Home Away From Home: Part 4

We left Kittery and Robert's behind on Friday night and headed to Freeport. We arrived close to 8 and drove through town to see if anything was still open; only LL Bean was. The stores around there tend to close up by 6, sadly. So we went to our bed and breakfast of choice, the Brewster House, checked in and unloaded. Then we hopped back in the car and went to Bean. It's tradition that no matter when we get into town, we always have to go check out Bean. So we strolled around there for a bit, feeling fleeces and flannel sheets, and giggling over tiny ornaments and little cans of Maine blueberries. Then we left and went to bed because the next day was sure to be an exhausting day of shopping.

And it was. We had our breakfast (a lovely egg strudel with sausage and scalloped potatoes) and hit the shops (correction, we hit Starbucks and then the shops). We use this trip for Christmas shopping and a little self-indulgence. Case in point: I knew I was buying myself a new pair of Uggs.

We stopped once for lunch at the Jameson Tavern. We always remember it as being better than it actually is, which entices us to stop in, but then we're usually disappointed with the food. Maybe since I've written about it this year, we'll remember not to go next year.

But in contrast to that, when we finally finished shopping (or the stores closed and prevented us from shopping further), we regrouped, rested up, and ventured out to Conundrum. Conundrum Wine Bistro is one of my all-time favorite restaurants. I only go there one or two times a year, and I wish there wasn't such a long span of time between my visits.

Conundrum sign
Conundrum is dark and cozy inside. This time we were directed to a small table in the back corner. It's right next to the oversized leather couch and coffee table, where some people choose to dine. It was our waitress' third day on the job, but she was spectacular. She brought us our menus and the wine list. I scanned the wine list first, looking for something I might want to try. Somehow the word "monkey" caught my eye. I have a thing for monkeys... so I had to try Barrel Monkeys Shiraz. And with the drinks ordered, it was time to think about food.

We started with a cheese platter, laden with cheddar, grapes, nuts, and crackers. And then we split the BLT salad. I like to try wedge salads wherever I go. Conundrum's is pretty good; my only complaint was with the lettuce. I just wished it had been a bit greener and a little less bitter. (Burton's Grill is in first place for best wedge salad in my book.)

And for dinner, I ordered what I thought was the robust and velvety beef stew I had always enjoyed in years past. When the stew arrived, I took one bite and knew instantly that something was off. This wasn't my stew. When the waitress came back over, I mentioned to her that the stew didn't taste the way it normally did and asked if the chef had changed his recipe. She went to the kitchen to check and reported back that this was a Guinness beef stew I was eating and that it replaced the bourbon-marinated beef stew I had always enjoyed. I was bit letdown and asked her to suggest that the chefs go back to the old recipe as it was much, much better. Just think about it: Doesn't bourbon-marinated just sound so much more inviting than Guinness? (Even though I do love my Guinness.) Also gone from the menu was the famous shepherd's pie I mentioned in a previous post.

My mom had tossed around a few options and finally went with the roasted chicken with creamy mashed potatoes. The chicken was cooked really well and tasted great, but we both agreed the potatoes could not be described as creamy. We think they were just potatoes, with no additions like butter, cheese, milk, or cream. But overall it was a good dish.

I don't know how, but somehow we managed to have room for dessert. My mother ordered the apple crumble.

And I got the molten chocolate cake, which had a different name that escapes me at the moment. Both of our desserts were amazing. I find that sometimes restaurants focus so much on the food that desserts are a letdown; not so here. The middle of my cake oozed out of its baked shell. It tasted just like underbaked cake batter and had a texture like that of underbaked brownies, maybe a little thinner. I wish I could get my molten cake to come out like this one.

Conundrum is definitely a restaurant worth checking out if you're ever in the Freeport area. I recommend it over any of the restaurants in town, and I've been going to Freeport long enough to have tried most of them. No one is pretentious or snobby -- which you might encounter at the Muddy Rudder. And the food is of a higher quality than what you'd find at Jameson Tavern or Gritty's. Although both are great if you just want a beer and some pub food.