Earth at Hidden Pond on Easter
Nestled in a rocky forest of balsam and birch trees, only a few miles from Goose Rocks Beach In Kennebunkport, Hidden Pond feels like a remote, luxury summer camp for adults. In the midst of the tranquil wilderness, you’ll find modern and stylish bungalows, cozy cottages, organic gardens, and Earth, Hidden Pond’s outstanding restaurant.
The concept of Earth is inspired by its natural surroundings, from the outside-in rustic, but luxurious decor to the relationships with the community of farmers and foragers who supply the restaurant with only the freshest local ingredients. Every meal at Earth features fresh produce and flower garnishes picked daily from the on-site organic gardens. In addition, Chef Joe Schafer regularly updates his menu to feature locally sourced specialties like lobster, swordfish, and haddock.
Walking into Earth, it is hard not to feel the connection to the natural environment with the smell of burning wood, flickering candles, and a large tree that is elegantly decorated with small twinkling lights hanging from the ceiling. From inside the restaurant, the large windows allow you to look out over the tree-lined serene pond, burning fire pits and lit torches that blow in the wind.
Behind the large wooden bar stands an impressive, floor-to-ceiling selection of spirits to complement the expansive wine list and craft beer offerings. Earth’s cocktails are made from local ingredients whenever possible including what’s available from the properties gardens. Their list of signature cocktails made from seasonally fresh muddled fruits and herb-infused spirits include creative concoctions named Cabin 75, Farm To Gin, Moon Over Maine, Worth the Wolf, and Hidden Smoke.
To begin today’s meal I started with the Hidden Smoke cocktail, which tastes like Earth and Hidden Pond feel- refined, rustic, earthy, spring-like, refreshing, and smokey. The hand-mixed ingredients in Hidden Smoke are Mezcal, chili-infused Hornitos, Ancho chili, lime, and agave. The drink is served in an aged jar-like glass over ice with a rim that is covered in sweet and savory spices that enhance the flavor of the cocktail.
It is worth coming to Earth just to sample the cocktails and enjoy the natural surroundings around a fire pit, but the restaurant promises an unforgettable dining experience. On this Easter occasion, the restaurant opened a few hours early at 3 pm and was still serving at a limited indoor capacity due to the Covid restrictions. Earth’s menu focuses on “farm to fork” freshness and you can choose from either a Three Course Menu for $65 per person or a Four Course Menu for $80 per person. There was also a special easter menu consisting of more traditional dishes such as split pea soup, lamb, and hot cross buns.
I selected the three-course Menu and paired my Hidden Smoke with a Salmon Sashimi, black garlic miso, soy, and togarashi. The dish was presented elegantly and was almost too beautiful to eat. I could have ordered at least 5 plates of the Salmon, it was so flavorful but quite small as it was served as a First.
Another beautiful dish served as a First was the beet salad, accompanied by arugula, warm goat chase, and sliced pear.
For my second cocktail, I chose the Tequila Pear, which is an El Charro infused with hibiscus, spiced pear, Rum Creole, lime, and hibiscus salt around the rim of a martini glass. The flavor was delicate but complex. Guys, just beware that this is a pinkish drink with flowers floating in it, so if you are not comfortable with these sorts of drinks, you may want to opt for another Hidden Smoke or a glass of wine.
For my next course, I had the house-made Cavatelli with chorizo, piquillo peppers, garlic, and crunchy breadcrumbs. It was the best pasta dish I have had since our last trip to Italy in March of 2020. It was accompanied by freshly made focaccia with olive oil, pepper, mix for dipping. The combination of the pasta and bread was perfect, I just needed a nice wine to accompany it, which Earth has plenty to choose from.
My daughter raved about the Mushroom lasagna, which in addition to the intensely flavorful mushrooms combined chard, celeriac, kabocha squash, and roasted beets.
For dessert, I had the creme brûlée, which was served with dulce de leche, poached pear, and a hazelnut biscotti. The Creme brûlée was outstanding, but with the dolce de leche, reminded me more of a Mexican style flan than a traditional French creme brulee. But the real star of dessert was the homemade, warm donuts served with a small side of ice cream. Seriously the best thing I have ever eaten called a donut.
The rustic, yet elegant ambiance of the restaurant combined with delightful cocktails and inspired, local dishes make Earth a can’t miss coastal Maine experience. The Kennebunk area has many fine restaurant experiences, but Earth has now elevated our expectations and has become a special place that our family hopes to return to each Easter.