I never get tired of returning to TLK. This September it was special. Pat Shanley and Alicia (our Barn manager), now Alicia Shanley, were on their “minimoon” in Maine and they joined me in Freedom, ME at The Lost Kitchen to celebrate. Couldn’t think of a better place to be this beautiful fall evening.
The experience began at 5:45. Like all the diners lucky enough to get a reservation, we went to the package store below the restaurant (which is located inside an old renovated mill) to choose our wines. We then ventured up the path to the entrance to the mill to begin our dining adventure.
I use the term “lucky” diners because that is what they are. The Lost Kitchen has become such a popular dining destination that the only way to get a reservation is to send a 3×5 notecard to them via U.S. mail that must be postmarked during a specific time period (usually the first couple weeks of April). Thousands (over 20,000 last year) of postcards arrive in the tiny post office in Freedom. All they need to have is a name, address and phone number but many of the cards have funny or touching messages…drawings…photographs…paintings. Erin and members of her staff spend several weeks going through all the cards and randomly selecting the “winners” of reservations at The Lost Kitchen (which only seats 40-45 people so the odds are pretty tough!)
She [Erin] looks at the postcards when she arrives to start cooking. “I’m thinking about whose dinner I’m making,” she says. She leaves the postcards out for the staff and says, “All right, here’s who we’re feeding tonight. … We have a sense of who these people are before they even come in the door.” It’s particularly helpful in a restaurant where it’s tough to be a regular. And after the night is over, the card remains as an artifact from the emotional transaction of dinner the night before. – Washington Post
Just before tonight’s dinner menu is served, Erin stands in the middle of the dining room, taps on a wine glass to get our attention and greets the lucky diners. She talks about the food they’re about to eat…where it came from…how she’s preparing it and why. The menu changes every day depending on what fresh ingredients are available that day. And, everyone has the same meal (which consists of many courses).
“It boggles my mind that you all keep showing up,” she says. “Thank you for proving everyone wrong. Thank you for coming to the middle of nowhere.” Her words are heartfelt, and she continues, “I feel safe, I feel loved. Cheers to Freedom…there’s no place I’d rather be.” Cheers to Erin, glasses clink, thus begins a dining experience of a lifetime.
So come along with us and enjoy your virtual TLK experience!
And let’s get started…
here’s the menu
Alicia and Pat and I drank, ate many courses, drank lots of wine (not me, I had to drive the dark road back to Belfast), and had an experience of a lifetime. It came to a close at 9:45pm. Feeling well-fed and well-loved, Pat and Alicia waited for their taxi to pick them and bring them back to Rockland, ME to The Samoset Resort (which they thoroughly enjoyed) and I stayed behind to catch up with my dear friend Erin.
Thank you Erin for another unforgettable dining experience. You are amazing!
And congratulations to Alicia & Patrick!!