Despite the gorgeous views of the water in Camden, it can be surprisingly hard to find a waterside place to have a drink before 4 p.m. Waterfront to the rescue.
This 40-year-old Camden institution lives up to both its name and its motto of “cozy, friendly, and fun,” serving as a center for the community and tourists alike to gather year-round. Waterfront makes its food with local ingredients, hires local youth and is a welcoming environment, whether in front of the fireplace or the beautiful wooden bar during the winter or on the spacious shaded patio in the summer. There are even gorgeous fresh flowers in the bathrooms. As an added winter bonus – when that time comes – coat hooks are plentiful throughout the restaurant.
It was a gorgeous summer day when my friends and I visited, so after looking longingly at the stunning indoor bar, we headed to the deck to sit by the water. The special summer cocktail menu offered nine drinks from $5 to $11; I went with the $11 pear Bellini (elderflower liqueur, pear puree and prosecco). There were 15 white or rosé wines and nine red wines, all between $7 and $12 per glass. The beer menu had eight draft beers, five of which were from Maine, from $2.25 to $7, as well as eight bottles ($3.50 to $4) and four cans ($5 to $6).
My pear Bellini arrived with the remainder of the individual prosecco bottle so that I could add more of the bubbly as I drank down the cocktail from the glass. (Option B: Drink Prosecco directly from bottle while yelling “I don’t need no stinkin’ glass!”) The cocktail was perfectly balanced, with just the right amount of elderflower to avoid that cloying taste that it can sometimes have.
Service was excellent and surprisingly rapid, given how crowded the patio was. Our server informed us that the restaurant is known for its lobster Cobb salad and crab sandwich, a crab, bacon, and avocado melt with cheddar, grilled on sourdough bread. Not wanting to hurt our server’s feelings, my friends and I ordered both of those items, along with a cup of clam chowder and a cup of that day’s special soup, a chilled toasted coconut banana soup.
Both soups were great; the herbs really stood out in the chowder, which had nicely-sized chunks of clam and potato, and the toasted coconut banana soup was the perfect light refreshment on a warm summer day. The lobster Cobb salad (fresh lobster, lettuce, avocado, bacon, celery, tomato, carrot, hard-boiled egg, crumbled blue cheese and a Cobb vinaigrette made in-house) wasn’t anything special, and all of us agreed that the lettuce really needed to be cut into smaller pieces, but the real star of the show was the crab melt, which I ordered without the mayonnaise. It looked rather ordinary, but it was without question the freshest, lightest, most flavorful crab I have ever tasted, and the ingredients were in such perfect proportion that the final bite tasted just as extraordinary as the first. I would absolutely get that sandwich again on a future visit.
The lunch menu is extensive, offering something for everyone. Appetizers range from $5 to $15, salads from $5 to $22, sandwiches from $10 to $20, and seafood from $18 to $26. There’s also a separate dinner menu with a wider range of entrées.
WHERE: 48 Bayview St., Camden
PHONE: (207) 236-3747
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day
AMENITIES: Enormous outdoor shaded patio, indoor fireplace
BOTTOM LINE: Great year-round destination for locals and tourists alike, with a menu large enough to appeal to a variety of preferences (but, seriously, get the crab melt).
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes