John Welch, executive chef of the Wentworth by the Sea resort, says, "Our entire menu is inspired by the ocean that surrounds us." With a sweep of his hand, he adds, "I want people to know that everything they're eating is right out there."
Right out there, footsteps from the deck of Latitudes, is a glimpse of the good life. Streamlined luxury yachts and sailboats fill the Wentworth by the Sea Marina, while pleasure boats cruise Little Harbor, heading for the open ocean.
Welch, who grew up in the Seacoast and returned this spring to work at the resort, offers a taste of the good life too, adding his inventive touch to coastal classics. "I love working with shellfish, especially lobster," says Welch, who was named the 2001 Gold Medal Maine Lobster Chef of the Year. "It's so versatile, hot or cold."
Several dishes showcase Welch's favorite crustacean. The overstuffed Latitudes Lobster Roll features a hint of fresh herbs. The Great Island Lobster Experience, served in a shallow metal pot, features a steamed 1¼ pounder, plus wild mussels, corn on the cob, and potatoes.
Other seafood standouts include a refreshing Tomato and Crab Gazpacho, complemented with a cumin sour cream. The heartier Pan Roasted Mussels are spiked with chorizo sausage, accompanied by a roasted tomato broth and grilled garlic toast. For a nice alfresco lunch, try the Little Harbor Fish Taco. Summer shines in the Native Salmon and Heirloom Tomato Salad, with a yellow tomato coulis. A popular dish is the Rustic Stew of Coastal Shellfish in a spicy broth, with haddock as well as lobster, shrimp, mussels, and calamari.
Landlubbers will find plenty to savor too, including the Gorgonzola Steak Salad, with grilled sirloin, crispy onions, olives, roasted tomatoes and mushrooms, and French green beans. Simplicity rules in dishes like Pan-Seared Free Range Chicken, scented with thyme and served with buttermilk potatoes and rosted vegetables, or the Latitudes Steak Frites, rubbed with garlic and served with truffled french fries.
End the meal with sweets like the Blueberry Butter Tart and the Warm Chocolate Cake, a rich, silky slice of heaven on earth. The popular Trio of Crème Brulée comes in a sectioned dish with Tahitian Vanilla Bean, Coffee, Cabin Fever (a maple whiskey).
Latitudes takes its cocktails seriously too, offering a menu of handcrafted, hand-shaken specialty drinks made with fresh juices and fruits and herbs from its own kitchen garden. Try the Little Harbor Rum Punch with a mix of fruit rums, plus lime, pineapple, and orange juices, or the Country Thyme Lemonade, with a blend of lemon vodka and lemon rum, mint, thyme, agave-sweetened lemonade, and blueberries—summer in a glass.
While the restaurant is decidedly upscale and contemporary, it's not yacht-club stuffy or pretentious. "We don't want to be over the top," assures Welch. "Latitudes is a casual, waterfront bistro, and we want the food to match that relaxed style."
So, put on your topsiders, bring your appetite, and your camera, and sit back and enjoy a taste of the good life.
Photography by Kindra Clineff