Dine on the Farm

At these eateries, you get pastoral settings and just-picked ingredients

Many restaurants serve farm-to-table fare. But now you can go straight to the source to have your meal, as a growing number of farmers in Maine are starting shops, restaurants, and cafés that serve produce and meats raised in their barns and grown in their fields. 

It’s a win-win for everyone: Diners get not only fine, just-picked meals but also pastoral settings and glorious views; family farms reap financial benefits to help them stay in business. 

“I always knew I wanted to do something at the farm around food,” says Gloria Varney of Nezinscot Farm in Turner, Maine. “Creating the diversity of micro-businesses at Nezinscot Farm is one of the important tools in allowing us to stay in this business. It is key to keeping farms alive in New England.” 

The mostly made-from-scratch fare at Nezinscot and other farm restaurants ranges from home-style cooking and comfort foods to Culinary Institute of America–trained chefs and a two-time James Beard Award winner. Here’s a look at places in Maine serving fresh from the field or garden meals right on the farm. 

The Well, Jordan’s Farm

19 Wells Road, Cape Elizabeth

207-831-9350; thewellatjordansfarm.com

Prices: Entrees, $23-$33; three-course family-style menu for parties of six or more, $75 per person, including tax and gratuity; five-course chef’s tasting menu, $85 per person, including tax and gratuity.

Open: June 3 to October 1

 

Photo by Hilary Nangle

The Well's owner

When Jordan Farm’s fourth generation examined the finances, “the picture wasn’t rosy,” says Penny Jordan, who now runs the farm with her siblings Bill Jordan Jr., Pam Butterfield, and Carol Jordan, aided by the fifth generation. They wanted to grow the farm, but first they had to invest in it. 

The family worked with the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust and Land for Maine’s Future, coming up with a business strategy that “gave us the financial position to take on growth,” Penny Jordan says. Now, the family operates a 46-acre family farm, sited on a 122-acre land preserve with dreamy views over Spurwink River and Marsh.

Diners at The Well enjoy those views while dining al fresco on picnic tables, sheltered in private gazebos, or on a kitchen counter stool watching Chef Jason Williams, a Culinary Institute of America grad, work his magic. “Some people come for the food, others for the atmosphere,” he says.

The Well’s menu, which Williams posts after 3 p.m. daily, depends on the weather that day and the available ingredients. “I play off the weather and the farm. If it’s 40 and rainy in June, I throw soups on and prepare comfort food. If it’s 100 degrees in July, I’ll prepare spicy foods and barbecue.” 

Williams gets first pick on Jordan’s produce and buys other fresh ingredients from local farms and suppliers to prepare scratch-made, seasonal fare. The daily menu may include pan-seared cod with broccoli, roasted superior potatoes, and lemon-brown butter or slow-cooked pork with fresh cranberry beans, and braised lacinato kale in September. In June or July, you might dine on shaved country ham and asparagus or seared cod with smashed red potatoes, English peas and radishes. 

House-made doughnuts, perhaps paired with apples, salted caramel, and whipped cream, are always on the dessert menu. “People would kill me if I took those off,” Williams says.

Primo

2 Main St., Rockland

207-596-0770; primorestaurant.com 

Prices: Entrées, $33-$48; appetizers and pastas, $13-$36; shareable small plates, $5-$20; pizzas, $22. 

Open: May to early January

 

Photo: Chef Melissa Kelly | Hilary Nangle

On 4 sustainably farmed acres outside Primo, pigs, broiler and layer chickens, guinea hens, and ducks roam pasturelands; honeybees buzz around hives; and flowers and produce grow in greenhouses and gardens.

“We invite guests to get a cocktail and stroll the gardens and see the pigs. People are also drawn to the rogue chickens that don’t like to stay in pens,” says Melissa Kelly, who arrived here with one James Beard Best Chef Northeast award under her toque. She earned another for Primo, and those awards now draw travelers from around the globe who come as much for the food as for the experience of dining in a Victorian house on the Owls Head town line. 

“Our mission, our philosophy, is to be as sustainable as we can and leave a small footprint,” Kelly says. Nothing goes to waste. “We recycle hot water for dishes, fertilize garden with compost and fish emulsion, and grow 30 to 60 percent of our own produce,” she says. In peak season, she grows 80 percent of what’s served. What she can’t grow or raise, she purchases from local farmers. 

Charcuterie is prepared in-house, and chicken is processed on-site. “We get every part of the chicken, know exactly what they ate, how they lived. They had no stress from day one to slaughter; they’ve had a peaceful, beautiful life,” Kelly says. 

For a white-tablecloth setting, dine in the Parlor Rooms (with ocean and farm views) or the barnwood-styled Primo Room (reservations highly recommended for both). The Maine-accented Mediterranean menu changes daily, and includes house-made pastas and entrées, such as seared day-boat (diver) scallops, Primo pork chop, or chicken Milanese.

Upstairs, the vibe is casual, with walk-in and reserve seating in the Counter Room, where meats and farmstead cheeses are displayed, or the Bar Room, anchored by a copper-clad bar and open kitchen. The upstairs menu includes cheeses, charcuterie, shareable small plates such as smoked fish dip, cod fritters, and Tuscan ribs, as well as pizzas. Diners also can order from the Parlor Rooms menu. 

Nezinscot Farm

284 Turner Center Road, Turner 

207-225-3231; nezinscotfarm.com 

Prices: Café, $6-$15; farm dinners, $25-$45

Open: Year-round

 

The specialty food shop | Photo by Hilary Nangle

Nezinscot Farm

No matter what you’re craving, there’s a good chance you’ll find it at Nezinscot Farm, Maine’s first certified organic dairy. Third-generation farmers Gregg and Gloria Varney expanded this 500-acre farm to include a specialty food shop; a café serving breakfast and lunch; a boulangerie with traditional and European-style breads and baked goods; a fromagerie, source of more than 20 certified-organic cheeses; a charcuterie with prepared meats such as bacon, sausage, and pepperoni; and a yarn and fiber studio. 

As with the other farmers, sustainability is Gloria’s passion. “I like telling people that Nezinscot Farm is an interactive classroom, where people can not only learn more about where their food comes from, but more importantly, the benefits to one’s health in supporting a local food system by eating locally grown [food],” she says. “All the meats, cheeses, dairy, eggs, and seasonal vegetables served come from our farm. All of the baked items are made in-house and used as part of the menu as well.” 

Guests can visit the “ethically and sustainably reared” goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, alpacas, and cows, as well as enjoy the vegetable gardens and fields rolling down to the farm’s namesake river. 

Ashley Wiencek, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, cooks the savory dishes; Gloria makes breads and baked goods. They collaborate on the menu, which includes French toast, omelets, burgers, crepes, salads, soups, sandwiches, and burgers. Order at the counter, and then find a seat inside the store or outside on the terrace; it’s all quite casual. Nezinscot also offers themed, outdoor farm dinners in July and August.

Stutzman’s Farm Stand and Bakery

891 Doughty Hill Road, Sangerville

207-564-8596; tinyurl.com/lppazdf

Prices: Lunch buffet, $10; brunch buffet, $12; a la carte, $3-$8 

Open: June through December

 

Photo: Making pizza in the brick oven | Hilary Nangle

Third-generation farmers Sid and Rainey Stutzman opened the farm stand’s café in 2013, thanks to a grant from the Maine government’s Farms for the Future program. “We envisioned a natural foods store and a large bakery,” Rainey says. “The first day we opened, the whole place filled up with people who wanted a place to sit down and eat.” 

Stutzman’s buffet lunch includes brick-oven pizzas by the slice, along with soups, salads, and desserts. Daily specials and à la carte choices accommodate all budgets. Thanks to a customer’s suggestion, Stutzman’s began offering a Sunday brunch buffet with live music. Choices may include glazed ham, bacon, sausage, brick-oven pizzas, eggs Florentine, French toast, baked beans, baked oatmeal, buttermilk pancakes, home fries, cinnamon rolls, salads, maple custard, fruit crisp, and pie.

Everything served is scratch-made. “We try to follow the seasons with what we have on hand, starting out with greens from our greenhouse, and we buy from other farmers who might have something we don’t have,” Rainey says. In the spring, fiddleheads might top a pizza, in the fall, perhaps apple and bacon. 

The open kitchen makes it easy to address dietary concerns. The farm makes a gluten-free pizza shell, and offers vegetarian soups and pizzas. “We always give people a choice, and if you give us a call ahead, we usually can accommodate,” she says.

Misty Meadows Organic Farm

1164 Main St./Route 1, Grand Isle

 207-895-8015; mistymeadowsorganicfarm.net

Prices: $7-$17

Open: Mid-April through mid-October

 

Photo: Hilary Nangle

Misty Meadows Farm

James “Chub” and Sharon Dionne purchased Misty Meadows Organic Farm in 1996. Now this St. John Valley potato farm, certified by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, is a two-generation operation, with daughters Hannah and Haley Dionne, along with son Matthew and his wife, Macie, helping to run the growing business. 

Hannah recounts how the café evolved from the farm store. “Chub said ‘Let’s get a coffeemaker and offer coffee and cookies so customers have something to munch on while shopping’.” Next, he wanted a menu. It started with a few burgers and kept growing. 

Now, the country-style combo farm stand/restaurant has seating indoors and outside. Visitors can browse farm-made specialty foods and Maine-made craftwork or visit with Princess the pig or Chico the goat. 

Misty Meadows serves hearty, all-natural or organic comfort food. With a few exceptions, everything is scratch made. “I grind 50-75 pounds of beef every other day,” Hannah says. “We know where it comes from, how it was raised, and butchered.”

The expansive menu also offers potato dishes, including eight varieties of baked topped with farm-fresh extras, and eight varieties of poutine, the French-Canadian specialty comprising French fries topped with cheese curd and smothered with gravy. All meals come with dessert from Macey’s bakery. Saturdays feature Chub’s barbecue pit.

More Fresh-on-the-Farm Fare in Maine

Riverside Farm Market, 291 Fairfield St., Oakland; 207-465-4439; riversidefarmmarket.com. Prices: Lunch (salads, sandwiches, burgers), $10-$15; dinner (steak, seafood, burgers), $15-$25; brunch, (salads, pancakes, egg dishes, burgers, sandwiches), $10-$15.

Seal Cove Farm, 202 Partridge Cove Road, Lamoine; 207-667-7127; mainegoatcheese.com. Pizzas about $12

Pietree Orchard, 803 Waterford Road., Sweden; 207-647-9419; pietreeorchards.com. Pizzas and baked goods, $1-$7; large pizza, $16.

Apple Acres, 363 Durgintown Road, Hiram; 207-625-4777; appleacresfarm.com. Soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts, about $10.

Top photo: Keith Webber Jr. / Alamy Stock Photo