The first sign of the positive experience that awaited us was when a tall and handsome man approached me in the parking lot as we walked toward the inn to offer me the shelter of his umbrella. Instead of turning back to the building and away from the drizzling rain, after seeing celebrity guests off, he went out of his way to greet us. Once we were inside the inn, he introduced himself as Bart van der Velden, the property manager, and welcomed us to the restaurant.
Five minutes later, we were comfortably seated in the cozy dining room with wood floors and a red vintage theme browsing menus. From beginning to end, the meal was outstanding, one of the best and most refined we have had in Maine. The pretty presentation of the dishes was a match for the flavor combinations and thoughtful wine pairings. We especially liked the memorable Lobster Tasting Menu. From wine pairing to service to the meal itself the experience was worth every discomfort we suffered making our way there and back. We look forward to sampling more Natalie’s dining the next time we visit the area.
Executive Chefs At the time of our visit, two executives shared the reigns at Natalie’s, Chris Long and Shelby Stevens.
General Manager Bart van der Velden
Since becoming manager of the restaurant in early 2013, van der Velden had overseen the restaurant’s front of house, bar, kitchen and staff. Prior to that, he held management roles at Boston’s Fairmont Battery Wharf Hotel and the Bel Air Hotel in the Netherlands. He was also assistant food and beverage manager at the Golden Tulip in Noordwijk Beach in the Netherlands.
Handicapped Access There was a parking lot that ran level to a dining room entrance.
Location Natalie’s is about 80 miles (130 kilometers) from Portland and about 60 miles (95 km) from Bangor, Maine.
Opened-Renovated The restaurant was established in 2007. At that time, the inn where the restaurant is housed, underwent an extensive $2 million renovation. Natalie’s was styled by European designer Mascha Brunia. Small enhancements were made frequently to the restaurant, according to a spokesperson.
Owned Oscar Verest and Raymond Brunyanszki
Brunyanszki, born and raised in the Netherlands, has worked in the travel, hospitality, entertainment, and marketing industries. In the past, we was a tour leader for Boer en Wendel (TUI) and Unitravel, where he was responsible for unique high end trips throughout the Far East. He served as residence manager for the hotel and beach club at Club Cas Abao in the Dutch Caribbean, as an independent consultant and “mystery guest” for some hotels, and as marketing manager at one of the largest travel companies in the Netherlands. His day to day responsibilities were oversight, management, guest services, staffing, design and direction for the Inn and Natalie’s.
Born in the Netherland Antilles Verest had nearly two decades of business management experience in sales, finance, and management positions in the Netherlands. Prior to his involvement with the Inn, he held management, executive, and ownership positions in the pharmaceutical industry in the Netherlands. He began as a pharmacist, then moved on to partner and owner of Apotheek de Ypelaar in Breda. He was responsible for the direction of Natalie’s.
Size The 2,500 square foot restaurant with a staff compliment of 20 could accommodate 57 guests.
Type Of Restaurant Modern fine dining
Wine Director Micah Wells, a personable and knowledgeable member of the restaurant team, was in the final phase of becoming a Master Sommelier at the time of our visit. Wells had created wine menus at the Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club in Brewster, Massachusetts. Previous experience included the Lure Grill at Winnetu Oceanside Resort, Hotel Manisses/Block Island Resorts and Beaver Creek Mountain Dining at Vail Resorts. Wells was tasked with managing Natalie’s wine list featuring more than 200 specialty wines.
Special Menus There were several fixed price menus on offer including the five course Lobster Tasting Menu for $109. Wine pairings to match it cost an additional $72. Natalie’s also offered a seven course Chef’s Tasting Menu for $97, and an A La Carte style prix fixe three course menu with appetizers, main courses and desserts for $72. In addition, the restaurant offered a Bar Menu.
I sampled the seven course Menu Saisonnier seasonal menu and my dinner companion had the five course Lobster Tasting Menu, the restaurant’s signature tasting menu designed to highlight “the bounty of Maine and the freshness of the season.” Our favorite of the two was the Lobster Tasting Menu. The two memorable courses were the smoked foie gras from the seasonal menu and the grilled lobster claw with miso glaze from the lobster menu.
The Menu Saisonnier courses were: Uni served with white sturgeon caviar, lemon chutney, Camden Harbour Inn Nastrurium (from the Inn’s garden), creme fraiche and pickled Fresno chili, a most pleasing way to eat sea urchin; Maine lobster with cauliflower espuma with caperberries, and arugula pesto; Smoked foie gras with celery root puree and ribbons with radichio, Brussels sprouts and demi, a favorite; Local mushroom cannelloni with shaved beets and grape must; Beef tenderloin with potato gnocchi, turnip puree, coriander jus, radish and baby kale, which stands out in my memory for the tender and flavorful combination of the meat; Fuzzy Udder goat cheese with date puree, fennel seed powder, grapes and rye croutons; and chocolate malt torte with manjari (chocolate) ganache, malt crumble and vanilla malted ice cream. We liked the dessert in general and the ice cream was a favorite.
The Lobster Tasting Menu courses were: Maine Butter Poached Lobster Salad with shaved Carrots, Turnips, Radish, Shiso Puree and Ginger Vinaigrette; Grilled Lobster Claw with a Miso Glaze, Roasted Squash and Pickled Squash Ribbons served with a Sauce of Soy and Egg Yolk (a favorite); Pumpkin Lobster Bisque with Butternut Squash, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Ras-el-Hanout Crème Fraiche and Lobster Knuckles; Thyme Butter Poached Lobster on Parsnip Puree with Parsnip Ragout; and a peach, pine nut and Chantilly cream pre dessert (not a favorite) followed by Apple Tarte Tatin. On departure they gifted each of us a delicious lollipop.
We had Acqua Panna still water from Italy with the meal. The accompanying wines were 2012 L’Ecole #41 Semillon, Columbia Valley, Washington, which had a light mineral flavor; 2011 Terre Rouge Enigma, Sierra Foothills, California; and 2012 Salmon Run Rkatseteli, Finger Lakes, New York; Hippolyte-Reverdy Sancerre Rouge, Loire, France. With dessert we had a lovely sparkling Italian 2012 Soprano Brichetto Do Acqui from the Veneto region with the chocolate dessert, and non vintage Neige Apple Ice Wine from Canada, which was like apple in a glass, with the apple tart.
Number Of Visits One
Reviewers Article by Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox
Service Staff members (with the exception of a woman with an indifferent attitude at the hotel reception in the afternoon) were friendly and attentive with an old world sophistication and attention to detail. The kitchen staff coordinated the five course and seven course menus in such a way that neither one of us was ever eating alone. Cristina, our server, and Micah Wells, the restaurant’s enthusiastic wine director, made sure we lacked for nothing during the meal. Thanks to heated plates our food was always hot when we tasted it even after we took time to photograph each dish. When I returned from the restroom my napkin had been folded. Micah kept a an eye on our beverages, ensuring they were in sync with the meal so our wine and our dishes arrived at almost the same times.
Would You Dine Eat There Again-Recommend It? Yes