Harking back to the days of those carpeted restaurants with oversized menus, a gift shop and celebrity pictures on the wall, Warren's, happily, remains a thriving business that still favors focusing on the food, value and service over anything else.
If you remember the former Yoken's Thar She Blows in Portsmouth, N.H., and Mildred's Chowder House in Hyannis, Mass., then Warren's will strike a similar nostalgic, larger-than-life chord. Starting in 1940 as a six-stool, walk-up, clam and lobster stand, Warren's, today, seats more than 350 people, and has an open air deck, a good-sized comfy nautical-looking lounge, a 200 ft. boat dock, the Treasure Chest Gift Shop, a full-service bakery and terrific views of the Piscquatica River. The welcoming patterned green carpets, deep red ceilings, the picture of the wise old fisherman with pipe in hand located above the stone fireplace with white Christmas lights, and wall items like the 30-pound lobster and the latch hook rug showcasing more than 50 types of fisherman's knots provide a family-fun atmosphere. Outside, the mammoth, familiar colorful Warren's Lobster House sign with the huge lobster drawing serves as Kittery's unofficial skyline while back inside pictures of Carol Channing, Patti Paige, local politicians, as well as positive newspaper reviews in the lobby and hallway suggest that you've come to the right place. We felt that way instantly, greeted by a smiling young hostess in a Boston Bruins shirt (that's the spirit!), an older hostess that welcomed us like family and a salt-of-the-earth, pony-tailed middle-aged waitress with a quip or two, good knowledge of the vast menu, and a talent of being pleasant while meeting every one of her customers' needs -- and there were many!
The most crucial advantage Warren's has over other local seafood restaurants is that they have a lobster pound capable of holding 28 tons of lobsters, thus ensuring freshness of this delicacy! Obvously, the kitchen staff knows how to prepare the lobsters, too, as we can't remember ever having such tender lobsters.
Twin lobster special
from Warren's Lobster House
We enjoyed the twin-boiled
version for around $31.00 (of course, prices will vary depending upon
the time of year and lobster availability). We also tried a succulent
baked stuff sole
with stuffing, topped with creamy hollandaise sauce -- excellent!
The meals also included the 60-item salad bar featuring fresh
vegetables, cheeses, hummus, tabouli, beans, homemade breads and soups.
The salad bar, for many, serves as a full meal, but with all due
respect, we believe that when you're in Maine, you do as the Maine
With that in mind, you'll have plenty of seafood lunch and dinner choices ranging from the classics to more, modern, creative dishes (yes, they have steak, chicken and pasta dishes, too). Some of those seafood items: lobster stew, New England clam chowder, crab cakes, mussels (the most flavorful we can remember), lobster rolls, salmon, swordfish, Mahi Mahi, fried dinners (specializing in clams and also haddock and chips --delicious with its beer batter) and sole. In future visits, I look forward to trying the Mahi Mahi topped with pineapple salsa and the seafood jambalaya with sea scallops, fantail shrimp & mussels sautéed in garlic butter with Italian sausage, plum tomatoes, peppers, onions and rice.
For fans of adult beverages, Warren's has an extensive bar with local favorite brews like Sea Dog Blue Paws, Allagash White, Shipyard and Sebago Boat House Brown.
Additionally, on our visit, hundreds of other people dined at their heart's seafood content at 1:30 p.m. . We have been to other restaurants that are nearly empty at this time. Why is this? Well, the reality is that when a restaurant refuses to let go of its successful past while continuing to update and expand to accommodate customers, then the people will come -- in this case, in large crowds.
Warren's Lobster House, Water St., Kittery, Maine Tel. (207) 439-1630
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