While the traveling summer herds keep their attention focused on The Clam Shack, Kennebunkport’s ultra low-tech seafood snacker perched atop the bridge spanning the Mousam River, the best food in the burg is right down the street at Big Fish—your headquarters for Down East summer comfort food.
Owners Sara Slater (that’s her on the deck greeting guests) and Chris Rundlet are a brother-sister team (she runs the front, he runs the kitchen) with deep family roots in the community—they know everyone—and Big Fish is clearly the hottest table in town, with good reason.
Housed in the oldest standing building in K-bunk, Big Fish is decked out in a country chic style that feels right the moment you walk in the door. Downstairs is a small bar, perfect for snacking on oysters and enjoying an icy beer or glass of Viognier. Dine across from the bar, outside on the patio (great people watching!), or upstairs in the raw-beam, vaulted-ceiling dining room twinkling with candles and strings of miniature lights. The effect is simple and summery. And the food is just as strikingly clean and effortless.
Rundlet’s mussels are the best in town, steamed with white wine and garlic, and paired with a small bucket of the best fries in New England, and it’s not even a close margin. Shaved thin, these long rectangles crisp up quickly in the fryer, allowing for a faster cooking time and resulting in a nearly perfect dish. The garlic mayo that accompanies them is sterling, the ideal foil for the seafood and potatoes. Don’t miss the Big Fish chowder or lobster soup, they rank amongst my all time favorites. We like to split an order of ribs as an appetizer as well; Rundlet’s baby backs are smoky and intense, handled perfectly, smoked on premise and glazed with a BBQ sauce mop that should be sold by the gallon.
Entrées keep getting better with every visit, Tempura-style big-eye tuna, seared halibut (seared with cockles and over some polenta in the pic), and lobster dinners all score big in the fresh and well cooked category, and Big Fish grills a mean sirloin for those tired of the shellfish glut that a trip back east usually inspires. Desserts are baked by Sara each day—don’t miss any of her homey fruit cobblers, buckles, and crisps. During the day, Big Fish rolls out Little Fish, a re-fitted hot dog cart that vends lobster lunches to hungry shoppers—it's a nice touch.
Very few restaurants of this size and type in a resort town can pull off great food, with a simple, yet chic, stylized ambiance that is as big a hit with locals as it is with the vacationing summer wander-lusters. Stick Big Fish on your must-go list the next time you head to Maine. Tell Chris and Sara I say hi.
17 Western Avenue