Following a nice sunset walk at Pemaquid Beach on the freakishly warm Wednesday earlier this month, it seemed a celebratory cocktail was in order.
It was one of those days you don’t want to see end. Shaw’s Wharf, the iconic lobster shack on the water, wasn’t yet open for the season, so I ventured to The Harbor Room, just up Route 130 in New Harbor.
Formerly called Samoset Restaurant, it’s been completely redone and was quite busy on that warm Wednesday in early May.
The nautical theme is tastefully done, with a wooden skiff, a wooden kayak and a very large wooden canoe hanging from the ceiling of the bar area. There are old ropes, paddles and beautiful coastal images by local photographers.
It’s one of those type of places with a bar area to the right and dining to the left. As you might suspect, I headed straight to the bar side, where there are three types of seating – high -ops, booths and bar chairs. Above the bar are four large TVs, which on this night were tuned to the Bruins, Red Sox, tennis and an NBA playoff game.
To toast the early arrival of pseudo-summer, I chose a craft cocktail called Blueberries for Sal ($8), which featured blueberry puree, Dolin Blanc, Belvedere, elderflower liqueur, thyme syrup and sparkling wine. It’s one of nine cocktails on the menu, ranging in price from $5 for a non-alcoholic option to $11 for the Good Old Time-ah, with Split Rock Bourbon, molasses bitters and Split Rock Bourbon maple syrup. Split Rock Distilling is in nearby Newcastle and also makes gin and vodka, according to the company website.
The Blueberries for Sal cocktail was fruity, fizzy and refreshing. My dining companion stuck with the blueberry theme, ordering a Cold River blueberry vodka and cranberry juice ($10). Another drink that caught my eye was The 207: vanilla milk, Allen’s coffee brandy and caramel syrup for $7.
There’s beer and wine and a separate list for specialty martinis. There you will find the Harbor Room Cosmopolitan ($10) and a drink called It’s Ya Birthday! with Frangelico, lemon vodka and cream for $12.
To go with the decor, the menu has plenty of seafood, including appetizers of fresh Pemaquid oysters, roasted calamari, steamed mussels, sesame seared tuna and fried green tomatoes with Maine crab meat. For the landlubbers to start, there are chicken wings and tenders, spicy green beans and various salad options.
When you check out the rest of the offerings, there are more fish dishes, steak, pot roast, meatloaf and pasta, including shrimp scampi and lobster mac and cheese.
I went for a haddock sandwich, which comes fried, broiled or blackened with your choice of fries, cole slaw or chips for $12. I chose broiled fish and french fries, figuring I’d be a little good and a little bad at the same time. The fish was good, the fries were better and the tartar sauce was homemade with capers. Also of note were the pickles – not the limp, from the jar kind, but thick and crispy and tasty.
From our seats at a high-top, I could see the large outside deck, which sometimes serves as a landing spot for live music. If you plan to become a regular, there’s a mug club and the restaurant is open year-round.
For those of us who live inland, it’s just the beginning of “let’s take a drive to the coast” season.
WHERE: 2477 Bristol Road, New Harbor
PHONE: (207) 677-0178
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 5-8 p.m. Wednesday; 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
AMENITIES: Big outdoor deck, occasional live music, four large TVs above the bar
BOTTOM LINE: Though it doesn’t have a water view, the Harbor Room nails the drinks and food, making it a good place to stop when visiting Colonial Pemaquid, walking the beach or catching the boat to or from Monhegan.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes