Years ago I lived in Round Pond, and I still have a soft spot for this lovely little village by the sea. Wrapped around a cove, the round pond that begat its name, it’s home to a handful of artisan’s studios and the always-fun Granite Hall Store (a real penny candy counter, toys, curios, kitchen items and gifty goods with a nautical accent downstairs; antiques, books and British woolens upstairs; and an ice cream window serving Gifford’s). On the harborfront are two dueling lobster shacks, facing each other across the road/dock and The Anchor Inn.
On a hot summer afternoon or evening, when I’m craving lobster, I head to Round Pond Lobster, one of the two shacks. RP is the less fussy of the two. Order at the window, grab a picnic table on the dock and unload everything you’ve brought to accompany the crustaceans–wine, salads, bread, dessert, etc. See, RP sells lobster and only lobster (an a few go-withs). Best deal: A one-pound dinner, which includes the bug, an ear of corn, a bag of steamers and a bag of chips. Depending upon market price and shell, it usually runs about $9 to $16. Not too shabby, eh?
And talk about fresh. One time when we went, owner Buddy Poland said in his deep Maine accent: “It’ll be a minute.” With that, he closed the window, walked to the dock, got in a dinghy and motored out to a lobster car for another crate of the critters. Took all of 10 minutes, maybe.
Now Muscongus Bay Lobster is a dite bit fancier and much larger and it even has a section of seating that’s somewhat sheltered. The menu has more choices, too. Really, it’s personal preference–some folks head there, others to RP. We’re just conditioned to RP, but I’d recommend choosing the one with the shortest line or open tables.
If the weather’s not perfect or, as in Friday night when the black flies were feasting, head to The Anchor Inn. It’s a full-service restaurant, and it does a great job, especially with seafood. Not fancy, mind you, but not a diner or purely local joint, either. And the setting is fabulous–try to reserve a table on the screened porch for a front row seat on the harbor.
The Anchor’s been here for more than 20 years under the helm of chef/owner Rick Hirsch and his business partner Jean Kerrigan. RIck’s a Johnston & Wales grad, and he’s committed to sourcing local ingredients, from oysters and lobsters to mushrooms and produce. (Sister restaurant to The Anchor is the Damariscotta River Grille in Damariscotta.) After dinner, stroll up the road to the Granite Hall Store for ice cream or other treats.