By Marti Mayne
From Boston, take the Maine Turnpike and connect via Route 295 in Brunswick with Maine’s Coastal Route One and you’re well on your way to the self-proclaimed Lobster Capital of the Universe, Rockland, ME. You’ll see plenty of roadside lobster shacks along Route One. Some, like Reds Eats in Wiscasset, ME, have even gained fame resulting in long lines for people awaiting that “perfect Maine lobster roll”. But if you’re seeking the real Maine…the quintessential Maine experience…pass Reds and continue to Rockland. If you make your trip in June, start with the Historic Inns of Rockland’s Lobsters, Lighthouses and Luxury package and you’ll get a true insider’s view of everything lobster you could ever want complete with a ride on a lobster boat, lighthouses, lobster dinners, lobster tours and luxury too. Offered every June, they’ll even throw in another “L” – lobsters, lighthouses, luxury and lupines!
If you can’t make it in June, come stay at Historic Inns of Rockland any other time in the summer or fall and lobsters, luxury and lighthouses can still be a focus for your trip. You’ve seen the photos, now you get to experience that fabulous craggy coast of Maine with a special treasure discovered by the Historic Inns of Rockland. If you’re looking for the perfect lobster dinner, it has to be located in the perfect location, and McLoon’s Lobster Shack in South Thomaston is it! Operating one of the oldest lobster wharfs in the region, this fabulous wharf and restaurant is supplied by 12 lobster boats, some of which are operated by families of three generations. The oldest lobsterman fishing from the harbor is 86 years old!
McLoon’s setting is quintessential Maine. Stand on the wharf and take in the tall pine covered islands, the sound of seagulls and the beauty of colorful lobster boats bobbing in the harbor. Add a few lupines to the scene and you’ve got one gorgeous location. I venture to say, this one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever seen, capturing all that makes Maine grand.
Bree Douty, the daughter of the wharf owners, operates McLoon’s Lobster Shack with a focus on fresh and local., spending her winters in New York City and summers in Maine. Ask for a lobster dinner, and she or one of her staff will escort you to the side of the wharf, pull up a plastic bucket filled with live lobsters caught that day or the day before, and ask you to pick your dinner! From sea to stove, it doesn’t get much fresher than that! Next, you get the option to pick your own fresh-grown herbs from the container garden next to the order window and add as much or as little of freshly grown herbs as you wish!
There’s nothing you won’t love on the menu at McLoon’s. The lobster rolls are plentiful and delicious, served on perfectly toasted buttered buns and overflowing with lobster. The lobster stew has a hint of tarragon, which gives it a signature taste. We tried the roasted Littleneck clams and they were smoky and delicious. The crab rolls and crab cakes are made from fresh Maine crab and they are among the best I’ve ever tried. For non-lobster lovers, there’s homemade corn chowder and burgers cooked on the outside grill next to the lobster shack. In fact, everything at McLoon’s is homemade. The locally made pies and brownie sundaes are the perfect ending to your lobster dinner here.
You’ll sit at picnic tables taking in the view, almost wishing that the food will take longer to cook so you can simply stare at the scene. Watch lobster boats come and go to unload their haul while Bob Woodbury, the longtime wharf manager, carefully weighs the catch. Kids love the colorful chairs offered for a bird’s eye view of the wharf, which come in adult and kiddie-size. Come during June’s Lobster, Lighthouses and Luxury package, and you’ll get an up-close-and-personal tour of the lobster wharf and a full explanation of the lobstering industry, complete with a very “fragrant” tour of the bait shack from Bob.
The ride to and from McLoon’s to Rockland is the icing on the lobster roll! The scenic route is dotted with lupine fields (in June), plenty of glimpses of Penobscot Bay and the islands beyond, and antique New England Capes and cottages. It’s quintessential Maine vacationland all the way. Be sure to have the camera handy, this is as much a great part of the trip as the meal itself.
You’ll end your day at Historic Inns of Rockland, three luxury inns within an easy stroll of Rockland’s downtown and harbor districts. Friendly innkeepers will be anxious to hear how your meal at McLoon’s went, and will concur that it’s one of Maine’s true gems. When you stay at any of the three Historic Inns of Rockland, be sure to ask for directions to McLoon’s and make it one of your stops along the way in Midcoast Maine.
When You Go
McLoon’s Lobster Shack: Open seasonally 11am-7pm – Memorial Day – Columbus Day, 327 Island Road
Spruce Head Island, Maine, (207) 593-1382, www.Mcloonslobster.com . Click here for a full menu: http://www.mcloonslobster.com/#menu.
Historic Inns of Rockland: Three luxury inns, all within walking distance of Rockland’s downtown scene and Harbor. Granite Inn, LimeRock Inn, Berry Manor Inn, www.HistoricInnsofRockland.com, 207-596-6611.