Red Sky Restaurant, Southwest Harbor
From Southwest Harbor's upper town dock, it's a 10-minute walk along the Clark Point Road to Red Sky. Diners who have stepped straight off their boats are welcome, in no small part because co-owner James Lindquist knows well the pleasures of boating and fine food. He and his siblings summered in Seal Harbor, where they learned to sail in wooden Bullseyes and were in and out of boats all day. The family was raised to appreciate fresh seafood and local produce whether it was wild blueberries picked from granite ledges or a mess of clams dug along the shore.
So when they opened Red Sky, Lindquist, his wife Elizabeth, and their niece Erika Lindquist sought to feature the finest local food in season. With executive chef Adam Bishop, they have kept the menu pared down and unpretentious so the dining experience is in keeping with the character of this small Maine coastal town. They also stay open year-round except for the month of January.
Red Sky, with its gray facade, charcoal trim and cheerful windowboxes, has an elegant air. But it's the kind of place where you can dine alone at the bar. Begin say, with a martini made with fresh mint. If Maine is going through a wet and raw spell, try the hot ginger toddy. Dinner can be as simple as several appetizers. Have a steaming bowl of duck soup, shrimp dumplings cooked in tamari ginger sauce, and a salad of organic baby greens tossed with blue cheese, caramelized pears and balsamic vinaigrette. Fresh crusty bread and a chilled glass of Honig Sauvignon Blanc complement the meal.
Red Sky can also be that special place to celebrate a birthday or anniversary and splurge on an elaborate dinner. Start with a Red Sky, a cocktail combining champagne, raspberry sorbet, and blood orange juice. As an appetizer, have a wild mushroom polenta Napoleon. For an entree, order New York strip topped with blue cheese and served with caramelized onions.
For dessert, savor a crème caramel. Cap the evening with a glass of port before strolling back to the dock and boat. True to its name, Red Sky at night is indeed a sailor's delight.
More information: open Friday through Tuesday, 5:30 - 9 p.m., through late spring, 7 days a week in summer (closed January). Location: 14 Clark Point Road, Southwest Harbor. Reservations (recommended in summer): 207-244-0476
Mussels and Softshell Clams in Fennel and White Wine
Serves 2 as appetizer
|1 quart fresh mussels
1 pint fresh softshell clams
1/4 fennel bulb thinly sliced
1 shallot minced
1 garlic clove minced or crushed
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup white wine
2 Tbsp. olive oil and/or clarified butter
salt and pepper
|In a high-sided sauce pan, over medium flame, heat olive oil or clarified butter. Sauté garlic and shallot until soft. Do not allow to brown. Add fennel, mustard, salt and pepper, and mix with garlic and shallot. Add mussels, clams, and white wine. Turn up heat. Cover and steam until shellfish open, about 8-12 minutes. Remove shellfish and place in individual bowls. Ladle broth over top.