Lobster benedict, BLT croissants, and seafood chowder are just a handful of the homestyle comfort foods one may find scrawled on the Daily Specials chalkboard at Charlie's Diner. The small restaurant specializes in homemade dishes, desserts, and making your grandmother jealous of its biscuits. Run by a mother-and-daughter team, the diner serves its comforting classics for all meals of the day
The culinary comfort slingers at Mae's Café and Bakery craft bountiful meals for breakfast and lunch, with eight blends of benedicts and more than two dozen sandwiches. Enter the whitewashed historic home for a hot hunter's breakfast, wherein eggs join forces with corned-beef hash ($8.95) to fill hearty appetites and camouflage bodies as they stalk glasses of orange juice. Plate-sized stacks of blueberry pancakes drink streams of maple syrup that cascade downward with slow-rolling sweetness ($6.50). Diners can also lull hunger to sleep with an open-faced Maine crabmeat melt, blanketed in gooey cheddar and tucked in a moist, sourdough bed ($12.95) to wait for its bedtime story.
Snagging its name from one of the schooners built in Kennebunk's adjacent 19th-century shipyards, Federal Jack's makes its own mark by pairing creative pub fare with flavorful ales brewed in-house. Taste buds set sail on their own toothsome odyssey with an appetizer of fried calamari ($8.95) and house favorites such as the Fiery Volcano burger, whose fearsome flow of hellfire relish is capped with a ground beef, turkey, or veggie burger and a sunny-side-up egg ($9.95). Smooth seas await restricted dieters—including vegetarians, gluten-avoiders, and the sugar-suspicious—with several modifiable options and menu staples, such as the hummus sandwich ($7.95) and the spinach, ricotta, and red-pepper-layered eggplant milanese ($13.95). Diners can quickly win a stare-down or guess the poker hand of the hot open-faced turkey, an autumnal treat served atop stuffing bread and dressed with cranberry sauce ($9.95).
Eschewing modern mixes and thickeners, the dessert designers at Maple's transform fresh milk, eggs, and cream into a host of more than three dozen gelato and sorbetto flavors crafted in-store in front of salivating patrons. Maple's ice engineers buy ingredients directly from Maine's local family farms and embrace traditional artisanal methods such as working with microbatches and running chunky cream through a cotton gin.
Though Maine native Harding Lee Smith specializes in brunch and dinnertime comfort food at The Front Room, it is sometimes difficult to tell the two meals apart. From his open kitchen, Harding assembles local ingredients into many traditional breakfast items, like pancakes drenched in real maple syrup. But he also pairs poached eggs with breakfast gnocchi stuffed with potatoes or veggies. Dinner is likewise varied—dishes range from beef short ribs braised in porcini mushrooms to sweet potato hashes made with duck confit and cherry pepper vinaigrette.
Regardless of what Harding serves when, it's working. The Front Room has garnered critical acclaim for both its cuisine and its tasty cocktails, which include plenty of seasonal, house-infused libations. Feasts unfold inside The Front Room's cozy dining area, where guests can nestle into wooden Hancock chairs named for their uncanny resemblance to John Hancock's father, Seat.