If you’re looking for a restaurant with history, charm and highly rated food, head to Norway and 76 Pleasant Street.

That’s the location and the name of the restaurant in this small western Maine town that’s gotten a lot of attention the last few years.

Most recently, the restaurant was named to Yankee Magazine’s 2014 “Editor’s Choice” list as the “Best Fine Dining Restaurant” in the Maine lakes and mountains region.

The restaurant is located in the 1896 home of former Judge William Jones, who received the house as a wedding gift from his mother. The current owners, Bret and Amy Baker, moved to the area and renovated the historic structure about five years ago, enhancing the building’s historic and elegant features with the intention of opening a restaurant.

The Bakers came to Maine from Lake Tahoe, Calif., where they worked in the food and beverage business for many years. They met in a high-end Phoenix restaurant in 1989 while both were employed there. Bret said that less than two years later they found themselves raising a family in Lake Tahoe.

“We have worked together on and off for the last 20 years in the industry and have done every job you can imagine, from dishwasher to general manager,” said Bret. “We have opened several restaurants for other people over the course of our careers and gained the necessary experience to have a chance in what can be a challenging profession.”

It was in 2010 when, as Bret described it, “we were a bit burned out and, with the kids out of the house, we decided a change was in order so we began to search for a spot for our place.”

According to Amy, they were on vacation in Vermont when they took a trip up to Maine. She said that trip was what led them to eventually move to their current location in Norway.

“We fell in love with the town, our neighbors and the feel of community that was missing out West,” she said.

The Victorian-style building that houses their restaurant is elegant, with a chandelier and curved stairway in the foyer. Amy greets guests and personally seats them herself. She’s not only the hostess but also their waitress.

There are two dining rooms with four tables and a large fireplace in each room, creating an intimate dining atmosphere.

The meals can be as elegant at the space, with Bret’s experience and imagination often blending simple and fresh raw ingredients into unexpected, delicious pairings.

Menu items have included:

* lump crab cakes with sweet corn relish and lemon basil aioli;

* grilled romaine and asparagus with spring radishes and buttermilk herb dressing;

* pink peppered fillet of beef gastrique, whipped cannelinis and mushrooms;

* scallops with cauliflower puree, salsa verde and marcona almonds;

* shrimp and chicken pad Thai noodles, with vegetables, lemongrass and peanuts;

* crisp skin salmon with a port glaze, caponata and braised white beans;

* panko-crusted pork tenderloin with apricot, mostarda and garlic mashed potato.

The menu changes seasonally and features locally sourced items when available, including Stoneheart Farms lamb as well as herbs and vegetables from beds behind the restaurant.

“We have found that the basics of restaurants are the same no matter what side of the country one is on,” said Bret, adding, “We try to give people a good meal with attentive service in pleasant surroundings. 76 Pleasant Street is the culmination of all our experience and is a true collaboration.”

76 Pleasant Street’s sauteed apple crisp

Topping

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 stick melted unsalted butter

Filling

3 pounds golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch wedges

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup apple cider

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine all the topping ingredients except butter in a bowl, then stir in butter till mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

Toss apples with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Set aside. Bring apple cider to a boil in a large skillet and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup. Pour cider into a small bowl and add lemon juice.

Heat butter in your empty skillet till melted. Add apples to skillet and saute till they start to become soft but are not completely cooked. Remove from heat and stir in cider.

Transfer apples to individual oven-proof ramekins or a 13-by-9-inch pan. Sprinkle oat mixture evenly over apples. Place your ramekins or pan on a baking sheet and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Let rest 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. “We like to top ours with house-made caramel-swirled vanilla ice cream,” says Amy Baker, co-owner of 76 Pleasant Street restaurant.

76 Pleasant Street

76 Pleasant Street, Norway, Maine

207- 744-9040

On the Web at 76pleasantstreet.com

Open year-round; summer hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m.

Reservations suggested.

The complete menu, hours and information are available on the website.


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