February 1, 2013

TRAVELIN' MAINE(RS): OCEAN'S EDGE in BELFAST offer great food, great stay and the best part is the view of the bay

George and Linda Smith


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IF YOU GO . . .

Comfort Inn Ocean’s Edge
and Ocean’s Edge Restaurant

ADDRESS: 159 Searsport Ave., Belfast
PHONE: 338-2090
ON THE WEB: comfortinnbelfast.com
RESERVATIONS: 800-303-5098
RESTAURANT: 338-02646
The restaurant is only open for dinner.

Good managers make good inns. We've found that the managers often define the service at hotels and inns, and Barry Asalone at Ocean's Edge is the perfect example. He's always available for a conversation with guests, is meticulous in the day-to-day details of running a large hotel and no job is beneath him. On Saturday night, he was bussing tables in the busy restaurant.

Here's what I liked about our gorgeous third-floor, two-room suite: the comfortable couch and chairs, the kitchen with lots of cooking pans (including a lobster pot), fridge, microwave, four-burner stove, the kitchen table where I wrote this column, the many drawers, cupboards and large closet, the huge bathroom with a superb shower jet, the lighting and, of course, the huge hot tub with a view of the ocean! The hotel does have a range of rooms from basic to luxurious. We went for luxurious!

We spent a whole Saturday enjoying Belfast's amazing array of art galleries, shops and restaurants, and even spent a couple of hours at a curling tournament. We'll be telling you all about that in a later column. But I will say that Belfast has now become a destination!

On Sunday morning, Lin was up first and went to the living room window. I heard her say, "Wow! What a view!" I joined her at the window (as soon as the coffee was ready) and quickly grabbed my camera. We were, indeed, at the ocean's edge.

Ocean's Edge Restaurant -- George

Just as Barry defines the hotel, Chef Jessica Hightower has created her own space with a menu that draws both locals and out-of-towners to her beautiful restaurant. Several things struck us right away: the prices are very low, the regular menu is very diverse and Jessica's specials are creative and unique.

When we saw one of our favorite Malbecs on the wine list, Dona Paula Los Cordes, we quickly ordered a bottle -- one of the advantages of being able to walk to our room from the restaurant.

I had a hard time with my food decisions. Jessica offered an outstanding three-course $25 dinner with five appetizer choices, four entrée choices and three dessert choices. Aside from that, there were five evening specials -- two appetizers and three entrées.

I chose an entrée from the three-course dinner menu and an appetizer from the regular menu. Barry visited with us at our table when we arrived and recommended the bacon-wrapped scallops. "Jessica adds a drop of maple syrup," he said.

A lover of all things scallops, I was intrigued. The Maine maple glaze drizzled on the bacon-wrapped and nicely seared scallops really did add new flavor to the dish without dominating it. Delicious. Noting my delight, Lin asked to try one and ended up eating three of them. Fortunately, the plate contained a lot of scallops.

As we usually do, we gazed around at what other diners were eating, and the couple at the next table noticed. We struck up a conversation, learning that they live on Mount Desert Island and wanted to get away for a weekend, so they came to Ocean's Edge. We got a kick out of that.

They also highly recommended the Mediterranean Haddock, and I took their recommendation. Beautifully plated, topped with tomato, lemon, capers, kalamata olives and herbs, the haddock was delicious. Along with a sweet potato and roasted vegetables, this was a wonderful dish.

By this time, we'd been luxuriating in the restaurant for quite a while at a table next to the blazing fireplace, and Jessica finally got enough of a break to come out and say hello. We were surprised by her youth. She grew up in the area, cooked in a couple of restaurants, graduated from UMaine's culinary school and settled here.

(Continued on page 2)

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