Long Wait at Long Grain but So Worth It

Last day of our trip to Maine and I had saved the best for last. Sunny, breezy summer Tuesday afternoon in Camden, Maine when I decided to call Long Grain to make reservations for 5. I had been waiting weeks to try this place after hearing about it from fellow bloggers and reading about it on NY Times. I almost hesitated though, do I really need reservations for a week night in this quiet little town? Turns outYES, yes I did. Fasting as we were, we had hoped for a time slot between 7:45pm-8:15pm, which would put us in the perfect time to break fast. Much to my dismay, they could only offer us a 6:30pm (definitely a no go) or a 8:45pm (the restaurant closes at 9pm). With no option left (and the fear of not getting to eat here – you don’t understand, I HAD to eat here before I left; it was the highlight on my itinerary), I OK-ed the 8:45pm. Figured we could snack on some dessert from a nearby bakery prior to dinner.

Glad we looked up the location before hand, because the GPS kept putting me past it and the lack of sign (I don’t understand the reason behind this) did not help. So when we had to show up for our reservations, we were very timely. 

Long Grain, situated between Zoots Cafe and Rite Aid
Long Grain, situated between Zoots Cafe and Rite Aid

After having to wait another 15+ minutes past our reservation time due to a couple of older ladies who were dilly dallying (even after having paid) on the table that would be ours, we were finally seated; it was past 9pm. MAKE RESERVATIONS NO MATTER WHAT.

Let’s talk FOOD!

It took us almost no time with the menu as we had already decided what we wanted to order. It should be noted that the menu at Long Grain is not typical Thai restaurant menu. It’s one page, limited and different (see bottom of post for link to menu):

Pad Thai with Tofu
Pad Thai with Tofu

Absolutely delicious. I love Pad Thai but often can’t stand the too “fishy” smell at certain places. This was so fresh and the smell of fish was no where near. Must order!

Spicy Stir-Fry with Thai Basils, Organic Greens, Mushroom (Pad Kee Mao) with Tofu
Spicy Stir-Fry with Thai Basils, Organic Greens, Mushroom (Pad Kee Mao) with Tofu

This is made from their house made noodles and though a bit dryer than the Pad Thai, this was really good. Kale is a surprisingly delicious choice with the mushrooms and in our case, tofu. Would order again. 

Chiengmai Curry Noodles with Chicken (Kao Soi)
Chiengmai Curry Noodles with Chicken (Kao Soi)

This is a popular dish at Long Grain and I thought I would absolutely love it, and I would have if it was just a little bit spicier. I felt it was a little bland in the flavor side for me (you can’t tell from the way it looks, of course). I loved the way the noodles tasted in the soup. I’d order it again, but would ask for it to be made spicier. 

Main Crab Fried Rice with Fried Egg
Main Crab Fried Rice with Fried Egg

Good as far as fried rice goes, and because it came with a hot sauce type side, I liked it. Eating it by itself, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. I would forgo this one on a future order. 

Special that night: Macro Fried Rice
Special that night: Macro Fried Rice

This was a total miss. It smelled too fishy and I basically only had a couple of bites. No go. 

Spicy Basil Fried Rice with Chicken
Spicy Basil Fried Rice with Chicken

This fried rice was super yummy. The flavor (and smell) from the basil makes the big difference. It was so good, I could’ve eaten the whole serving myself. Definitely ordering again. 

And the BEST dish of the night was the Beef Penang Curry with Roasted Red Peppers, Bamboo, Coconut Cream and unfortunately, since it came out last and by then we had already started devouring the other dishes, I forgot to snap a picture of the most delicious curry I’ve ever had at a Thai restaurant (and I’m not even a beef eater). The beef practically melts in your mouth, the curry is packed with the right amount of spices, it’s intense and spicy; just the way I love my curries! I would also eat this whole dish by myself, twice.

We didn’t have any room for dessert though I did ask about sticky rice and mango (my favorite!) but the waitress explained to me that they had a really difficult time getting ripe mangoes up there, so that was not on the menu. Bummer.

Let’s talk SERVICE.

I had read mixed reviews about the service here and was pleasantly surprised at being greeted so happily even though the restaurant had technically closed. Our waitress was helpful and very friendly. However, I wish they would adopt the concept of writing down orders because this whole “I’ll remember it in my head” doesn’t work well (anywhere). She mixed up two of our orders but they were very swiftly rectified. Our food also came out super quick; that may have had to do with the kitchen closing shortly but nonetheless, we were grateful. 

Let’s talk AMBIANCE.

The place is tiny, it seats around 25 people and a few at the bar. It’s cute, and by that I mean the dimly lit source of light, the pale orange-ish/pink wall, some utensils as wall decor all attribute to the slightly whimsical, slightly adorable feel. I would best describe it as “girly”. I know – I can’t really explain that one. And honestly, the food is so yummy, who cares about the ambiance. It looks clean and that’s enough for me.  

I wish I could say I’ll go back, but I know that the chances of that happening are even less than slim. I don’t have any intentions to head back to that part of the country so I’ll probably never taste the gastronomical goodness of Long Grain again, but I hope someday I’ll be able to find beef curry that will match the now seriously high standards that have been set.

If you’re going to visit Maine, put Camden on the map for an overnight, just for Thai food. Yummy Eating!

Long Grain | 31 Elm Street, Camden, Maine | 207.236.9001 | Open Tue-Sat, Lunch 11:30-3:00 Dinner 4:30-9:00 | Menu

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