It’s hard to imagine a prettier spot on the Seacoast than this postcard-perfect foodie find. Nestled on Harris Island, Dockside Restaurant overlooks a protected harbor and small marina dotted with bobbing sailboats and dinghies, small yachts, and working lobster boats. Look to the east and you’ll see the open ocean, the waves crashing against Boone Island, and a slice of Maine’s rocky, spruce-studded coastline. You could come solely for the setting, but what happens in the kitchen is equally dazzling.
Chef Dennis LaPlante, known for his a la minute style of cooking, brings great care and passion to his craft. “We make nearly everything ourselves, with thought and heart,” he says. And it shows.
Start with a walk around the grounds and then, perhaps, a chilled flute of sparkling wine. The restaurant offers an impressive selection of wines by the glass, as well as handcrafted cocktails, including crisp, cold martinis (the Ruby Red Martini with grapefruit is a top seller) and Dockside’s signature Voodoo Rum Punch.
Start your meal with the Frito Misto appetizer, a trio of lightly dusted fried oysters, artichokes, and zucchini, each delicate, crunchy, and sweet. LaPlante also makes the creamy, fresh House Mozzarella, served with roasted tomatoes and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar. Salads include Red and Golden Beet Salad, with microgreens and a goat cheese crouton. The Seared Tuna comes on a bed of roasted asparagus, drizzled with a tomato vinaigrette.
The go-to entrée is Dockside’s longstanding signature dish, Drunken Lobster Saute, an almost hedonistic blend of poached lobster and pan seared scallops in an Irish whiskey and shallot cream sauce. The visually stunning Pan Seared Diver Scallops are also a main-plate favorite. The dish features absurdly fresh, colossal scallops—sweet-tasting and delicate—set on a crispy-outside, creamy-inside polenta cake, surrounded by a light spinach cream sauce. The Pan Roasted Native Cod, another house favorite, is a simple dish, consisting of a thick herbed cod fillet served alongside a cauliflower hash brown.
When pushed, LaPlante points to the Organic Braised Chicken and “Dumplings” as his favorite. The moist, tender chicken is slow-cooked in a red wine stock and served with gnocchi (the dumplings), prepared in house each day by sous chef Peter Sullivan.
The desserts at Dockside are also prepared in house, including the not-to-be-missed Lemon Olive Oil Cake and a Chocolate Terrine, layers of rich milk and dark chocolate. The legendary Dockside Hickory Stick is an example of simplicity at its finest: Shain’s of Maine vanilla ice cream rolled in homemade chocolate cookie crumbs, accompanied by chocolate ganache and fresh whipped cream.
“The Dockside is perhaps the most beautiful place I’ve had the pleasure of cooking at,” says LaPlante. “But it’s also a place where guests can relax and enjoy a quality, homemade meal, and I can share my passion for honest cooking from the heart.”
22 Harris Island
York Harbor, Maine
Photography by Kindra Clineff