From the time we stepped onto the Bennie Alice for our boat ride to Cabbage Island until returning to Boothbay Harbor later that evening, everyone associated with Cabbage Island Clambakes was incredibly friendly and attentive. It’s impressive when the service stands out as much as the lobster at a clambake although the lobster was amazing too.
Our evening tour departed from Pier 6 in Boothbay Harbor at 5:00 pm but the line to board was already winding around the corner and deep when we arrived a little before 4:30 pm. No one seemed concerned with the wait, as pockets of people chatting casually with one another. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the beautiful summer night.
By the time we boarded the boat, the top deck was already full so we opted for a window seat below deck. The open window provided a fresh breeze and great views. The boat ride to Cabbage Island took about 20 minutes and after docking we followed the line of guests up the ramp onto the Island. As we reached the top, we were greeted by a beautifully landscaped space with the main building, a large restaurant on our right. There was an inviting warp around porch open to the summer air. We wandered inside to the bar to pick up a few drinks, before continuing further up the path to explore more of the island.
As short distance past the restuarant was a large clearing dotted with picnic tables near the clambake area. In addition to this main picnic space, there were other scattered picnic tables tucked into more private nooks with amazing ocean views. We walked down to the cooking area where the wood burning fires were cooking two large cloth covered piles of lobster and another, separate pile containing the side dishes. The person manning the cooking area, like everyone else, was pleasant and chatty. He explained that one of the reasons they cook the lobsters separate from the sides is because they take a different amount of time to cook.
We explored the grounds a bit more before joining another couple at one of the picnic tables. After sitting down, we discovered that there is wait staff throughout the various eating areas. They wait staff was friendly and quick. Our waiter brought us the first course of fish chowder and replenished our drinks.
A loud horn announced when the lobsters were ready. Picking up the lobsters was self-service, but they have an efficient system. By luck, we had picked the picnic table closest to the cooking area so we were first in line for the lobsters. Maybe it wasn’t luck! The line moves quickly as the staff hands you a serving tray already assembled with twin lobsters, steamers, corn on the cob, baked potato, onion and an egg. Yes, an egg.
I have been to many clambakes but have never had an egg before with mine. We asked our waiter, who has probably answered this question thousands of times but still responded as if it was the first, “Why the egg”? He told us that they use to put eggs on top of the lobsters when they were cooking to time when they were done. When the eggs were cooked, so were the lobsters. A literal egg timer.
The meal was perfect and even though we were full after our twin lobster feast, we did split a piece of the blueberry cake dessert which was also delicious.
After dinner, we took a stroll through the woods to the other end of the island where an osprey was standing guard over her nest. We kept our distance and she kept a close eye on what we were doing until we left and headed back up the path. It was nice to walk for a bit after our amazing meal.
Running the clambakes is a family affair with multiple generations of the Moore family lending a hand including their 97-year-old mother who works in the gift shop. I’m looking forward to making a visit to Cabbage Island Clambakes a summer tradition. It’s a true Maine experience.
|things to know|
|Place||Cabbage Island Clambakes|
|Address||22 Commercial St, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538|
|Website||Cabbage Island Clambakes|