50/50 Dinner in Cape Elizabeth
To the food purist, tampering with a classic is sacrilege.
That’s how I feel about Maine’s ubiquitous lobster bisque. Leave it alone. Butter, cream, milk, lobster fumet, coral, or variations thereof, are the formulation for this classic soup. When I see it on restaurant menus—whether at a lobster pound or a fine dining establishment--I expect it to be exactly that. Granted, individual chefs tweak the dish to their own liking. But for me, it must still retain an unadulterated essence of lobster.
So it was that I ordered the Lobster Bisque for my first course at the Sea Glass restaurant that operates out of the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth as my guage to test the chef’s mettle.
To digress a bit, the inn was extensively renovated a few years ago, changing the drab rooms and suites into trendy, boutique-hotel quality spaces. And so too went the old restaurant, which was a dining room of such deadly deeds that only the desperate would enter.
Under the direction of Chef Michael Kaldrovich, originally from Argentina before moving on to stints at California restaurants and clubs, they have managed to create a stylish venue for Cape Elizabeth dining.
The clubby dining room overlooks Crescent Beach and is attractive enough with lots of richly veneered paneling and white-clothed tables spaced far enough apart to afford privacy.
As for Kaldrovich’s version of Maine Lobster Bisque, it was off-balance. His overuse of olive oil as a decorative garnish was overwhelming; these iridescent pools of dark green olive oil floating on an orange pink surface looked more like an op-art print shower curtain than a passing touch of color.
If the start of my dinner was disappointing, my dinner companion’s choice of the Maine shrimp ceviche as a first course was far more successful.
We were also served a little “muse,” as our competent waitress described it, that was liver pate on crostini with a dollop of figs marinated in sangria. They were delicious.
For a main course I had the rack of lamb. Lamb is lamb you might say, and this rack was workmanlike, cooked to order—pink—and tender. The lamb, however, was too fatty and would have been better served as double chops rather than thin single cuts. The accompanying side dish of mustard-spiked spaetzle were nearly inedible, having the texture of shredded swizzle sticks when they should have been fluffy poached morsels of pasta..
My dinner mate ordered the pan roasted cod, which was beautifully prepared and a very successful dish.
For dessert we chose a collection of three sorbets, which were very good, and an ice cream concoction called Peanut Buster Parfait composed of vanilla and peanut butter ice creams, caramelized banana, hot fudge sauce and honey roasted peanuts. It was a sweet-tooth lover’s delight.
You might say dinner was 50-50. I was not happy with mine but my dinner mate had no qualms at all.
The restaurant was fully booked. In fact we couldn’t get a table until 8:30. Other than a few lackluster eateries in nearby South Portland or the Blackpoint Inn dining room down the road in Prouts Neck, which is closed this time of year, pickings are slim in this seaside suburban enclave.
Even though the proximity of Portland’s restaurants are stiff competition for a place like the Sea Glass, it can still come off as a decent alternative if you’re a guest at the hotel, live in the vicinity, or merely need a change of scenery.
John Golden makes no bones about sharing his opinion, if you'd like to share yours, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.