Monday, Aug 29th, 2011
Jack and Ellen Gearren, Irish to the core, left their law enforcement jobs in New Jersey to settle into the one place in the states that reminded them of Ireland.
At the end of Lubec’s Main Street, the Gearren’s opened their inn five years ago, providing nine small rooms with big views of Quoddy Bay.
Downstairs they created an Irish Pub, authentic from the Smithwick and Guiness draft beers to the Shepherd’s Pie.
We enjoyed a memorable dinner that will surely be repeated when we are next in Lubec.
As a kid I boarded the ferry for the short ride to Campobello Island right across the street from Cohill’s, and was looking forward to that view from our dinner table.
But the fog that evening was so thick we couldn’t see across the street. It didn’t matter. My eyes were focused on the meal in front of me. That view was really wonderful.
The pub’s menu changes often and is written on slate on the wall.
A self-taught chef and vegetarian, Ellen whips up a lot of meat and potatoes Irish-style meals. I love Shepherd’s Pie and can honestly tell you that Ellen’s is the best I’ve ever eaten.
It was delivered in a bowl, the pie surrounded by a very tasty gravy, and our server, Tyra, asked if I’d like a spoon to eat it with. Of course!
It contained peas and carrots and was filled with beef, although Ellen also makes it Irish style with lamb. The potato was lusciously creamy, the pie packed with meat, and did I tell you how delicious the gravy was?
At $8.95, this was a real bargain. Lin couldn’t believe I ate the entire huge portion. Not a problem. Ready for seconds.
While we visited with the Gearren’s friend Ginny Morano, who moved with them from New Jersey and handles their advertising and publicity, I consumed a Sheepscot Valley Scottish Ale ($2.50 for a glass, $5 for a pint), delighted that one of my favorite Maine brewers, from Whitefield, is represented here.
Later, Ginny convinced me to try an authentic Irish brew, Smithwick’s Irish Ale, and she didn’t steer me wrong on that. We were served a basket of peanuts with our drinks.
While we visited with Ginny, I tried a cup of clam chowder (Ellen may focus on Irish dishes but she also recognizes that traditional Maine food is desired by both tourists and local folk).
The chowder was creamy, included potatoes and was full of clams that were perfectly prepared (too many chowders have rubbery clams).
We were impressed with their level of customer service. Noticing a group of tourists at a nearby table enjoying lobster dinners — not on the evening’s menu — we asked Tyra, (who was exceptionally good-natured as we peppered her with questions throughout the meal) how the group managed to be served lobsters.
She said they had dropped by earlier in the day to make a reservation and said they would like lobster for dinner. Ellen ran out and bought lobsters and prepared lobster dinners for them. How many restaurant chefs would do that?!!
We were too full to eat dessert, but noted that this is the second Lubec restaurant that gets its desserts from ladies in town.
I’ve been peeking in the tall windows of this massive building that sits on the bend at the end of Water Street for many summers now. I could see tables with a great view of the ocean. It looked a little formal, with white tablecloths. Then the inn and restaurant changed hands.
The tablecloths are gone now and Cohill’s is a warm, inviting Irish pub. The large room hosts a sizable bar and 12 four-seat wooden tables. They also have an second-story deck.
The interesting thing about this restaurant is that there isn’t a menu — at least not the traditional paper ones. Each day all the choices go up on a giant blackboard. Lunch and dinner, it’s all up there.
I noticed a few customers wandering up for a closer inspection, and they were having as tough a time as I was trying to decide what to order. Everything sounded great.
The night we were there Hungarian mushroom soup was offered. Not wanting to fill up right off, I requested a cup. It came out steaming hot, with a golden creamy broth holding lots of mushrooms. Very flavorful.
There were a lot of great salads on the menu — many hearty and meant to be an entrée. We didn’t know that and ordered a cranberry, walnut and feta salad ($10) to split. It was stunning to look at and huge. We enjoyed it with our meal and again the next day as a side with our lunch! Salmon salad, steak salad (a very popular item Tyra said), and a Portabella salad ranged from $10-$17.
Entrees included ribeye, grilled salmon, white bean chili and burgers. I tried the lamb burger that was served with feta, greens, cuke slices and tabouli. Very different and very good.
We were told it was as Irish a pub as you’d find in Maine. The owners’ connection of Lubec to Ireland — the weather, water and simple lifestyle, was fascinating. Now whenever I go to Lubec I’m going to think of Ireland. What a nice thought.
We recommend a visit to Ireland. It’s just four hours away.
IF YOU GO . . .
ON THE WEB: http://www.cohillsinn.com
WHERE: 7 Water Street, Lubec.