Monday, July 5, 2010

Bar Harbor Inn - The Reading Room - A cozy New England village restaurant.

The Reading Room’s name has a distinguished history. In 1874 a social club was organized on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, called the Oasis Club. A few years later it moved into the Mount Desert Reading Room, housed in a new cedar-shingled structured designed by architect William Randolph Emerson. Over the years the center for social activities was visited by the likes of President Taft as well as officers of the U.S. Navy whose ships visited the idyllic shores of Frenchman Bay. But in 1947, after a terrible fire ravaged the island and consumed Bar Harbor’s famous hotels, the area was left without a means to attract visitors. Beginning in 1950, what is now the Bar Harbor Inn began a course of reconstruction. Today the Reading Room Restaurant overlooking one of Maine’s most stunning harbor vistas recreates the cultured elegance of a bygone aristocratic era without being stuffy or formal. On the contrary, the dining room regularly features local pianist John Haskell whose versatile style ranges from big band and show tunes to contemporary pieces that appeal to all ages.

Gazing out of my seaside window, with the evening sky growing ever darker, the dancing harbor lights twinkled and reflected off the glassy dark blue sea below. As gentle waves lapped on the harbor shore, an equally gentle wave of satisfaction gradually crept over me as I rehearsed each of the courses I enjoyed. Yes, this was the perfect end to a great day. I had traipsed through Acadia National Park, viewing breathtaking coastal scenery, enchanted by forests of evergreen and deciduous fall color, and captivated by the romantic carriage roads built for horse-drawn coaches. And now, here, relaxing in the midst of a cozy New England village restaurant, I knew I had just partaken of some of the delights once experienced by members of those famous, aristocratic American dynasties who played and dined here so long ago.

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