When you think Maine, you think lobster!!! I mean, you can't help but think about this bright red crustacean when it's symbol is plastered just about everywhere you look, especially on Mt. Desert Island, the third largest island on the eastern seaboard, where my running partner and I recently ran the MDI Marathon. My partner in crime, Dr. Mark Shachner, is a seasoned marathon runner who had the pleasure (or nightmare) of running this particular marathon 2 years ago and fell in love with the course, extreme challenges and all, which starts at Main Street in Bal Harbor and finishes in Southwest Harbor.
Fast forward 2 years later, there we were, staying at his friend's beautiful home in Somesville, excited to tackle the MDI Marathon together!
And as I ask at every restaurant...no, there were NO VEGAN CUPCAKES for dessert!!! Aside from that, the SSC was so accommodating that we found ourselves there 2 more times, once for lunch where they make a homemade vegan black bean patty served either in a wrap or ciabatta roll...so spicy, hearty and savory which we both thoroughly enjoyed!!! Then, we rewarded ourselves (a promise I keep) with some homemade skins-on fries accompanied by a coffee stout chaser post race! A little Sunday football to boot! Although Mark enjoys plant-based meals, he finally indulged in what Bar Harbor is famous for...a lobster roll! After all, he is NOT a veg but VERY veg friendly! It's important to be both accepting and supportive of one another!
On the same street, we stumbled upon Gringo's, the locals' hang out, where they offer casual fresh mex! There are many healthy choices, all satisfying, topped with homemade salsa. I created my own burrito which was very filling, I actually left some over which is rare, especially before a race!!!
Another restaurant we have on our short list to try is China Joy, which seems like typical fare but I did notice that Sawyer's Market in Southwest Harbor sold pre-cooked, packaged vegan dumplings and noodles prepared by China Joy which looked very fresh and appetizing. That market also offered a homemade vegan potato soup but unfortunately it wasn't ready yet when we had stopped in. By the way, I love the idea of these little grab-n-go boxed vegan delights (chinese, sushi, sandwiches) which are becoming increasingly popular in either grocer's/convenient story fridges or airports but sometimes they can be a bit soggy or taste like they have expired, even though the date shown is not. Eat a Pita, also in Southwest Harbor, is another one we wanted to check out but didn't have time, as they offer casual mediterranean pitas/burgers/salads/sandwiches with lots of veg option. I especially like the sound of their spicy vegetarian chili, where they say, "you'll wonder where the beef went!"
The biggest disappointed was at McKay's Public House, where we actually made reservations. The restaurant was so charming, the air so crisp and inviting, that we chose to sit in their outdoor patio area under a big heater. The salads were tasty enough, as were the crispy sweet potato fries, but the curried vegetable dish I ordered consisted of what appeared to be frozen vegetables over very bland rice. The worst part was the piece of paper I found in the dish... must have been from the box of frozen veggies lol. Our server apologized, quickly removed the dish and scratched it from the bill. Oh well... at least I filled up on the warm bread with dipping oil when we sat down. They all can't be winners. Next time, we will try Lompac Cafe, with their many plant-based options on the menu PLUS dessert...bittersweet chocolate mousse made vegan and gluten free with almond milk! They have sorbet as well. I can't believe I missed that one!!! I'm always in search of vegan desserts to sample other than FRUIT!!!
One last place, I promise! Reel Pizza Cinerama, a stone's throw from SSC, is where you can catch a flick and customize your vegan pizza with either white or wheat crust and lots of interesting sauces/toppings/soy cheese. I lied...there's The Friar's Pub, at the Black Friar Inn, where they have vegan pancakes for breakfast and make their own granola, served with fresh fruit.
I would be remiss not to mention how impressed I was with the pre-race pasta dinner organized by many friendly and welcoming race volunteers at Mt. Desert High School. As I walked up to get my mound of plain white penne pasta, (who needs fiber before a race?) I couldn't believe my eyes as I saw a sign that read "Marinara Vegan!" Rather than top the pasta, I ate it like tomato soup! Yum! Since the race was sponsored by Fiore olive oil, bottles were presented like salt and pepper on the tables so I feasted on lotsa pasta topped with olive oil and nutritional yeast that I brought from home. Attention vegans: NEVER leave home without your NY to ensure your RDA of B12- it goes with everything!!!
Although I fell in love with MDI, it was no love affair between me and the marathon! I look forward to returning to this spectacular island as long as there are no races on the calendar! Can't wait to check out those places we didn't get to as well as the new ones that I'm sure will pop up between now and then. Since Bal Harbor is generally very seasonal, check operating hours beforehand. For now I will pray that upon my return, I will be able to find a vegan cupcake, rising out from above the plethora of local blueberry pies, popovers, moon pies, salt-water taffy and fudge. I can hear the harps now...."laaaaaa." Then perhaps I will run the MDI Marathon again!!!
Training with a conscience; staying firmly planted...VeganGirlAthLetes