Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea
As I sit down with Andrew Chadwick, we realize we are both celebrating anniversaries. Two years ago, I came here to Sea Glass to write my first blog post for Eat Maine. One year ago, he arrived at Inn by the Sea to take the position of executive chef. “It was July 3,” he says, “and I had to be ready to serve a holiday cookout on the lawn the next day.” He jumped right in, serving over 200 people under a blazing sun. “I’m requesting a tent this year,” he says.
Chadwick is no stranger to seaside hospitality. He came to Maine from Cape Cod, where he was born and raised. For years he ran the kitchen at the Chatham Bars Inn, a large, highly regarded resort with six different restaurants. “It wasn’t a hard decision to come here,” he says. He even convinced his sous chef, Greg Hill, to join him as well. With one restaurant at the inn, Chadwick finds the work more manageable, but no less busy. He’s established relationships with local farms, including Maxwell’s Farm and Alewive’s Brook Farm, which provides both produce and lobster. “I’m committed to staying as local as possible,” says Chadwick. There’s an abundant garden on the hotel’s property, as well, growing kale, herbs, tomatoes, and corn, expertly tended to by head gardener Derrick Daly. “The biggest adjustment has been the growing season,” Chadwick says. “It’s much later here than it was on Cape Cod.” That hasn’t stopped the chef from creating a summer menu that’s full of the very best of the season.
“I’m not a one particular influence kind of guy,” Chadwick tells me. “I think more about flavor than a certain type of cuisine.” The menu reflects his thinking, encompassing a broad range of flavors, but always with a New England sensibility. Silky duck liver mousse has a distinctive French accent, but it is garnished with local strawberries, including pickled green berries. There are lobster tacos and two types of tuna with Japanese seasonings and kimchi miso puree. The fish is both raw and cured, creating a prosciutto-like texture. Chadwick has a way with technique, displaying that talent in many dishes. An heirloom tomato salad, gorgeously plated, includes black olive crumble and olive oil powder adding subtle flavors and texture. There are dill “pearls” in chilled golden beet gazpacho, a flavorful and refreshing bowl that Chadwick says is a play on borscht. The chef gives lobster the royal treatment. Butter poaching it leaves the meat tender and sweet, and it’s served atop a thick slice of lobster and scallop mousse sausage, chanterelle mushrooms, and asparagus, punctuated with American caviar. Every bite is an indulgent feast, an extraordinary treat. The menu also offers a Summer Collection dish, a full vegan dinner, thoughtfully composed. “Vegan cooking is new to me,” says Chadwick, “but I’ve done a lot of research, and it’s fun to play around.” Chadwick has a sure hand with the artful plating of every dish. “People eat with their eyes first,” he says. “It has to be appetizing.” I love the look and taste of the stone fruit and prosciutto salad with burrata and pickled fennel, with its soft shades of pink and orange and surprising combination of flavors and textures.
The Sea Glass dining room is filled with Maine art as well, including a striking Eric Hopkins aerial painting hung over a corner banquette, a Laurence Sisson work featuring Boothbay fish houses, and a lobster painting by Maurice Freedman. “It’s a feast for all the senses,” says Rauni Kew, the property’s public relations manager. The art adds a local and stylish accent to the room, but it’s hard to compete with the view from the outdoor deck. An expansive emerald green lawn stretches to Crescent Beach, punctuated by inviting Adirondack chairs. A well-designed garden, bright with blooming color, is planted near the swimming pool, where families are enjoying themselves. As the afternoon starts to wind down, guests and local find their way to the lounge in search of a cold libation. Bartender Shane Conlon mixes us one of the inn’s specialty cocktails, rosé sangria, a blend of Lillet Rose, St-Germain, guava juice, and lychee, topped with a splash of ginger ale. “It’s just made to be enjoyed by the pool,” says Kew. Sea Glass is also a destination for wine lovers, having recently earned a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence recognition. The inn has over 250 labels, overseen by Level 2 sommelier Donald Linscott. Monthly winter wine dinners are popular with local residents. “We’re winning back the locals, seeing a lot of the same faces,” Kew says. “I think this is going to be a great team,” she continues. “Andrew is really happy to be here and put his mark on Sea Glass.”
Sea Glass | Inn by the Sea | 40 Bowery Beach Rd. | Cape Elizabeth | 207.799.3134