Camden Harbour Inn: An exquisite lodging and epicurean experience
Perched atop a bluff overlooking the harbor in Camden, Maine, rests an inn of uncompromising quality and service. Obliging guests for well over a century, the Camden Harbour Inn has been rejuvenated since owners, Raymond Brunyanszki and Oscar Verest, took over the place six years ago. Maintaining the historic charm of the structure, Raymond and Oscar infused the inn with influences from their Dutch heritage and extensive travel and hospitality backgrounds. The result is a refined contemporary feel that balances perfectly with the classic architecture of this local landmark.
As soon as you arrive at the Inn, you are greeted by a porter who will assist you with your luggage, while guiding you to the check-in desk. With twenty rooms, and a fine-dining restaurant, Camden Harbour Inn blurs the line between a boutique hotel and a luxurious inn. Guests are made to feel like VIPs from the onset, with staff members eager to assist in making your stay one you will not soon forget.
When you enter the Inn, your attention is drawn to the vibrant colors and warm textures. The focal point of the common area is chic sofas with au courant fireplace. In the opposite direction is the on-site fine dining restaurant, Natalie’s, which is where breakfast is served for guests, as well as dinner for both the public and guests.
Speaking of breakfast, it’s done a bit differently than most inns…more of a restaurant dining experience where you can order just about anything you’d like off the menu. Whether you prefer sweet or savory, or just fresh fruit, pastries and coffee, Natalie’s can accommodate.
The dinner experience at Natalie’s is simply extraordinary. The décor is as bold and refreshing as the gastronomic concoctions that exit chef Jon Gaboric’s kitchen. From the white tablecloths to the contrasting bright red accent and roses that adorn each table, the palate pleasures are as flavorful as they are culinary creations of art.
Like most things at Camden Harbour Inn, dining at Natalie’s is also done a bit differently than many restaurants you’ve experienced. Rather than the typical ordering process, at Natalie’s, they have a prix fixe menu—actually three from which to choose. Each menu can also be ordered with its uniquely selected wine pairing. You can choose from a three-course, seven-course, or all-lobster course meal. It’s truly a culinary adventure. I have had the opportunity to dine at some of the finest restaurants across the country, Natalie’s, is without question one of the most exciting and pleasurable fine-dining experiences of the year for me.
As you go from one course to the next, you’ll be pleasantly surprised as your server presents a decorative hors d’oeuvre, amuse bouche and palate cleanse prior to the main course. For my eating pleasure, I selected and enjoyed the following items:
- Hors d’oeuver: Gruyere cheese beignet with spicy crème fraiche and braised pineapple.
- Amuse Bouche: Cucumber gazpacho with crème and salmon roe.
- Appetizer: Pan seared Maine scallops on sweet potato puree with Osetra caviar, sweet potato chips and yuzu cream.
- Middle Course: Beet tar tar with candy beet puree, sabayon and fennel.
- Entrée: Butter poached lobster with house made artichoke ravioli, seared oyster mushrooms and a ginger foam.
- Dessert: Vanilla parfait topped with braised peaches, goat cheese cream, cinnamon and nutmeg crumble and cherry puree.
Ascending the steep staircase to the second and third floors will gain you access to the accommodations area, where you’ll find five room levels to choose from. From the grand suites to the superior rooms, each is uniquely decorated in rich and bold furnishings. The suites are top-notch through and through, however a few of the other rooms have not quite been 100% renovated. Take my room for example (Deshima), the bathroom is still in the queue for its upgrade. The room is wonderful, but the bathroom is outdated and not at the same quality caliber as the rest of the room…or that of the bathrooms that have been renovated.
Many of the rooms have bay views, which provide quite a sight on those amber lit, sky-filled evenings when the harbor is full of boats. The Inn is just up the hill from the harbor and a very short walk to a plethora of shops, restaurants and activities. The nice thing about the location is that while everything is within a short walk, it’s just far enough away to provide a relatively tranquil setting.
Camden is such a charming and quaint coastal village, where the mountains meet the sea and the stunning harbor provides artists with inspiration for their next masterpiece. If you visit Camden, Maine and are looking for an unparalleled lodging and culinary experience…have a look at the Camden Harbour Inn and Natalie’s restaurant.
If you’ve ever stayed at the Camden Harbour Inn, or dined at Natalie’s, please leave a comment below and share your experience with my readers and me.