BY THE SEA MAINE STYLE
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Castine maine as seen in American Public House Review
Castine, Maine

Located 15 1/2 miles south of U.S. Highway 1, along the western edge of the Penobscot Peninsula, is the small, nationally registered, college town of Castine, Maine.  As you meander through the elm-lined streets of this pre-colonial town and drive down to Penobscot Bay, you arrive at the docks.  Much to everyone's surprise, moored directly opposite the ubiquitous sailing vessels and small water craft is the enormous ocean-going ship, the U.S.S. State of Maine.  As you cast your eyes across this stunning panorama you notice a light gray wooden building to your left and on the back of this building, nearest to the water, an inviting, bright yellow awning.  Written on the side of the awning is Dennett's Wharf Restaurant. This pub and restaurant has been a Maine vacation destination for our family the past three summers.

Dennetts Wharf profile as seen in American Public House Review
Dennett's Wharf

Until 1960, Dennett's Wharf was as-billed, a wharf, owned and operated by the Dennett brothers.  The wharf was first constructed in the early 1800's as a sail and rigging loft.  Later in the 19th century, with the arrival of steam powered cruise ships, summer tourists from Boston, New York and even Washington came to Castine to visit the striking granite-lined coastline of the Penobscot Bay region.   The Dennett family obliged and capitalized on the influx of summertime visitors by constructing and renting row boats as well as, at this location, building one of the first American "9 pin" bowling lanes.  The "9 pin" bowling lane was rediscovered during renovation by the present owners and is now incorporated into the dazzling wooden bar in the main portion of Dennett's Wharf Restaurant and Oyster Bar.  On display, behind the bar, is the original bowling ball as well a few of the preserved pins.

The money ceiling at Dennett's Wharf as seen in American Public House Review
Things are looking up!

The pub and restaurant has been owned by Gary and Carolyn Brouillard since 1986.  Besides the "9 pin" indoor-bar, very comfortable lounge area, and wooden booths and tables dining area, Dennett's Wharf Restaurant and Oyster Bar features an outside bar, an outdoor canopied deck overlooking the water with tables and even Adirondack chairs, kayak tours and lessons by Castine Kayaks, bike rentals and docking facilities.  After walking the wooden-planked entrance from Sea Street and entering the reception area, one can't help but notice that currency covers the ceiling of the indoor pub and restaurant.  The practice of tacking a dollar bill to the ceiling was started by a customer in 1990.  Since then, owner Gary Brouillard has become quite adept at launching them upward and successfully tacking them to the ceiling.  During each annual summer visit, our two sons have given Mr. Brouillard a couple of procured dollars towards this effort.  You can even write your name or a message on the dollar before their flight.  The method involves a dollar (we supply), a tack and a U.S. quarter, as a weight (Gary supplies).  After the dollar bill lodges in the ceiling, the quarter returns to the floor and is returned to the pocket of its owner.  The dollars do come down from the ceiling for charity.  After September 11, 2001, a total of $12,312 was collected in three hours by the Brouillards and given to a Brooklyn widow whose husband operated an elevator to the Windows On the World restaurant located atop One World Trade Center.  This charitable act was reported in the December 24, 2001 issue of People magazine under the title "Santa Claws." Again, after Hurricane Katrina, the money was collected and donated. When we asked Gary this past summer if he planned on taking down the dollars again, he replied, "I hope I don't ever have to." Amen to that.

Gary, Carolyn Brouillard and their kids hold charitable donations as seen in American Public House Review

The Brouillard family holding
plastic pans full of currency extracted from the ceiling. The money was donated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Dennett's Wharf Restaurant and Oyster Bar offers excellent foods with an obvious, but welcome, bias toward fresh Maine seafood, including appetizers such as Lobster Quesadilla, Maine Shrimp, Steamers and a creamy (New England) clam chowder - just clam chowder to them, New Englanders don't recognize the red kind.  Entrees include Lobster Pie, Grilled Swordfish and Stonington Lobster (fresh from the fishing port located on Deer Isle, off the southern tip of the Pennobscot Peninsula and accessible by car over a huge span bridge).  They also offer Vegetable Strudel, Roasted Half Chicken served with cranberry chutney, Buffalo Wings and even Pad Thai.  They also specialize in steaks such as an eight ounce filet mignon, several styles of twelve ounce sirloin and a house favorite, "Marinated Hanger Steak," served with a Shiitake mushroom demi-glaze.  This past summer the Sugar Cane Skewered Shrimp was delicious followed by desert, including traditional Maine (wild) blueberry pie and New York Style Cheese Cake - it must be because a former New York Yankee player was in the restaurant when we were there the year before.   

Dennett'sWharf indoor bar as seen in American Public House Review
The spirit flows inside . . .

Dennett's Wharf outdoor bar as seen in American Public House Review
 . . . or outside

Kid with blueberry soda as seen in American Public House Review

  a blueberry powered smile

The pub selection includes numerous microbrews on draft, including many Maine favorites such as Geary's London Porter, Pale Ale and Summer Ale, Gritty's Best Brown and Black Fly Stout, Shipyard Ale, Carrabassett Pale Ale, Stone Coast 420 IPA, Castine Lager and Dennett's Own Wharf Rat Ale.  Miller Lite was also on tap.  Plenty of bottled beer is also featured, besides the staples such as Budweiser, Bud Lite, Michelob Lite, Heineken and Corona, were Old Speckled Hen, Newcastle Brown, Boddington's Pub Ale, Magic Hat #9.  Our sons look forward to the bottled sodas like Eli's Root Beer and Blueberry soda, a Maine favorite.  The boys also enjoy making shapes out of the Wiki Stix that are provided to the children by the restaurant before every meal, a unique touch as compared to the more typical crayons and coloring/activity books.  The wine list is quite extensive and includes Washington state, California, Italian, French and Australian wines.

The U.S.S. State of Maine, as well as the tug, Pentagoet, are operated by the Maine Maritime Academy.  The academy was established in 1941 to train merchant seamen, with the first students commencing classes on October 9 of that year.  The school now offers a wide range of curriculum in marine engineering and transportation as well as marine biology and business.  The school ranks near the top in the nation in placement and boasts a nearly one hundred percent career employment record upon graduation.  While visiting this past summer, just before sunset, we all watched the parade of sailor-dressed cadets being commanded by their khaki-clad upper classman, marching by twos onto the U.S.S. State of Maine.  Castine also holds claim to the longest continuously running post office in the United States.  Some notable summer or full-year residents were or are Harriet Beecher Stowe, Robert Lowell, Mary McCarthy and singer-songwriter Don McClean.

Strong! . . .  like a merchant seaman

Castine, Maine abounds with early American military history.
The area played a remarkable role in the struggles which helped to forge our country.
To learn more about the strategies and campaigns,
and to be introduced to the ghost of a drummer boy,
Please CLICK here.

U.S.S. State of Maine as seen in American Public House Review
Merchant Marine cadets board the U.S.S. State of Maine

Dennetts Wharf patio as seen in American Public House Review
Dennetts Wharf harbor as seen in American Public House Review

So if you're ever passing along U.S. Highway 1 to Acadia or on the Penobscot Peninsula, a side trip to historic Castine is well worth the time.  Coming into town on Maine Highway 166, you'll pass Fort George while on Battle Avenue, parts of the Maine Maritime Academy, turning left onto Main Street numerous examples of Georgian and Federalist homes, and near the bottom of the hill, easily walk able shops, finally coming to a plentiful parking area at the town harbor.   Look for the bright yellow awning to your left at 15 Sea Street with the inviting words: Dennett's Wharf Restaurant.  Gary and Carolyn Brouillard are always waiting to greet and welcome new friends and throw a dollar or two to the ceiling.

15 Sea Street
Castine, Maine 04421
(207) 326-9045

Dennett’s Wharf has recently gone through a transfer of ownership. Thankfully, it remains in the very capable hands of the Brouillard family. Gary’s brother Paul has now taken the helm of this Maine seaside institution.



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The Wine Hut as seen in American Public House Review .com

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