Thursday, July 21, 2011

restaurant review - Robert's Maine Grill, Kittery, ME

mmm...oysters !
This is a very delayed delayed that we had to go back and eat here again in order to get it fresh in our minds. Ah, readers, the trouble I go through for you...

Robert's is an absolutely fantastic restaurant in a sort of unlikely location - smack in the middle of a bunch of outlet malls. The place is owned by the same people who own the infamous Bob's Clam Hut right across the street, which has been serving up delicious fried clams to Route 1 travelers for over fifty years. Robert's is a little more upscale, though - upscale, but still somehow really accessible-feeling. The decor is light wood, huge windows and a deck overlooking the lovely Spruce Creek, and they also have a really interesting art collection on the walls - some of which is available for purchase. The energy of the place is just fantastic - friendly and welcoming, and the menu is what I'd call updated, modern Maine - interesting enough to keep a foodie like me coming back, but with a recognizable enough menu that you could bring your elderly great-aunt who only goes out once a year to the place and she'd love it.

We first encountered Robert's while driving back from a trip to York Beach. Tired, hungry, and a little sunburned, we thought it looked like a nice spot to stop for a quick lunch and a cold drink. That's where they got me, though...because there was Maine Lemonade. Oh, that lemonade. Cold River Blueberry Vodka, lemonade, and fresh blueberries. Summer perfection in a glass, and how I got started on my own Blueberry Vodka Lemonade kick. I'm not sure what came after that, but I seem to recall oysters. And sleeping on the way home.

Our next trip to Robert's was when we were in the area for a fall wedding...and I meant to blog it, I really did. But then my laptop died and I got busy and fall turned into winter and I insisted that I couldn't really remember the meal well enough so I just HAD to go back (but actually that's a white lie - there were oysters and bruschetta and crab cakes and delicious kale soup and a lot of beer and, well, you see where this is going). But I got my way, and we went back this past weekend, and here we are.

So, let's talk about oysters. No, actually, first let's talk about pub cheese :

This is what Robert's presents you with as you sit down...I call it "pub cheese", because that's the closest approximation my brain can make. It's mildly spicy with bits of olives and I think roasted peppers...and it's absolutely delicious. Perfect, of course, with a Maine Lemonade :).

Okay, NOW the oysters :

Robert's selection of oysters changes all the time, depending on what they get in that day. We usually get a bakers dozen, with a mix of whatever appeals to us. On this particular trip, the Cape Cods were definitely the best (though they were all delicious) - plump, with a salty-sweet taste of the sea. The oysters are served with both a traditional cocktail sauce and a really nice mignonette (a sauce made with shallots, herbs and vinegar which is often paired with oysters). I was a bit disappointed that they didn't have the Pemaquids this time out, which are definitely my favorites - but really, any fresh raw oyster is a treat.

The other must-have appetizer at Robert's is the lobster bruschetta (which I don't have a great picture of, but you're getting it anyway ):

Roasted Roma tomatoes, basil, garlic, cheese and plenty of luscious lobster, served over grilled ciabatta and drizzled with a balsamic glaze. Seriously one of the best things ever done to'll lick the plate and wish you had more. Yes, that good. Culinary Orgasm, indeed.

This particular trip I knew I wasn't hungry enough for a huge meal, so I stuck with a lobster roll :

This was actually old-school Maine perfect - a buttery grilled hot dog roll, a TON of lobster, and just enough mayonnaise to hold it together.

My dining companions chose fish and chips and a fried seafood platter, respectively. You can get an idea of what both meals looked like from the platter :

a SERIOUS platter of fried fishy goodness
This platter had not only the hugest onion rings I have ever seen in my life, but it also had sweet, juicy, delicious scallops with a kickass remoulade to dip everything in. My kind of fried, babies !

The only regret I have is that this trip really didn't showcase the inventiveness and originality of the menu - these are pretty run-of the mill choices, for us. Sometimes, though, that's exactly what you want.

In conclusion, if you find yourself in or near Kittery for any reason - get yourself to Robert's !

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