The Maine Oyster Trail
by Catherine Schmitt
Earlier this month, I joined my Sea Grant colleagues from around the Northeast on a tour of Matunuck Oyster Farm & Bar in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. I had met the oysterman, Perry Raso, last June, and was excited to see his farm. I was also interested to see whether and how his operation might be different from those I’d seen in Maine.
Matunuck Oyster Farm is tucked in a saltwater lagoon behind the barrier of East Matunuck State Beach and the waves of Block Island Sound. Perry Raso has been growing oysters for nearly twenty years. A relentless educator who likes to share his story, he is also a determined, creative, smart businessman, the kind of enterpreneur who likes to prove naysayers wrong. Pushing boundaries, expanding, diversifying—he never stops and he never rests on his laurels.
Hence the “bar” part of Matunuck Oyster Farm. The wicked popular restaurant (call ahead in summer!) has a three-season deck overlooking the tidal rush of water between Potter and Point Judith ponds. Inside, a wooden bar is burned with a hand-drawn map of the Rhode Island coast and the oyster farms that dot its shores. Run a finger over the groove of possibilities: Watch Hill, Moonstone, Cedar Island, Quonset…
But that’s later, some other time.
Back to the oysters, and that deck. Marine Extension Associate Dana Morse and I got to talking about Maine. Where are Maine’s oyster bars? Where, oh where, can one sit on a deck in the sun, eating oysters, staring out across the water where the oysters were grown?
I am forever pursuing the answer to this question. Here, then, is my latest inventory of salty places to get local Maine oysters. I’m sure I’ve missed some, so let me know about your favorite spot.
Maine Oyster Trail in a larger map.
El Rayo, Portland
Old Port Sea Grille, Portland
Street and Company, Portland
Royal River Grill House, Yarmouth
Schooner Landing, Damariscotta
King Eider’s Pub, Damariscotta
The Pearl, Rockland
Café Miranda, Rockland
Nebo Lodge, North Haven
The Waterfront, Camden
Three Tides, Belfast
Dennett’s Wharf, Castine
Fish House Grill, Bar Harbor
Crocker House, Hancock