Dorothy Cannell: I love late spring in Maine even accompanied by days of rain and still chilly temperatures. Bliss to look out my windows and see green everywhere and walk around the cove near our house with dog Teddy in tow, searching for sea glass before it gets picked over by tourists. Another cause for celebration is when favorite restaurant, Chez Michel in Lincolnville Beach, reopens for the season on Mother’s Day.
My husband Julian and I heard enthusiastic reports of it from neighbors when we moved to Northport five years ago, and we have thought of it as ‘our place’ ever since. Since moving a half-mile or so from us, my sister and her husband also speak of it as such. The four of us have had some wonderful evenings there. On one occasion we met a friend of Julian’s from his Wednesday and Thursday bridge group leaving as we were going in. His last name is Lavender, which I think would be quite wonderful for a character in a future book. He graciously said I could have the use of it. Not yet decided whether the character will be male of female. His first name is David which could be converted to Davida. Whoever it is will live in a white, picket-fenced cottage surrounded by cats and be an avid knitter. My father taught my sister and me to knit, and I see it as a manly as well as feminine art.
Julian told me recently that David had decided he’d reached the age when it was time for him to leave Maine and live with one of his sons in Massachusetts. So this past Tuesday we took him for a farewell dinner at Chez Michel, where he’d been in the habit of going even more frequently than we do. One of those bitter sweet occasions. We sat on the upper level looking towards the ocean with its ferry to Islesboro and dotting of sail boats. The atmosphere warm and welcoming as always. Julian and I usually think we know what we will order but the menu offers so many tempting choices we frequently change our minds.
Included in the Starter selection are Raw Maine Pemaquid oysters served on the half shell,
Michel’s Rabbit Pate, Crab Cakes served with Rouille and Clams – either fried with tartar sauce, or steamed and served with broth and butter. The Chef’s Specialties include Coquille St. Jacques, Duck Au Poivre, Chicken Béarnaise, Lamb Shank, Beef Bourguignon and Haddock Oscar – lightly breaded, pan fried haddock filet topped with fresh asparagus and Hollandaise sauce. David decided on the latter. Julian had ordered it on our last visit and said it was the best haddock he’d ever eaten. But he is also a fan of the lamb shank and went with that. I had a beef filet with Béarnaise sauce. The three of us had the potato croquets and garden salads, and shared a desert. All are marvelous.
There is something essentially, wonderfully human about sharing a meal in happily familiar surroundings. It is an evening I will remember. I enjoyed hearing some of David’s life story, liked his sense of humor, and admired his buoyant spirit. When I asked what he would miss most about Maine, he paused and looked around the room.
“This place,” he said wistfully.