GEORGETOWN, Maine -- The Robinhood Free Meetinghouse restaurant is not what you would expect of a dining establishment in the woods of Maine, 7 miles from anywhere.
For example, there's the chapel and the pews.
In a former meetinghouse built in 1855 by the Congregationalists and Methodists of Georgetown Island, chef Michael Gagne's restaurant has earned an enthusiastic following since its 1995 opening. The building includes a main floor that has a small, elegant bar and tables for 50 guests. Original details abound, including pine floors, schoolroom blackboards, and, in the second-floor chapel, original pews that look ready for services, except for the fact that they are surrounded by dining tables that line the perimeter. A local artist's batik wall hangings add splashes of color to the otherwise monochromatic scheme.
Gagne's ambitious menu has more than 30 entrees, and if you don't like the one you ordered, he'll send you another and another until you are happy. Most of the professional waitstaff has been with Gagne for years, helped by the fact that he keeps the restaurant open, with limited hours, in the off-season.
Our bread basket accurately prophesied the quality of the food. The Meetinghouse's 72-layer cream cheese biscuits were divine, and apparently many guests buy a frozen dozen to take home.
My husband, Peter, ordered sauteed duck livers in a mushroom and marsala sauce on puff pastry for his appetizer, followed by wiener schnitzel topped with lemon, capers, and anchovies. The veal was tender, expertly browned, and accompanied by crispy German potato pancakes topped with sour cream and lingonberries.
Fortunately, I asked for a half-order of a delicious, intensely-flavored preserved lemon risotto topped with Gulf shrimp as my starter, saving room for my grilled rack of lamb, six perfectly pink chops dressed with mustard bearnaise and served with roasted potatoes and nicely al dente mixed vegetables. We chose our Beaujolais from an extensive wine list.
Dessert was a struggle. Peter had Gagne's signature dish: chocolate obsession, a decadently rich concoction of devil's food cake with ganache between each layer, covered with a dark chocolate sauce and garnished with strawberries and whipped cream. My creme brulee was traditional, and like every dish at the Meetinghouse, just a little too generous. But that's hardly a complaint: All you have to remember is to eat lightly the week before, or at least say a little prayer that your appetite can keep up.
The Robinhood Free Meetinghouse restaurant, 210 Robinhood Road, Georgetown, Maine. 207-371-2188, www.robinhood-meetinghouse.com. Through mid-May, open Thursday through Saturday, 5:30-9 p.m. Entrees are $21-$24.