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New England Dining Reviews >>> Kennebunk Inn, Kennebunk, Maine (southern Maine)
 Kennebunk Inn, Kennebunk Maine

by Eric H.

KENNEBUNK, MAINE -- Of all the great Maine seaside restaurants with incredible views to choose from, we had to pick the Kennebunk Inn -- smack dab in the middle of a pedestrian inland downtown (not to be confused with the famed tourist-crazy neighboring Kennebunkport) with the only hopes of waterfront dining happening if a fire hydrant broke.

Lucky us. While others paid high prices for seafood soaked in breading and butter and crowds akin to a Superbowl game at the nearby waterfront tourist traps, we found the Kennebunk Inn to be totally void of pretensions, full of good-old fashioned New England charm, and offering some truly creative dishes that also happen to be edible (sometimes creative chefs can botch up a good dish by trying too hard).

Every one of our several visits has resulted in a wonderful dining experience. On our first visit away from our traditional seaside dining destination, the warm, inviting outside glow of this 1799 Inn (with charming guest rooms upstairs) hinted at good things to come. Upon entering, that premonition turned into reality with a friendly hostess bringing us into a dining room perfect for our anniversary. Elegant, understated candlelit room with stained glass windows, big-wide windows with well-chosen window dressing overlooking the placid nighttime Kennebunk Main Street, old world furnishings, and dampened acoustics to enhance quiet conversation, the Kennebunkport Inn defines the meaning of romantic dining.

Innkeepers/chefs Brian O'Hea and Shanna Katherine Horner O'Hea offer some of the best contemporary American cuisine we've sampled in New England. A great way to start the evening is with some homemade breads and a mixed greens salad with gorgonzola cheese --starches and vegetables have rarely tasted this fresh. For dinner, noteworthy dishes are the roasted rack of lamb with rainbow orzo, baby carrots, and rosemary oil; the cider planked seared salmon with potato rosti, apple chutney, and fried leeks; and the seared Filet mignon with Vermont cheddar and bacon gratin potato, house roasted tomatoes, wild mushrooms and bordelaise. Wonderfully displayed, incredibly flavorful, and hopelessly addictive, these entrees could have flaunted an elitist tone somewhere else by offering small portions at high prices. Here, in alignment with the friendly and pragmatic theme of the restaurant, ample portions are offered at reasonable prices.

The dinner entree menu changes, as do the deserts. Anything chocolate will do, as evidenced by several visits here.

Upon leaving, we studied the Kennebunk Inn and then glanced at the downtown. While it is not a tourist town, the authentic "Main Street USA" feel and the presence of a classic New England piece of architecture like the Kennebunkport Inn have an endearing quality. In Kennebunk, one doesn't feel rushed or expected to buy souvenir trinklets and t-shirts. The Kennebunk Inn reflects the town's spirit by not forcing its product on your soul and your wallet. It is there for you to enjoy, in the midst of a grand dining room built for meaningful conversation, great food and a relaxed feel. It is the ultimate southern Maine dining experience.

Kennebunk Inn, 45 Main Street, Kennebunk, Maine 04043, Tel. (207) 985-3351

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