by George and Linda Smith
Posted in the Kennebec Journal, Nov. 2012
Offering beautifully decorated rooms in a historic building, attentive service and a wonderful dining experience, the inn and its No. 10 Water restaurant in Brunswick make a perfect 24-hour getaway — but we liked it so much, we stayed the whole weekend!
The blazing fireplace across the room, the soft voice of Katie Daggett singing our favorite songs, flickering candles, gorgeous artwork, a delicious bottle of wine and tasty food all caused us to linger for more than three hours in No. 10 Water, the inn's very nice tavern and restaurant.
Bangor's Lafayette family assumed management of the Captain Daniel Stone Inn and the restaurant about a year ago, and the intense focus on customer service we've experienced at other Lafayette properties has been applied here.
After checking in we didn't linger long in the room because, after reading many complimentary online reviews, we were anxious to try the restaurant. The inn's General Manager Henry Sirois apparently does it all, because he welcomed us to the restaurant and kept busy throughout the evening helping the servers in a host of tasks, including setting up and clearing tables.
Our server, Amanda, grew up in the neighborhood and has worked here in several capacities in the past, including management. Her experienced advice helped us fashion an outstanding dinner.
Linda generally insists on Chianti, and we were pleased to see one of our favorites -- Chianti Classico from Donna Laura Bramosia in Italy -- on the wine list for the reasonable price of $33. Bottles of wine range from $22 and glasses are available for as little as $6. I was very pleased to see five of my favorite Maine beers on tap.
We shared a Grilled Romaine Heart Salad ($8), a creative preparation of grilled romaine hearts with Caesar dressing, shaved Parmesan and garlic croutons. I could have eaten a bucket of those delicious croutons! Linda must have said five times, "Oh, this is so good!" Agreed.
As usual, Lin ordered the entrée that most appealed to me, so I had to go with something else. No problem though, because Shrimp Scampi ($19) is one of my favorites and Amanda highly recommended it.
Like everything here, the portion was large. They didn't scrimp on the shrimp. The sweet Vidalia onions and cherry tomatoes added nicely to the dish, which I was unable to finish -- mostly because I was determined to try dessert.
Many online reviewers raved about the Lemoncello Cake ($7) with whipped cream and a raspberry champagne sauce, and it did not disappoint. When no one was looking, I licked the plate clean!
Although the tavern section of the restaurant has a different menu than the dining room, all items are available in both rooms, offering an exceptionally wide array of choices including inexpensive burgers and pizzas, and a nice selection of appetizers. I've got to return to try the Shepherd's Pie pizza. Sounded really good. And the Portobello Mushroom and Goat Cheese Burger was calling my name, too.
The open arrangement where the tavern gradually gives way to the restaurant was very appealing, allowing guests to achieve a dining experience that includes both the good music and fun-loving atmosphere of the tavern, and/or a fine and quiet dining experience in the larger dining room.
We opted to sit on the side of the dining room, quite close to the transition area from tavern to restaurant and to the music, which added a lot to our evening. Katie Daggett lives in Farmingdale and is a wonderful entertainer. And we learned that the previous evening, our friend Lee Sykes of Fayette played there. Live music happens on Thursday and Friday nights.
And typical of this small state we live in and love, we discovered Charlie Gordon, a Winthrop High School classmate who I hadn't seen in at least 30 years, amidst a large group in the tavern.
And a table of folks from Hallowell, seated next to us and there to hear Katie sing, recognized "George and Linda" from this column and that opened an interesting conversation about a host of topics, including election results.
Gradually, the dinner slid into an evening of great music, good conversation, new and old friends and, finally, the last drop of delicious wine.
This old Federal house has a rich history, starting with a sea captain named Daniel Stone who lived here in the early 1800s. This sprawling building has been beautifully refurbished, earning it a Four Diamond rating from AAA.
Light yellow and cream tones make our large suite seem even larger. The three-room layout includes a comfortable sitting area, bedroom and a bathroom that can be separated into two different spaces. A clawfoot tub and shower are yours for the choosing and are separated from the rest of the bathroom.
All of the amenities are top notch -- including bath products, a Keurig coffeemaker, flat-screened TV and refrigerator. And in the tradition of the fine inns operated by the Lafayettes, when you arrive you'll find a hand-written note from the general manager, and a welcome basket in your room filled with products from Wilbur's of Maine Chocolates and Maine Maple Products.
With reasonable prices starting at $119 a night and a special AAA discount, the Daniel Stone Inn offers comfortable elegance with great service. What a nice addition to the beautiful town of Brunswick. When staying here, be sure to try the No. 10 Water tavern/restaurant downstairs!
The atmosphere will hit you as soon as you enter No. 10 Water. Will you sit in the large, brightly lit, open dining area or the softer lit, brick-floored space extending from the lounge area? Well, I guess that depends on your mood and perhaps who is in your party.
I noticed those seated in the open room were either cozied up to the fireplace or at tables where they could visit while dining with friends. Those of us seated in the bricked area were listening to and enjoying Daggett's beautiful singing.
Wherever you sit, the décor is well chosen with deep, Federal blue walls, nice artwork and candlelight on the rough-hewn wooden tables. No tablecloths here . . . giving the space its relaxed, tavern feel.
But it's the food here, combined with this wonderful atmosphere, that will keep you coming back. We started our meal by splitting a grilled romaine salad. It's presentation was unique -- a whole small romaine, perfectly grilled and topped with a touch of creamy Caesar dressing and croutons. Its smoky flavor made this salad deliciously different. (And it was light enough not to fill me up.)
Both George and I gravitated to the Chicken Sambuca Pasta entrée. I ended up ordering it, and there was a little mumbling going on about how I always order the best dish of the evening. In my defense, I did share, including the leftovers we brought home. The combination of penne, chicken, baby spinach and black olives is great. But the slightly sweet cream sauce, due to the Sambuca, is what makes this dish a standout. It was one of the best chicken and pasta dishes I've ever eaten. Who knew sweet pasta could be so good?
I did have the good sense to stop eating so that I could save room for the Chocolate Molten Cake. Sitting in this nice restaurant, with beautiful songs still being sung by Katie and waiting for the perfect ending to a meal -- well, it doesn't get much better than that.
The combination of gooey chocolate and warm cake served with whipped cream and a drizzle of berry sauce is a winner -- as was our entire experience here.
Visit George's website: www.georgesmithmaine.com for travel tips, book reviews, outdoor news and more.
"Excellent everything - from service and staff to linens and food. We will be back!"
Rob and Brenda Callaghan