Last summer, we planned our first big non-Disney family vacation. We mapped out a one week excursion to Maine that involved spending the bulk of our time in Bar Harbor, Maine. My son had just finished his 4th grade year and we wanted to take advantage of the Every Kid in a Park program by heading to Acadia National Park.
It was through a random conversation at the bus stop that I found out my neighbor had done the same trip the previous summer and she had a few great recommendations. But the one that had me scratching my head was her recommendation to eat at Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park.
My confusion came from the fact that very few restaurants actually exist within the boundaries of national parks and even fewer are actually owned and operated by the national park itself. But the Jordan Pond House was actually founded as a restaurant in the early 1870’s. By the mid-20th century, Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. purchased the property and gave it to the National Park Service to ensure its continuation.
Unfortunately the original building was destroyed by fire in 1979 but funds were raised to rebuild the restaurant and there are two reasons every traveler to Acadia National Park should add this location to their list: the views and the popovers.
Jordan Pond House is so popular during the summer season that it’s highly recommended that you make a reservation for your visit. Stop by for lunch (starting at 11am) or dinner (starting at 5pm) or stop by for a formal tea from 3pm to 5pm.
We made a reservation for a late lunch and arrived early as parking is a nightmare at the actual property. In fact, the restaurant itself recommends that you park at the entrance to Acadia and take the shuttle to the restaurant. We happened to be driving around and lucked into a parking space.
Since we were about an hour early, we had plenty of ways to kill time.
Jordan Pond House is named aptly for Jordan Pond, the beautiful serene pond situated in front of the restaurant. There’s a reasonably flat walking trail around the pond which I mistakenly thought we could cover in about an hour. After 30 minutes of walking, we realized we hadn’t even put a dent in the circumference of the pond and turned around to head back for our reservation. We still had time to observe some of the beautiful view and wildlife.
Back on the lawn of the restaurant, we found lots of patrons scaling the gentle hill in front of the pond and quickly figured out why. BLUEBERRIES! Our mid-July arrival ensured that blueberries were just ripening and ready to pick – which we did!
After our blueberry interlude, we checked into the restaurant and waited about 15 minutes before we were seated outside. My climate-controlled loving family wanted to sit inside but having the opportunity to sit on the lawn is something to take advantage of. Although it was a slight bit buggy, the weather was gorgeous and the views couldn’t be beat.
But it was the food that won us over.
I had been warned by my neighbor that a popover would make a sufficient lunch. If only I had known how right she was. I ordered a glass of champagne and dug into the freshly baked popover, adding a touch of butter and jam (blueberry, of course). I wish I could put into words how heavenly this popover was. In town, they sold “popover mix” but I knew I could never recreate the light, hollow, hot, fresh goodness of this popover. And that’s what made it worth the trip.
We did end up eating lunch. We shared an Artisanal Cheese Plate and I followed it up with the Pan Seared Pumpkin Seed Crusted Maine Sea Scallops, both of which were excellent.
But I was honestly most impressed with the special drink my son ordered, Blueberry Lemonade. They brought him the blueberry-lemon mixture and a small pitcher of simple syrup so that he could sweeten the drink to his liking!
And with it being a tea house, I finished the meal with a nice cup of strong black tea. I needed the caffeine after the champagne and sugar! And after our meal, we headed out for more hiking because that’s the true natural stimulant!
If you’re planning a trip to Maine this summer and plan to be near Bar Harbor or Acadia National Park, you’ll want to make your reservations for Jordan Pond House. Your heart may be set on nature but there’s always room for popovers.