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Norumbega Inn, Camden
Additional Photography by Joseph Corrado
Edible experiences abound at this historic castle on the sea
Arriving at a stone castle is difficult to put into words, but I’ll try to walk you through it.
Norumbega Inn’s place along coastal Route 1 in Camden, high above Penobscot Bay, will at first distract you from its finer details, such as the combination of stone, brick, and wood shingles that make up its impeccable architecture and design—materials that no doubt contribute to its standing on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Inn’s deck, built along with the rest by Joseph Stearns (inventor of the duplex telegraph) in 1886, has been thoughtfully designed to blend organically and seamlessly with the exterior. Stately planters flank the large wood entryway, and the leaded glass windows surround the space you’re in.
Take a step further and you’ll begin to notice quarter-sawn oak coffered ceilings, paneled walls, inlaid flooring, hand-carved banisters, curved walls and windows, and stained glass, plus a wood-clad library and the parlor’s large wood-burning fireplace (both perfect refuges for enjoying a good book or glass of wine). Keep exploring and you’ll discover a regulation-size Bocce court, formal round and rustic cedar gazebos, a fire pit, and a unique fireplace “courting corner” just off the foyer.
Many of the Inn’s rooms have their own fireplace and private deck, but while you’re here I may as well treat you to the Penthouse Suite, which has the best view of the Penobscot. In fact, this view could be why Norumbega is considered the “stone castle by the sea.” The Inn was bought by its current owners, Susan Walser and Chef Phillip Crispo, in 2013.
It’s the work of Chef Crispo that you’ll smell as we pass the Inn’s two dining rooms. Breakfast and dinner are available for guests, and dinner is available to the public as well. Crispo focuses on local, fresh, and sustainable ingredients and starts his breakfast guests with an amuse-bouche (a collection of chef’s-choice items) and a basket of savory and sweet pastries and breads, followed by a sweet or savory entrée of the guest’s choice. He also bakes daily plain and lavender shortbread, a nod to his Scottish heritage.
For the taste-testing portion of this tour, you’ll have to rely on your imagination, but I strongly recommend that you verify your instincts with a real visit as soon as your schedule allows. On the menu today:
Coconut-crusted banana fritter with local wildflower honey, Greek yogurt, and a raspberry sauce and grapevine garnish.
Mini breakfast pastries in a basket
Honey buns, cinnamon buns with lemon icing, and bialys with caramelized onions.
Breakfast entrée (savory)
Soft scrambled eggs with smoked Maine salmon over wilted greens topped with potato rösti, crème fraîche, and microgreens with a scattering of lemon caper butter sauce with red pepper and red onion.
Herb-roasted grass-fed lamb chops over bashed potatoes, served with market vegetables and a rich burgundy jus.
Creamy seafood risotto with olive oil, pecorino romano, local seared scallops, salmon, squid, spring vegetables, and shiitake mushrooms.
Dana Moos is the author of The Art of Breakfast: How to Bring B&B Entertaining Home, as well as a former innkeeper and has spent many years dazzling her guests with food and drink.