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Excerpts from their review of February 2004
This prominent Victorian inn on the main street of this quiet unspoiled Maine coastal community is one of the original Maine seasonal summer hotels. With its three-story turret, wraparound porch with rocking chairs and overflowing flower boxes it is a favorite of photographers and artists. Julie VandeGraaf, who owned the Pink Rose Pastry Shop in Philadelphia for 18 years, and her husband Jack, purchased the inn in 2000. The pub is our favorite spot in the inn. Jack's fabulous collection of photographs, paintings and memorabilia of world leaders and events literally cover every available space on the walls. Some of the most distinctive are an original lithograph of Queen Victoria, a sepia portrait of Ghandi, and a watercolor of gondolas in Venice. Guests gather here for a drink, to talk about their travels, or to have dinner. In addition to the Passports Pub there's a sunny sitting room with a turret window seat and view of the harbor and a wide wraparound porch with wicker chairs.
Most of the rooms have king or queen-size beds. They have greatly enhanced the rooms to give them a comfortable old-fashioned summery feel, adding overhead fans, lots of antiques including Eastlake headboards to many of the beds, mismatched floral bed linens and pillows, lace curtains and bedding including down quilts and pillows, and lots of old prints, lithographs, and whimsical antique postcards.
Our favorites and the most romantic rooms are in the main building. The one most frequently selected by honeymooners is Room 1, the second floor turret room with a great view looking down Castine's elm tree lined Main Street toward the harbor. This sunny large room has a pair of wicker chairs facing the five windows of the turret, a king-size bed, and a redone bath with a marble vanity and clawfoot tub with a shower. Room 3, a summertime favorite, has a small balcony on the front of the inn overlooking the town. You have a good view yet have privacy as flower boxes surround the balcony. Other features are a queen-size bed with a white painted antique headboard and bureau and a big renovated bath with a clawfoot tub and shower. Room 4 is a large room with a king-size bed and matching bureau and a small newly renovated bath.
The six-room Perkins Cottage located just behind the inn is the oldest part of the inn. The suite with a king-size bed and small bath is a favorite as the sitting room has a wood-burning fireplace. We also like Room 5 as it is a bright sunny morning room overlooking the garden.
The two candlelit dining rooms have widely spaced tables with flowers on each, mismatched antique china, and jazz recordings playing in the background. We started with a bowl of small tender steamed mussels from Blue Hill, some of the best and sweetest we have eaten. Crab cakes are made from local fresh picked Stonington crabs. Local organic mixed green salad with Irish cheddar and spicy shrimp salad are other appetizers.
The exceptional bouillabaisse, a special, has a rich and flavorful broth, filled with white fish, mussels, lobster and clams. The tender lamb shank served with portobello mushrooms, oven dried tomatoes, and polenta, and grilled swordfish in a lemon broth with house made Greek sausage are popular. They always have grilled lobster served with different accompaniments. Favorite desserts made by Julie are profiteroles with homemade ice cream and chocolate sauce and gingerbread with warm apple compote and sabayon sauce.
For early risers fresh brewed coffee is set out in the hallway of each building. Breakfast, 8 to 9:30, is served at individual tables in the dining room or on the deck overlooking the side garden. Along with juices, a fresh fruit bowl, baked items, granola and yogurt there's a choice of two hot dishes. One is always scrambled eggs and bacon and a second option could be blueberry buttermilk pancakes or apple walnut French toast. Following breakfast borrow one of the inn's bikes to explore the town.
What to Do. This waterfront community, first settled by the French in 1613, has an impressive number of restored 18th and 19th century homes. Use one of the inn's bicycles to explore the quiet streets. Scattered throughout town are about one hundred markers that point out historic buildings and sites. This is a major craft area. Blue Hill, Deer Isle and Stonington have fine shops and numerous craft and art galleries. Favorites are the Leighton Gallery in Blue Hill and Blue Heron Gallery in Deer Isle. To get out on the water go kayaking from Castine or take the mailboat from Stonington to Isle au Haut.
For more information about the area please see Discerning Traveler's guide to "Down East Maine" which is available on their website www.discerningtraveler.com.