One Dock, Kennebunkport

Last weekend I had the opportunity to work as guest bartender at One Dock, —a restaurant nestled into the heart of The Kennebunkport Inn. Though not one of my regular haunts, based upon the reaction of the patrons, it quickly became apparent that the restaurant had recently undergone a significant change of aesthetic. Attractive new banquettes ensconce the lounge area, and a gorgeous montage of lobster boats adorns the far wall. I also discover that most guests do not appreciate the increasing crescendo of my voice after 11:30 p.m., and that khaki pants, as per the restaurant’s uniform, are not a very flattering look for a man of my size.

I return for dinner a few days later and settle into one of the most comfortable dining room chairs I’ve experienced in quite some time. Sitting by the fireplace, I become at ease as sunlight pours in through the large picture windows. There is a definite French nautical theme to this dining room, dominated by various shades of blue contrasted with stark white. Just a short walk down the hall lays another, more spacious dining area, lined with bookshelves and also boasting its own fireplace.

My dining companion for the evening happily agrees with my choice of Bodegas Beronia Rioja Crianza. This juicy, medium bodied Tempranillo, rife with flavors of red fruit and oak, will be nicely suited to handle a range of foods from off the menu. It is particularly delicious with our amuse, a salty, intensely garlicky olive tapenade, served on herbed crostini. The tapenade actually reminds me of a puttanesca sauce, and leaves me wanting more, perhaps to take home and toss with squid ink pasta, but I think I’m getting a bit off-track here.

Initial appetizers include a half-dozen Spinney Creek oysters, served with a lemon basil granita. The bright, flavorful granita both cools down and contributes a pleasing texture to the plump, briny oysters, which are accentuated further with a squeeze of lemon.

Grilled flatbread is topped with fresh Maine crabmeat and a generous portion of garlic, which I enjoy very much. Chopped scallions give a nice crunch against the crispy, doughy flatbread and rich white sauce, topped with both mozzarella and provolone cheese.

While awaiting entrées we are presented with warm garlic knots, which I can most accurately describe as a delicious cinnamon bun sans cinnamon, avec garlic. An homage to hotels everywhere, the butterball is best when folded into the flaky dough and allowed to melt all the way through. These are, to put it bluntly, outrageously delicious.

After a brief and welcome pause, our maincourses begin to arrive, starting with grilled Ahi tuna, served rare with wasabi mashed potatoes and sweet, soy-glazed carrots, and a creamy, ginger lime aioli. All of the flavors work in harmony with the mild, meaty tuna. Our second dish, the beef rib eye, is a bit peculiar though, as it arrives perfectly cooked but lacking a key element. The hallmark of the rib eye is its sweet outer layer of fat, which provides a pleasing contrast of texture and flavor. A dollop of horseradish dill butter adds interest, but the meat itself is a bit tough, and more reminiscent of filet mignon. The single, continuous string of hand-cut curly fries served alongside is crispy and especially good when absorbing the juices from the steak. The last few sips of the Rioja tie everything together beautifully.

For dessert, the clear choice is the Moxie float, loaded up with vanilla ice cream and garnished with a wedge of cashew brittle. Because Moxie has a pleasant, herbaceous quality to begin with, the float maintains a refreshing nature after most of the ice cream has melted and integrated throughout.

The Kennebunkport Inn has been a staple in this town for quite some time, so it’s nice to see that both locals and tourists alike have responded positively to the restaurant’s makeover. The food requires no such changes however, as is apparent by the steady stream of returning guests.

One Dock Sq. | Kennebunkport | 207.967.2621 |

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