Warning: This column might make you hungry. You could feel a sudden urge to jump into your vehicle and drive to Bangor.
This could result in severe depression — if you arrive when
The Fiddlehead Restaurant is closed or crowded.
The antidote: Take two whoopie pies and call for a reservation.
If you haven’t heard of the Fiddlehead Restaurant in Bangor, put it on your list for the next time you’re in the area. Two young ladies, Laura Albin (manager) and Melissa Chaiken (chef), own this lively place offering fine meals at reasonable prices.
Their creativity is evident as you peruse their menu. And because they want to highlight local food in season, they create a new menu three or four times a year! Melissa claimed for her new fall menu, she was “winging it.” I really love that kind of creativity.
We tried small plates of a variety of dishes to get an overall idea of their food. The verdict: amazingly delicious!
The starter of a very light cornbread was served with a drizzle of molasses. Yum. Both appetizers were great. Cana de cabre (a goat cheese), was baked with toasted pine nuts, honey and served with grilled bread.
If you want a spicy start, try the braised pork belly PB&J! A peanut sauce jazzed up with jalepenos and served with pineapple chutney made a tasty combination with the pork.
I am a sucker for grilled greens and their grilled romaine salad with stilton cheese did not disappoint.
For main courses, we tried pork tenderloin with hominy and kale stew, chicken and waffles, and pan seared salmon. My favorite was the cheddar chive waffles served with cornflake and pecan crusted chicken breast. Served with red-pepper jam, maple syrup and red wine jus, this was savory, sweet and spicy all rolled into one dish. Wow!
We always knew Maine moms could make great desserts, and now it turns out they’ve gone into business! This is the third restaurant we’ve reviewed where a worker’s mom cooks the desserts. The bartender’s mom makes the lemon tart and the whoopie pies.
Although we were very full, we were talked into trying the lemon tart for two. It was perfect with a light, flaky crust, a little whipped cream and blueberry coulis.
The first thing you’ll notice upon entering Fiddlehead’s beautiful dining room is the high level of excitement and enthusiasm — and that’s just from the staff. They appear to be having a whole lot of fun working here.
Be prepared to enter with a smile. I guarantee you will leave with one.
Customers are obviously just as excited and enthusiastic about this place — so enthusiastic that you probably won’t get to eat dinner here without a reservation. When I asked some Bangor-area friends if they’d ever eaten here, they said they’d tried, but couldn’t get in!
Of course, there are times you can walk right in, but be advised that reservations are recommended. They also welcome walk-ins for service at the bar for drinks and desserts.
The only regret of this visit was that I had no room to try their “Big Black Cow,” a beer float with Hitachino Espresso Stout. Next visit, I will start my meal with this!
We were blessed with a very knowledgeable server, Lori “La” Leonard, a photographic artist who — despite 7 years of experience at a high-end restaurant in Bar Harbor — was on a waiting list for six months for a position at Fiddlehead.
Checking out their unusual list of beers, I opted for an “Original Flag Porter” from England’s Darwin Brewery after hearing its story. When divers in the mid-1990s recovered the HMS Flag that sank in 1827, they found beer below decks. Darwin took the beer and yeast and recreated this delicious, chocolaty brew.
With our dinner, La recommended a delicious Argentinean Malbec — based on her own visit to Argentina! That’s the kind of first-hand advice we valued and received throughout our meal.
First out of the kitchen was cornbread and molasses, along with another story. The night they opened the restaurant, they had no butter and grabbed molasses as a substitute. Diners loved it and this became a tradition. We liked it, too!
A lot of things impressed me here, from the variety of glassware to the attentive service — no plates or silverware stayed on our table for very long after we were finished with them.
Linda provided a good write-up on the food — most of which we shared, and all of which I loved — but I did get the fish chowder all to myself. It featured delicate flaky fish in a light, salty broth. Very tasty.
The pan-seared salmon was also all mine — the salmon perfectly rare, the dijon-honey vinaigrette fabulous and the pickled fiddleheads very flavorful.
Prices are very modest with appetizers and salads between $6 and $10, and entrées from $14 to $21 — incredibly cheap for the high quality of food here.
Have you left for Bangor yet? Call for a reservation first!