end up with the tail. Nonetheless, that's not the point, right?

Tidal Falls has been around in one way or another for a number of years. It was originally one of the best working pounds in Hancock, and as any good pound did, it served basic shore dinners. Most of these old pounds are gone now. The Cardinal at the bridge has become a wholesale outfit. Gordon's and others along the Route 1 corridor have closed up over the years, as did Tidal Falls for several years.

It reopened in the early eighties, owned and operated by a French woman I only remember as Madame. Her lobsters and moules were impeccable, and as a good French chef, she never skimped on the side items she offered, and the bread was always fresh. She also always kept a stash of wine even though the restaurant was technically BYOB; the deal was you replaced the bottle the next time you came. When she retired, the Frenchman Bay Conservancy raised the money to buy the point to keep it from being developed and to use the restaurant to fund their efforts. So how has it gone?

The menu now includes a thorough selection of fried options. When I tried the scallops last year, I was impressed. The breading was light, and the scallops themselves were excellent quality. The new operator has added barbecue to the offerings.He clearly is quite serious about the 'que, based on the set-up he has going. He also talked about how depressing it was to have to store and reheat food since he hadn't figured out the pace yet. (Apparently, the Conservancy is also against him advertising anything other than the lobster and fried seafood. Go figure.)

Anyway, the initial impression is actually a bit of sticker shock. Prices on lobster have climbed precipitously this year, with hard shells coming off the boat at close to nine dollars. Market price at the restaurant then becomes a painful fourteen bucks a pound. (Note to self: we'll have to check Beal's in Southwest Harbor to see what prices at a working retail operation are running.) In keeping with what I'm seeing everywhere right now, however, other prices are rising too--the most criminal example being Anna's four-dollar lemonade. But the real test comes in the food, right? So here it is:

The lobster was perfect and succulent. It seemed dirtier than it should have been, but then the days of Madame tightly controlling her supply are gone. In any case, Anna tore into the small claws and had some of the meat from the bigger claws before retreating to the garlic bread. I shared the big claws with her and had the tail, and it was very good. The corn was also good, though not as tasty as the corn I put on the grill earlier in the week. Even the cole slaw was good. The main downside was the garlic bread which was basically a hero role slathered with butter and garlic powder, not even much of a trace of minced garlic as it should have had.

Overall, the food was good, not great. (Yes, my veggie friends will crow that we shouldn't even be going through this.) But the thing about Tidal Falls is that half of the experience is the location--a tidal falls (runs in and out with the tide) between Frenchman Bay and Taunton Bay, across the narrows from our house:

In the dead-calm water between the tides, you can watch seals fish, herons and ospreys fly over. It's a stunning spot, and back in the cove are the remnants of its days as a working pound.

The water isn't as clean as it used to be, but then that's nothing new. Unfortunately.