Dined earlier this week at two Rockland, Maine, restaurants: One night meeting an old friend at In Good Company and another with friends at the Big Fish Cafe; completely different experiences, but both delivered good food and a fun time.
Smack downtown in Rockland’s version of a restaurant row, In Good Company has built a strong following by excelling at delivering what it promises. Chef/owner Melody Wofertz, a Culinary Institute of America grad, has created an equally chic and casual wine and tapas bar, an inviting space with bar, tables, even couch seating (be sure to look up the ceiling, with its elegant relief design.
We married a mix of tapas selections, including a charcuterie plate, stuffed peppers, and the day’s cheese selections, along with glasses of wine. Service was prompt, efficient, and friendly; food was delicious and plentiful (we split leftovers), and the atmosphere? Well, two hours passed in no time. This remains one of my go-to faves for a lighter meal (although there are larger plates, too), paired with nice wines.
On Route 1, just south of downtown, Big Fish is far less refined, but no less fun. Enter to a nice, somewhat cozy room with booths and tables. Here’s the secret: Ask for seating in the lounge, which has been decorated to make you feel as if you’re in a sunken ship (right down to the glowing portholes).
Big Fish specializes in—yeah, tough one here—seafood, although there are chicken, beef, and veggie choices. There’s a bit of a southwestern accent to some of the dishes—shrimp cocktail Yucatan, rockin’ lobstah nachos, fish tacos, crab and shrimp quesadilla—thanks to the owners’ California roots.
We began with a couple of starters for the table: crab rangoon with a sweet chile dipping sauce and fiesty fried mushrooms with ranch dip. Nothing earth shattering, but both were above average, which set the tone for the night, food wise. We were warned that our entrees would take a while, since a number of tables had come in a the same time. After the starters, we waited. And waited. And waited.
End game, it was worth the wait. On a friend’s recommendation, I had the clams linguini, which came with a garden salad and garlic bread. Big Fish makes its own dressings, and my bleu cheese vinaigrette enhanced a fresh, mixed-greens side salad. Unfortunately, my garlic bread was MIA, but before I could request it, a friend volunteered his, as he wasn’t going to eat it. In hindsight, I wish I’d had both his and my own as it was perfect for mopping up linguini juices. Mmmmm.