Green Smoothies, Great Weather, + Eden Vegetarian Cafe: Bar Harbor, ME
Don’t be confused! Yes, there are TWO vegan restaurants in Maine that both use “Eden” in their names. They are completely unrelated to one another though. So. Just, FYI.
Moving right along.
We slept well Thursday night. Full bellies and great company (shout out to Jeanette & Heidi who let us crash on their couch! Hey ladies!!) meant a sound night’s sleep and ready for a jump on Friday. We couldn’t have asked for better hostesses either! By the time we were up and at ’em (around 7:30-8), Jeanette had prepared a SUPER delicious green smoothie. It’s SO good that I asked her if I could share her recipe with you. Try this little piece of heaven right here:
The Best Green Smoothie I’ve Ever Had
- A handful of kale
- A handful of rainbow chard
- 2 frozen bananers
- A handful goji berries
- A pinch vanilla
- 1/4-1/2 cup frozen mango
FUN FACTS: Jeanette is a yoga instructor in the greater Portland area (primarily at Yogave in Falmouth), and is working on an exciting new project with a friend, to open a local juice bar and cafe. She said, “The goal is to elevate compassion and acceptance, and to cultivate an environment full of awareness and peace.” For more info, check out livityhealthcoaching.com or you can email Jeanette at jeanette[at]livityhealthcoaching[dot]com.
Refreshed and revitalized (thanks Jeanette!) we headed to Little Lad’s Basket Bakery & Cafe for a late breakfast/early lunch before the three hour drive to Bar Harbor. Click here to check out Ethan’s post about Little Lad’s. We had scheduled a Q&A sesh with Lynn, one of the co-owners of Eden Vegetarian Cafe, so there was no time to dilly-dally!
The drive from Portland to Bar Harbor took about three hours. It actually wasn’t all that bad given the beautiful scenery and warm, sunny weather (check out that purdy bridge).
The ONLY stumbling block on this day was when we realized that Google Maps hadn’t been updated in a while. It kept telling us that Eden Vegetarian Cafe was on an entirely different street than where it really was. I called up Lynn and she confirmed that the restaurant had moved a few years prior and she’d been trying to get Google Maps updated for some time. The good news was that it was a short walk from the old location. So, it turned out to be no biggy after all. But, if you want to go check it out, be sure to use a GPS or maybe MapQuest instead of of Google Maps. I suppose a regular ol’ map would do too. :)
PS – Eden Vegetarian Cafe is open May-October, FYI. This is because ALL of their meals are made up of seasonal foods from local farmers! Oh and despite the name, their menu is 100% vegan!
As soon as we arrived we sat down with Lynn to talk about the restaurant, its beginnings, and vegan babies!! (transcript and audio below). Turns out that this Eden is run by a vegan couple too (just like the other Eden)! They’re pretty great so be sure to check out the interview at the end of this post.
We finished the interview a bit before the restaurant opened for dinner so we took a short walk around the main touristy area of Bar Harbor, including a gorgeous stroll along the Shore Path.
We took in this beautiful scenery and headed back to the restaurant for our much anticipated meal. Since our interview with Lynn was outside, in their outdoor seating area, we didn’t have a chance to really look around the restaurant. But before they got busy I snagged a few pics of the place.
Don’t be fooled by this casual, unassuming home-like exterior. Check out the interior pics. We just loved the vibrancy of colors and decor!
Much to our surprise we were delighted to be offered, and indulge in, the chef’s choice tasting menu. This was a first for me – and made me feel fancy. ;)
Even though we didn’t choose our meals we still took a gander at the menu, and ordered a couple of drinks. INTERESTING FACT: All of their cocktails are named after their family dogs who have passed away. All except one (The Caspar) which is named after their newborn son.
I ordered the Luna Cocktail and Ethan had The Caspar. They were crazy delicious. And come on, a vegan White Russian? Hello!!
COURSE 1: I don’t think this really counts as a course but it’s kind of like getting a basket of bread before your appetizer or main meal. But waaaaay better than just a basket of bread! I’m including this because these dehydrated, delectably flavored flat “breadsticks,” accompanied by a perfectly blended hummus-like garlic dip, were magnificent. I could eat JUST these for a meal. Seriously.
COURSE 2: Hello appetizer sampling plate! This beautifully plated dish had a little bit of each appetizer on Eden’s seasonal menu: a delectable and light coleslaw on a bed of greens; Chesapeake-style vegetable cakes which included sweet and sour cabbage, carrot and kohlrabi slaw, with red pepper horseradish rouille; and fried peach oyster mushrooms – cornmeal and sweet pepper-dusted mushrooms, shaved fennel salad, and lemon aioli.
A little bit of everything = heaven on a plate
COURSE 3: At this point I’M already getting full but there’s no stopping us now. The food kept coming and it just kept getting better. Next up we had autumn vegetable stuffed tofu pockets with a light miso dipping sauce, and a pâté-like spread on baguette slices, atop greens, topped with heirloom tomato pieces, and perfectly pickled cabbage slices.
COURSE 4: We couldn’t believe our eyes, or our stomachs, as the food kept arriving. Oh gosh. So, so good. The flavors, the textures… *drools***** oh shoot, sorry.. I just started drifting off into la-la land thinking about all the amazing food we had this evening. Oh Bar Harbor, must you be so far away. .. okay, back to it…
MUST EAT THIS ALERT!! –> Our next course was Eden’s popular local tomato tartlet – consisting of local heirloom tomatoes, with Crossroad Farm’s fresh fava bean and leek custard, in crispy phyllo, with pomegranate molasses. POMEGRANATE MOLASSES!
This dish was exceptional. I’ve never had anything like it before. I’m surely going to dream about this one tonight. I can still taste it. Ahhh yumm.
COURSE 5: Another popular item on Eden’s menu is their bento box. It includes grilled marinated tofu, seasoned Freedom Farm edamame, baby bok choy, sesame seaweed salad, vegetable maki roll, and pickled ginger-citrus ponzu.
You know how some restaurants try to create the one-off sushi rolls or something, and it totally sucks, isn’t tasty, and is more icky than yummy. Well, this isn’t like that at all. It was great. We had some left overs because… well, let’s be real. At this point we could hardly fit anymore food in our bellies but there was still more to come! So we had the rest of it or breakfast the next day and it was still freakin’ delicious. Sushi. good the NEXT day. Really? Yup! It’s a keeper!
The tofu was delish, the edamame perfect, the baby bok choy was phenomenally flavored, the seaweed salad was absolutely wonderful, and the maki rolls were just right.
COURSE 6: One of our last dishes was the soy seitan cutlets – pan-fried house-made soy seitan cutlets, golden tomato chowchow, sauteed rainbow chard, and dijon fresh herb roasted new potatoes. This one deserves two pics. Need I say more?
COURSE 7: The big finale was……… DESSERT, of course! And what better way to end an incredible meal than with an incredible dessert. Enter: a slice of blueberry cheesecake for two, please.
The texture was perfect parts soft and firm, not too watery (like some vegan cheesecakes I’ve tried) and not chunky or gloopy either. You know what I’m talkin’ about. The crust was playfully crumbly and sweet, while the pile of fresh berries and sauce dripping down the sides of this fresh, creamy slice teased us into submission.
Hey! I’m allowed one cheesy description per post okay?! ;)
Despite feeling roly poly at this point, we inhaled this unsuspecting slice o’ pie in seconds. NOM.
I want to give a shout out to our server, Cali!!! Hey Cali!! She was so super nice, checked in on us just the right number of times, went into detail about each dish, and even asked a few questions about our trip. Which kind of made me feel like a celebrity. *giggle* She was great, all around. If you have a chance to sit in her section, do it! You’ll be well taken care of!!
Eden Vegetarian Cafe
321 Main St.
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Okay. Phew! So much food!! :)
This was one of my favorite stops during our weekend in Maine. Between the warm, sunny weather, the surprising friendly tourists, the good company, the awesome food, and incredibly welcoming restaurant owners/servers, we couldn’t have asked for a better experience. We actually wished we could have stayed in Bar Harbor that night, to hang out with new friends and explore the area. Bar Harbor is beautiful!! We now see the value in being mobile this time around… fewer time constraints are a plus, for sure! Which just means we’ll have even more to share with you when it comes time to talk about the overall experience, not just the food.
Anyway… let’s get back to Eden Vegetarian Cafe. Now that you’re full up on food, let’s go to our interview with Lynn – she and her husband run this gorgeous restaurant. Here’s what she had to say about it:
[audio:http://wtfveganfood.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/edenveg.mp3|titles=Interview w/Lynn of Eden Vegetarian Cafe]
Kristin: [ 0:00:00.8] Can you tell me a little background about the restaurant?
Lynn: [ 0:00:01.8] OK. I’m Lynn Rampacek. My husband is Mark Rampacek. We own the restaurant together. We started it in 2003 on West Street.
We ran it there as a vegan restaurant for six years. Then we took a two-year break. Then we bought this building this winter and renovated it to be a restaurant. Now we’re open. Hopefully we’ll be open for a while.
Kristin: [ 0:00:29.0] Yes. What inspired you to start a vegan restaurant?
Lynn: [ 0:00:33.0] Mark is a chef by profession. We met at another restaurant in town. I worked in that restaurant in the kitchen.
I was a vegan. He was an on-and-off vegetarian. We started dating. We decided that we would like to have our own restaurant. That winter we looked for a lease and found one.
Kristin: [ 0:00:59.2] Then you said, “Vegan or no.”
Lynn: [ 0:01:01.4] I wanted vegan. We were a vegetarian restaurant for the first six weeks. I think we worried that it would be too limited in Bar Harbor.
Then PETA dropped of some pamphlets. Mark read one of the pamphlets. It was on the fourth of July. He said, “We’re going vegan.” That was that. We brought our box of cheese up to our old restaurant.
Kristin: [ 0:01:29.6] That’s very cool. So, now he’s vegan as well?
Lynn: [ 0:01:32.2] Yes.
Kristin: [ 0:01:34.3] When did you decide to go vegan? How did that work out for you?
Lynn: [ 0:01:37.3] I was 19. I was listening to NPR. They said something about how rennet was made of cow’s stomach.
I thought about that. I said, “That’s not vegetarian, is it?” I decided to become vegan.
Kristin: [ 0:01:57.7] You were vegan from the start?
Lynn: [ 0:02:00.2] No, I was a vegetarian first. I was about 12 years old. I was at a party. I saw the movie Faces of Death. Have you ever heard of that movie?
Kristin: [ 0:02:08.1] I have not heard of it.
Lynn: [ 0:02:09.4] It was vegan-inspiring. The next day I made myself a ham and cheese sandwich. I looked at it and thought, “No more.”
Kristin: [ 0:02:19.9] Do you live around this area?
Lynn: [ 0:02:22.9] Yes, we both live in Bar Harbor. I came here to go to college. It was as you came into town. It’s called The College of the Atlantic.
I went there. That was back in 1988. Mark’s ex-wife also went there. That’s what brought him up here.
Kristin: [ 0:02:41.3] OK.
Lynn: [ 0:02:42.1] We like the area. It’s seasonal. The season is May through October. Everything closes after that. Our restaurant is only open for six months.
Kristin: [ 0:02:52.9] OK.
Lynn: [ 0:02:55.4] That’s fine because we’re featuring local organic produce. If we’re open in the winter it’s a different focus. There’s also no one here. The locals are too broke to go out to eat in the winter.
Kristin: [ 0:03:18.4] Do you have any questions?
Ethan: [ 0:03:21.8] I have questions about the area. Do you stay up here during the winter time or do you take off for a while?
Lynn: [ 0:03:25.2] No, we stay. Sometimes we’ll go depending on how much money we’ve saved. We’ll go down to St. John or take a road trip to Florida.
Mark mostly works construction in the winter. I work retail jobs. We just had a baby last year.
Kristin: [ 0:03:45.8] Congratulations.
Lynn: [ 0:03:47.9] Thanks. The baby will be a year old in August. His name is Caspar.
Kristin: [ 0:03:53.1] Vegan babies.
Lynn: [ 0:03:54.3] Vegan babies. Everyone says, “Are you going to raise the baby vegan?” I say, “That’s an odd question.” I wonder why someone would ask that.
I guess it’s not that odd. I say, “Yes, I think so.” They say, “Is breast milk vegan?” I say, “If it comes from a human it is.”
Ethan: [ 0:04:16.2] Did you have a good relationship with your doctor during the whole thing? Were they supportive of the vegan lifestyle?
Lynn: [ 0:04:22.0] Yes. They don’t care. They were fine.
Ethan: [ 0:04:22.0] That’s good. That’s not uncommon but it’s not very common, either. I think a lot of people in the medical profession express unwarranted concern.
Lynn: [ 0:04:35.0] This area up here is very crunchy. You don’t run into that. The more south you go, the more often you run into it.
All of our drinks are named after our dogs that have all gone to doggy heaven at this point. There is Cynthia, Luna, Sally and Charlie. They were our dogs. We made “Caspar” up because he’s our baby.
Kristin: [ 0:05:02.5] Yes.
Lynn: [ 0:05:05.1] The other ones are additional. At one point we had a pack of four dogs. It was crazy. There are pictures of them in the restaurant.
Ethan: [ 0:05:15.6] In Portland, there is a place called Little Lad’s Basket. The man Steve who runs it has a wall of little lad’s pals.
It’s all photos of customer’s pets. He has his cat that passed away a couple of years ago up there. It encourages people to bring in photos of their pets.
Lynn: [ 0:05:32.4] People love that.
Ethan: [ 0:05:34.1] It’s interesting that it’s a common theme in vegan restaurants.
Lynn: [ 0:05:37.9] Yes. There used to be a Little Lad’s in Bangor. They closed which is a bummer. That was great, affordable vegan food for all.
Ethan: [ 0:05:47.3] Yes, it was $5 for the buffet. It was well done. There were many different things to choose from.
Lynn: [ 0:05:54.4] Yes. There was comfort food. It’s not gourmet but it’s yummy and made with love.
Ethan: [ 0:06:02.4] If you were to pitch your restaurant and give it a tag line, what would you say? For example, “Eat at Vegetarian Café.”
Lynn: [ 0:06:08.2] Do you mean like a descriptive thing?
Ethan: [ 0:06:09.5] Yes, for example, “Specializing in…”
Lynn: [ 0:06:12.9] We used to have a sign on the restaurant that said, “Bringing the best of Maine’s farms and gardens to you.” We focus on that. Mark is a great chef. He puts his special touch on everything.
Kristin: [ 0:06:28.8] Is there one item on the menu that we should definitely get while we’re here?
Lynn: [ 0:06:34.2] You can do it yourself if you want. We’ll buy your meal tonight.
Kristin: [ 0:06:40.5] Thank you so much.
Lynn: [ 0:06:43.0] I read your website. I thought, “I can’t let this girl do this.”
Kristin: [ 0:06:48.9] Thank you.