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“If you don't expect much for Brunch, you won't be disappointed”

Belfast Breeze Inn & Music by The Bay
Ranked #29 of 64 Restaurants in Belfast
Restaurant details
Reviewed 23 January 2017

Not very traditional (trying to think of something nice to say). Being greeted by a very loud woman (I figured not hired for her personality and then found out she was the proprietor, LOL) trying to wait for the rest of our party to park the car and being basically ordered to "make a hole" I was skeptical. Tiny cocktail tables not appropriate for 2 diners.Tingy salad plates for the shared entree, spotty service and the ONLY thing edible was the swordfish we could pick out of our pasta for 2. Very pricey. We won't return.

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1  Thank LML04981
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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2 - 6 of 14 reviews

Reviewed 15 November 2016

We never forgot our experience at John's restaurant down in Owl's Head a couple of years ago--the dumpy setting, the menu scrawled on a huge brown sheet of paper hung by the door, the raucous and pushy wait staff, the enormous portions served in the Pyrex dishes, the leftovers dumped into zipper-locked plastic bags to go home with you. This has all been toned down and polished at the Belfast Breeze, but the great seafood and enormous portions live on.

John's schedule is posted on the Belfast Breeze website. When you arrive, you will notice the history of John Conte's career and his approach to preparing seafood on a sign outside of the dining room, including vintage pictures of The Fishmonger. The extensive menu of nearly every fish you can imagine hangs by the door, with choices of the various sauces, choice of pasta or rice, and portion size (single or shared). Jane, the owner and hostess, takes down your order on one of those old fashioned forms that creates duplicates on the copies below, one of which goes to the kitchen where John and his assistants are cooking. DON'T CALL THEM CHEFS! “Chefs today are nothing but a bunch of punks!” You get a number flag for your table where you sit and wait for your orders to be delivered.

Jane is very patient in walking you through the choices, explaining which seafood is available that day, and what sauces go best with which fish. John is very picky about the quality of what comes in; he will reject fish that does not look quite right or fresh. The Belfast Breeze, unlike his former restaurant, does have refrigeration units. The fish comes in on Wednesday, so we recommend you dine here on Thursday to get the freshest fish.

You are offered a regular salad or antipasto. The antipasto was nothing to write home about, but given the size of the portions you get here, a salad is not really necessary. My companion and I ordered the shared portion size of a halibut/scallops combo with a marinara/pesto sauce. We made two meals out of it. Next time we will know better and order a single portion, though we were told that since John was alone in the kitchen that night, he probably piled on a lot more seafood on the orders than usual.

Of course, the meal was off the charts spectacular. Garlic, garlic, and more garlic. The halibut and scallops were both juicy and tender. The table was way too small to fit a meal of this size on it. You get a clamshell to take your leftovers home, not a zip bag.

The Belfast Breeze also offers a very good wine and beer selection, unlike John's former establishment where your choices were red wine, white wine, and two beers, one a light variety. Jane's distributor brings in new selections every week, including the Weyerbacher's beers we first encountered at a cafe down the road in Rockland.

Our server told us that John cooks one dish at a time, so they seat people in a certain order and time intervals, so that the Fishmonger does not get overwhelmed. By 7:30 sometimes, he is a bit tired, so get there early. She said that John is no longer interested in running a restaurant, just cooking (he is 72). The combination of Jane and her staff up front and John and his crew out back has worked well.

You also get to settle your bill in a way I have never encountered before. Your server hands you the sheet Jane filled out, with the final price of what you ordered, and you take it to the office to pay.

This is a must stop if you are in the mid-coast area and if you are a fan of Italian seafood. We hope we can make it back before John retires.

This ain't the Spruce Head Pizza!

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2  Thank StarWeez
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 October 2016

I'm so sorry...we have been fans of John Conte for many years and love his cooking, but this is not John Conte quality in any way.

First...accosted at the entrance by a very aggressive woman who schooled us in "Brunch" not being a meal but a time. Therefore explains why no buffet.

Second....I'm not kidding, we were served bread plates for our meals which didn't make transferring salad or pasta or food from shared bowl very easy. Plus they didn't offer any utensils to do it. They must spend a lot of time cleaning under tables. As my leaf lettuce and tomato were rolling away I saw another man just give up all together and eat from the shared salad bowl.

Third.......Our brunch for two (your allowed 2 choices of meat) had 4 shrimp, a small chunk of halibut and maybe a cup of linguini. Over cooked because as we found out later John has no help in the kitchen. No water unless you go get it, no parmesan unless you go ask, no coffee unless you go get it, etc. no problem. For our choice of dessert we had a skinny slice of chocolate torte served on yet another bread plate only plastic this time, set between us, no individual plates. No choices. There goes my tiny forkful of chocolate torte down to meet my tomato as I try to rush the 18 inch distance from mid table to my mouth!

Best for Last......afore mentioned woman came before we even were able to consume our meager torte and laid the bill face up on the table and told us she'd meet us in the office to "settle up". With a 20% tip already added to our bill(no choice again but maybe she realized people would run) it came to $46.00. Sorry...if they had offered us a cocktail I can only imagine what it would have totaled. But we were'nt offered a cocktail and didn't know they had a bar until we saw someone else get one. What a deal. At least the guy on piano was good.

5  Thank cccgregory
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 October 2016

We are Maine Summer residents and had heard about the chef John Conte but had never experienced his dishes. We went with another couple and had a lovely evening. It was a Thursday night so no music but we preferred the quiet. The Hostess/Owner was very helpful in explaining the menu which is on a big board. She was very friendly and checked on us during the meal. Our waitress, Kimberly was friendly and prompt. We got the "shared" meal which was plenty for both of us with some leftovers to go home. We chose the select 2...scallops and swordfish. The meal was delicious.The seafood was very fresh . Our waitress brought us extra sauce even though we didn't request it. (it was appreciated) We enjoyed the warm, crusty loaf of garlic bread. Our friends enjoyed their shared meal of shrimp and scallops. We are looking forward to a return trip. We felt the price (under $40.) was reasonable for the "shared " dish.

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Thank Judy M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 October 2016

John cooks to order week nights, not on Sunday brunch. Large selection of pastas, seafood/meats, and sauces. You mix them any way you want, and John will cook them up. Take his advice on which sauce is best with the pasta and seafood/meat you have selected. Nice, indoor porch dining setting. May be seasonal, so check.

Thank MadBeachTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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