The Veranda at the historic 1903 mansion turned luxury boutique hotel, the Balance Rock Inn, was my favorite dining experience we’ve had so far during our week in Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park for my birthday. This breathtaking oceanfront restaurant with strong Nordic influences uses wild-harvested, hyper-seasonal ingredients, a few molecular gastronomy techniques, and freshly caught seafood to create masterful expressions of flavor. By doing so, this exquisite restaurant takes diners on a tasting tour along Maine’s breathtaking rocky coastline, through beautiful meadows, and finally into Maine’s dense majestic forests.
Location: Bar Harbor, Maine
Address: 21 Albert Meadow
Inside Balance Rock Inn
Food Type: Wild Harvested, Hyper-Seasonal
Molecular Gastronomy & Seafood
Chef de Cuisine: Aaron Miles
Dining Experience: Ocean View Al Fresco
Price: $150+ per Person
Dress Code: Smart Casual +
Special Diets: Gluten-Free (not GF dedicated),
As soon as we stepped out onto the back dining patio from Balance Rock Inn’s main hotel, I was in awe of how spectacular the views from the restaurant were of the Atlantic Ocean and nearby islands. We could hear the waves crashing against the rocks, and the lush garden that leads right up to the ocean was awash in bright green native plants and blooming flowers, dotted with ivory statues.
Between the garden and the dining area is a heated swimming pool that wasn’t in use during dining hours, but helped set the mood of this splendid dining experience as the sunset sparkled over the pool’s water.
We dined outdoor on the oceanview patio, not too far from an outdoor fire pit and just beneath a beautiful trellis, blooming with what appeared to be jasmine. The evening was warm but the ocean breeze kept us cool and comfortable throughout our meal. I couldn’t get over how beautiful the views from the restaurant were, and this restaurant is now at the top of my list of places I’d love to visit again as soon as possible.
The Veranda’s Menu & Our Meals
Robin and I were in Maine to celebrate my birthday, and he arranged to have the staff surprise us with a bottle of champagne for the occasion. If you’ve not yet sipped champagne under a jasmine and ivy-scented trellis while the sounds of the ocean waves crash in the distance as the sun sets, please promise you’ll make time to visit The Veranda soon to do so because this was a truly unforgettable experience.
Please note that The Veranda’s menu is hyper-seasonal, which means that it changes often and what we ordered may not be available at another time, which is part of what makes dining here so special – there’s always something new to try!
To kick off our meal, our server brought us an amuse-bouche (if you’re unfamiliar with this term, check out my guide to culinary lingo!) along with their famous “The Best Bread We’ve Made So Far“, which was served with housemade smoked dulse butter. I couldn’t eat the bread of course, but Robin made short work of it and told me that it was indeed some of the best bread he’s ever had. The presentation of the red seaweed-infused butter set upon a river stone was a lovely representation of Maine’s natural beauty and was meant to accompany the bread course.
Next, we enjoyed a fresh Lump Crab appetizer with seasonal greens on top. This was so light and delicious, and the crab simply melted in the mouth.
For Robin’s main course, he selected the risotto with crème fraîche and pea sauce, which was rich, creamy, and had a silky smooth mouthfeel. The risotto was also unbelievably tasty, proving once again that dishes don’t need to be complex to have excellent flavor.
For my main course, I chose the hand-picked scallops which were prepared with salsify, parsnip purée, preserved lemon slices, fir ash, and caviar. My main course was very decadent and the scallops were perfectly seared, making every single bite a true delight. The caviar added a bit of salty sea essence to each bite, which was balanced out by the mild yet flavorful parsnip purée and delicate crunch of the salsify. If I could eat this every day, I would.
For our “dessert” we ordered rich coffee, which helped pep us up for stargazing later that night.
Final Thoughts on The Veranda
This was one of the finest meals I’ve ever enjoyed, and it made the long trek up the East Coast to Maine absolutely worth it in and of itself. I would truly drive back up the coast just to enjoy another fantastic meal at The Veranda. Everything was as fresh as could be, the flavor pairings were so enchanting and delightful, plus they had plenty of options for people with allergies or dietary restrictions, making it a great place for anyone who loves food to enjoy a beautiful meal. If you find yourself lucky enough to visit Bar Harbor, Maine sometime soon, do yourself a favor and visit The Veranda to eat at one of the best restaurants in the United States. I promise you won’t regret it.