Lighting matters. It’s customarily not a initial thing out of people’s mouths when they speak about a grill – that’s food or use – yet people do notice, generally when they confront a low dining room. Often, we can tell when a grill has finished things a bit too low when we mark diners secretly pulling out their dungeon phones to use them as flashlights to review a menu. Musette in Kennebunkport’s Cape Porpoise encampment is not one of those restaurants.
With full-wattage match lights swinging over any table, roof spots and an interior pattern intrigue that favors light timber cladding and white paint, Musette’s dining room is incandescently bright. “It’s like a surgical theater,” one of my cooking guest remarked. “Does anyone demeanour good during night, underneath this most light?” another wondered aloud, adding, “I consider we would have ragged something opposite if we had known.” Perhaps we all should have figured it out earlier, since Musette’s exterior, with a absolute floodlight and three, lighthouse-worthy sconces, can be seen half-a-mile down Route 9 – presumably even from space.
WHERE: 2 Pier Road, Kennebunkport. 204-0707, musettebyjc.com
SERVING: 5:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday
PRICE RANGE: Appetizers $9 to $14, entrees $12 to $26
NOISE LEVEL: A birthday celebration for a librarian
VEGETARIAN: Some dishes
GLUTEN-FREE: Some dishes
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: No
BOTTOM LINE: When long-serving former White Barn Inn executive cook Jonathan Cartwright non-stop Musette for cooking final July, he had his work cut out for him. First, there were a locals whose aged standby, The Wayfarer, was being replaced. Some passive-aggressively still impute to a place by a aged name. Then, there was his possess argent repute for excellent dining. Why, some people asked, wasn’t Cartwright starting a technique-driven, white-tablecloth restaurant? “But we wanted something that wasn’t a White Barn Inn or have that tarnish follow me,” Cartwright said. So, along with business partner and associate bicycling fan Travis McKenzie, he non-stop Musette, an eclectic, tolerably labelled bistro. Significant seasoning problems blotch some of a restaurant’s menu, yet here and there, it’s probable to see Musette’s genuine potential. You’ll find it in dishes like a artfully plated seafood cake, served with cole slaw dressed with homemade mayonnaise. It’s also there in a roasted duck breast – an well-developed provide when it’s cold outside. Perhaps some-more than anywhere else though, it is on a dessert menu where Musette unequivocally shines. If you’re propitious adequate to find it, don’t skip a Bee Sting cake, a confection finished from layers of yeast-leavened sugar cake, melon consume and vanilla fritter cream. Or equally, a cold low chocolate mousse, served with a crunchy, cocoa-nib-stippled chocolate bellow finished by Cartwright’s 11-year-old daughter.
Ratings follow this scale and take into care food, atmosphere, service, value and form of grill (a infrequent bistro will be judged as a infrequent bistro, an costly upscale grill as such):
The Maine Sunday Telegram visits any grill once; if a initial image was unsatisfactory, a reviewer earnings for a second. The reviewer creates any try to sup anonymously and never accepts giveaway food or drink.
Until 2016, a well-illuminated building was informed to locals as a home of The Wayfarer, a renouned internal diner-style restaurant. When former White Barn Inn executive cook Jonathan Cartwright and his business partner Travis McKenzie took over and non-stop Musette in Jul final year, they kept scarcely all about a décor a same, right down to a hulk poster over a wooden lunch opposite stenciled with a former restaurant’s name.
“We didn’t buy a name with a transaction, so we altered it to Musette, to a dismay of many locals. As prolonged as they don’t make their checks out to a Wayfarer, I’m fine,” Cartwright said.
The restaurant’s name does not impute to a small muse, yet instead to a bag of food handed off to cyclists during a race. “They squeeze it as they go, rope it over their shoulder, put a food in their pockets and afterwards get absolved of a cloth bag it came in,” Cartwright told me.
Cycling, it turns out, is how McKenzie and Cartwright met. The dual have also combined a oppulance bicycle tourism association that skeleton vacations opposite a country, including in southern Maine. Musette acts as a home bottom for that sold trip. “We’re perplexing to move a café together with a cycling and cycle debate company. We wish it to be welcoming to sports people,” Cartwright said.
With a front-of-house still run by crazy and colorful Bert Austin, a dear tie in this space for a improved partial of 30 years, they are off to a good start creation a grill hospitable to everyone, regardless of either we know your calipers from your derailleurs.
Strangely though, detached from a restaurant’s name, there unequivocally are no indications, visible or otherwise, that Musette has any couple during all to cycling. The menu positively does not announce itself as partial of a training-friendly regime, with copiousness of robust dishes like a Wayfarer holdover: haddock chowder ($9), prepared with estimable chunks of pan-seared fish and undercooked cubes of potato. The evaporated-milk-based soup is sweeter than many chowders, not to discuss dim yellow and a small tangy, interjection to a white-wine deglaze of a haddock pan.
Indeed, several of Musette’s dishes seem to be dishes some-more geared to chopping firewood and hibernating – plates like proposal yet oversalted braised brief rib ($26), served with hard-seared, apple-and-bacon-glazed base vegetables, crunchy boiled onions and red booze sauce, all over a bed of well-developed churned potatoes.
Or a side of deep-fried crispy broccoli in a sweet-and-spicy salsa ($6) finished from reduced soy salsa and ponzu. It was also distant too salty, as was a cavatelli with sautéed portobello and oyster mushrooms ($18). While a pasta itself was baked al dente, a excessively delicious multiple of melted Fontina, sherry salsa and grated Parmesan finished this image tough to finish.
Another indulgent image is a Classic Burger ($12), a pre-ground, pre-formed beef pitch patty, surfaced with a salt-walloping combo of Tabasco-infused bleu-cheese mayonnaise, bacon, pickles and cheddar cheese. we desired a grilled brioche bun and crisp, feathery French fries (the slightest heavily pickled member on a plate), yet my patty was baked scarcely well-done and crumbled detached as we ate.
Cartwright himself acknowledges that a burger is out-of-step with critical exercise, or during least, not a arrange of image you’d wish to learn in your possess musette. “It’s a ultimate burger after a 100-mile ride. we usually eat one of these if I’ve finished that,” he said. “It would be a small bit of a acquire home for me.”
Personally, I’d rather applaud feats of drastic pedaling with dessert. Very likely, I’d select a cut of Musette’s Bee Sting cake ($10), a riff on a German Bienenstich, finished with layers of melon consume (that a server told us were “really soothing vanilla cake”) and yeasted sugar cake, crème pâtissière, walnuts and a inexhaustible drizzle of honey. Imagine a flavors in an ultra-rich, sticky-sweet baklava, something that, as one of my guest noted, “you have to eat with black coffee,” and you’ve got a idea.
I also competence opt for a low chocolate mousse ($8), served frosty-cold with uninformed raspberries, churned cream and a front of special chocolate bellow prepared by Cartwright’s daughter. “My littlest daughter Yasmeen is 11 and fancies herself a fritter chef,” he said. “It’s something she creates during home. She puts granola left over from a morning use in there along with chopped cranberries, afterwards spreads it and sprinkles cocoa nibs on top.” Dishes like this make it tough to skip dessert during Musette.
I positively wouldn’t, if we were cobbling together my possess ideal Musette meal. One image that would positively make a cut is a roasted free-range duck breast with herbed butter, Brussels sprouts and cinnamon-spiced honeyed potato purée ($23). On a cold evening, we can consider of small some-more gratifying than spearing a square of any of a elements on a tines of my fork, swabbing it by a amber vessel jus and popping it into my mouth.
Another image I’d embody is a panko-breaded seafood cake ($10), a frugal starter that tastes anything but. “It’s indeed finished with a trappings of whatever we have in during that time of a deteriorate and whatever we’re featuring on a menu. Salmon, crab, lobster …” Cartwright said. Plated with a dab of whole-grain mustard remoulade, a scatter of micro-greens and long, swinging patches of coleslaw dressed in housemade mayonnaise, it’s a distinguished dish. Turn it one way, and it’s an appetizer; spin it another, and it resembles a mixed-media collage of a jellyfish, flapping weightlessly with a tide. My list friends and we took turns gnawing Instagram-worthy photos of a image before we tucked in – all of us beholden in that impulse that we did not need a flash.
Andrew Ross has created about food in a United Kingdom and in New York, where he co-founded NYCnosh, a food website. He and his work have been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio and in The New York Times. He is an Internet researcher and aloft preparation consultant. Contact him at: