With an abundance of restaurants, antique shops, specialty stores, and beaches, it’s no wonder tourists flock to Southern, coastal Maine in the summer. But when the leaves fall, the temperatures drop, and the visitors leave, it feels like a small community again. Located on Route 1 is Bintliff’s Ogunquit Restaurant, a place that exudes charm and hospitality in any season, whether you’re from here or away.
From the outside it’s unassuming, but inside Bintliff’s bursts with character. The space opens up to a large bar that’s packed, even on a Sunday in November. There’s a raised room for people to sit and enjoy a mimosa or coffee while waiting for a table, and a wall with photos of famous actors and celebrities who frequent the restaurant. Down a hallway lined with wines, antiques, bowls of candy, and wine corks, is an open, bright dining room. The space is charming; there’s a brick fireplace, green over-sized booths, and long wooden tables to accommodate large parties.
Norman Hebert is the owner and executive chef, and on this particular Sunday, he’s the bartender too. I know he’s working, but it looks like he’s hosting a party. He’s laughing, talking, pouring drinks, and interacting with everyone. It’s that interactiona personal connectionthat makes this restaurant special. All around me I see customers and staff treat each other like family. They talk about their lives, their work, and their relationships. These friendships are genuine, and I realize it’s not just the food that makes people return.
When I sit down and take a look around the room, I see many people enjoying Bloody Marys and decide that’s a good place to start. I try the BLT bloody made with house-infused bacon vodka and the bloody maria made with tequila and a hot and spicy mix. The BLT cocktail has a wood smoke flavor that makes for very easy sipping. I love a good bloody maria, and this one is spicy, served with olives and a pepperoncini pepper.
The menu is expansive, and since there’s no way to try everything I’d like in one sitting, I order a few side dishesit’s the perfect way to try one piece of french toast, one pancake, or a smaller helping of what turns out to be the most delicious corned beef hash ever made.
This corned beef is cooked to perfectionit’s shredded, tender, and packed with flavor. There’s a bed of crispy shredded potatoes under the meat, and specks of onion throughout the dish. With a simple question, my server Bob changes my corned beef experience completely. “Do you want some mustard?” he asks. And in one bite, I’m hooked. The hint of acid and touch of spice from the brown mustard gives a perfect dish one more layer of flavor. Thank you, Bob.
Brunch just isn’t brunch without eggs, so a benedict is in order. There are champagne benedicts with croissants, vegetable benedicts on portobello mushroom caps, and benedicts with bacon sauces.
I order the smoked salmon benedict and find it’s simple and perfectly executed. The grilled English muffin is substantial enough to hold the flaky smoked salmon without getting soggy, and adds crunch to an otherwise texturally monotone dish. The poached eggs are perfect, soft and slightly runny, and the dill hollandaise sauce is light and tart. I savor every bite, making this treat last as long as possible.
Sandwiches, burgers, and wraps don’t usually make the cut when I go out to brunch, but since the menu is brimming with specialties other than egg dishesspare ribs, a honey BBQ pork sandwich, and a Gorgonzola chicken wrapI opt for something a little different with the grilled duck burger. The duck meat is flavorful, juicy, and the perfect base for melted smoked Gouda cheese. The multigrain focaccia bun is hearty, and soaks in the juices without disintegrating. It’s creative and a welcome addition to the brunch menu.
Finally, and with a little shame, I order a single piece of the crème brulee french toast. I know it’s over the top decadent, but I’ll never make it at home, and every table around me is ordering it, so I go for it.
There’s no way to describe how delicious this dish is and how it makes me feel. I want to laugh at the ridiculousness of the flavor and texture, and cry because I can’t stop eating. The toast is a homemade Tuscan, thick cut and hearty. The custard, smooth, rich, and creamy, is spread on the toast, sprinkled with sugar, and torched to form a crisp, crackling crust. As if that’s not enough, it comes with maple syrup, whipped cream, and is dusted with powdered sugar. If you’re going to do it, just dive right inthere’s no other french toast that will ever compare.
The Bintliff’s Ogunquit brunch experience is a treat. The food is delicious, the service is genuine, and the bloodys are amazing. Whether you live on Route 1 or in another state, the restaurant is open year round, welcoming families and friends to enjoy an incredible dining experience.
335 Main St. | Ogunquit | 207.646.3111 | bintliffsogunquit.com