Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Maine Part 3: Waiting for Chase’s Daily

The second new discovery made on our recent holiday in Maine (although truth be told, discovery isn’t quite accurate, we planned a whole day around getting there), was a restaurant/cafe/farmer’s market called Chase’s Daily in Belfast. Here’s a photo of the restaurant and another place people raved to us about that’s located next door (The Lost Kitchen) so you can take a gander at the beautiful architecture in this coastal town, which in some ways, maybe the brickwork, reminded me of Belgium.

Now before I rave about the place I will put forth my two complaints:

1. Chase’s Daily does not have a website. Which may seem quaint (some of you have heard me rant about this before…), but I’m sorry, if you’re running a food establishment in this day and age it’s not charming to make it difficult to find out information about you. Your mystique also puts you at the mercy of any truculent poster on Yelp who’ll be more than happy to point out your flaws and warn people about your terrible service (see #2). To counter this lack of customer outreach, I can provide you with this charming short film about the Chase family that will make you forget that the internet even exists, before you’re overwhelmed by an urge to move to Maine, start a farm, have babies who will work the fields with you, and one day open up a bakery. Here’s the FILM.

#2 The service, as vividly pointed out by many Yelpers, was pretty lacking (Which begs the question: if you love the food, how bad are you willing to let the service get before you walk out and never come back?) When we first came in, I swear the hostess spun around twice and then hid in a corner. Yes, there were nine of us barreling in, but still–Your place is popular! People will come! Why is this surprising?! It turned into one of those uncomfortable situations where people start coming in behind you and assume you’ve already put your name down because you’re loitering in the foyer, so they pounce on the hostess when she emerges from her hiding spot to get their names on the list, and you have to explain to them— without sounding likes an anxiety-riddled pushy east coaster— that you actually haven’t gotten your name on the list yet and to back-the-F-off. Thanks.

And then a waitress finally noticed us and very enthusiastically explained that it would be at least 45 minutes for us to get a table; and when she could see that that information wouldn’t deter us, she actually upped it, “I mean an hour…at least one hour until you’ll get seated!” There were booths for 4 to 6 people being occupied by 2 people drinking coffee, and a waitstaff that clearly wanted to be doing anything (hot yoga, in-line skating, batik dying) but waiting tables. So was it still worth it? I have to say, yes. Especially when Belle got to eat this ridiculous berry tart while waiting patiently for a table…What also made it worthwhile is that miraculously two parties failed to show up when their names were called (clearly the doomsday waitress had an effect on them) so we scored their tables!

OK, enough about sketchy service, look at these beautifully tended vegetables in the market at the back of the restaurant:

Once we were seated, and ignored our waitress’s sassy backtalk, we enjoyed a robust farm-to-table meal. As I mentioned, the ingredients largely come from the family farm, so this is a place for vegetarian dishes: Eggplant pizza, salads with arugula and corn or beets and walnuts, fried tofu sandwich, green chile spiked enchiladas, pasta with fresh tomato sauce. One of my favorite things was the simplest—a starter dish of crisp apples, oat biscuits, and gouda…

I feel like I need to be reminded sometimes how something this simple is a perfect meal in itself, if all the ingredients are at their best.

We will be back next summer, this time with a game plan. Separate, conquer, wear batik.

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