Sea Glass at the Inn by the Sea, Cape Elizabeth

I’ve never been to the Sea Glass restaurant located inside the Inn by the Sea, so on a recent, unseasonably warm December morning, I drive out to visit the property. On the way, I stop by Crescent Beach to take a stroll—there’s no one around, and the walk is refreshing and calming. Feeling invigorated, I continue on to the inn, located on Bowery Beach Road. I’ve heard it overlooks the ocean, and is known for its spectacular views, but I didn’t expect to see such an abundance of natural light inside the inn as well. The reception area is open and airy with high ceilings—there’s a lounge and bar area to one side, and a dining room to the other. Opposite the front entrance are two glass doors that open to a large deck. The view is picturesque, and I can already imagine eating outside during the summer months.

When I return later for dinner, the trees lining the entranceway are lit with white lights, giving the inn a warm and inviting glow. Once inside, I notice people eating and drinking in the lounge. There’s a Christmas tree in the corner, and it looks both cozy and casual.

As I am led to the dining room I see it’s small, but not crowded, and the seats are incredibly comfortable. Windows line one wall for optimal ocean views, and there’s a large wine case along the opposite wall. A handful of early reservations are finishing their meals as I arrive—a young couple, two older women, and a family. I get the impression that some of the guests live in the area and dine at the restaurant frequently.

It’s a relaxing atmosphere, and I take the time to settle in, order a cocktail, and look over the menu. I chat with the server and even have an opportunity to visit with chef Mitchell Kaldrovich.

Kaldrovich talks about his cooking style, Argentine background, and the importance of using Maine ingredients. He says he’s proud to participate in the Out of the Blue Sustainable Seafood Initiative—a program that promotes underutilized, local seafood from local waters. He makes the effort to connect with local fishermen, farmers, and his guests.

I know I’ll order seafood, but it’s winter and I want a full-bodied wine. The 2011 Crois de Susana Balbo malbec rose is the perfect solution. From Mendoza, Argentina, its salmon-colored, cold, and dry.

The meal begins with a small bite—a pumpkin and ricotta croquette with a dollop of spicy aioli. The next amuse is a miniature portion of warm beet soup served with feta and a hint of orange. It’s heavenly.

Starting with a salad, I order the marinated beets with baby greens and the romaine hearts with local apples. The beet salad is earthy, served with pumpkin seeds and Pineland Farms goat cheese. The romaine salad is bright, with contrasting flavors of dried cranberries, shaved Parmesan, and toasted pine nuts.

The vegetarian courses are up next—handmade gnocchi and baked fig and manchego strudel. The handmade ricotta gnocchi is served with a generous helping of homemade garden basil pesto, wilted spinach, pine nuts, and shaved Parmesan. I adore pesto, and this particular one is delicious—bright green, fresh, and not too heavy on the garlic. The gnocchi are perfect little pillows of dough, but not too heavy. The strudel has a flaky crust and is filled with sweet figs, tart manchego cheese, and smooth ricotta. The plate is garnished with toasted almonds, a small salad of frisée greens, and spiced honey. Each bite contains something sweet, savory, smooth, and crunchy.

The dish I’ve been waiting for is the gulf of Maine seafood and lobster paella, served in a hot skillet filled with saffron rice, peas, chorizo, and a lot of local seafood—mussels, lobster tail, clams, and calamari. The chorizo gives the dish a smoky heat that lingers after every bite. It’s a dish from Kaldrovich’s past recreated with local ingredients, and it’s absolutely delicious.

Although I’ve had a lot to eat, the food isn’t heavy, so I feel there’s room for dessert. I try the crème brûlée with homemade whipped cream and biscotti—it’s large, creamy, and crunchy on top. The Sea Glass “peanut buster parfait” is served in a small bowl, but is still a decadent delight. With peanut butter and vanilla gelato, brûléed banana slices, crunchy salt roasted peanuts, and hot fudge sauce, it’s a perfect combination of salty-sweet.

Now full, I sit back in the oversized, comfortable chair and reflect on my day. From the refreshing winter beach walk, beautiful ocean views, and thoughtful meal, I’m grateful to live, and eat, in Maine. The menu at the Sea Glass is simple, traditional, and executed perfectly. The food mirrors the setting in perfect harmony—they are both simple, yet elegant. Familiar, yet spectacular.

40 Bowery Beach Road | Cape Elizabeth | 207.799.3134 |

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