Maine has many great things going for it, but among the tops on that list is summertime. They call it ‘Vacationland’ for a reason, after all… Summer in Maine means lots of things: beaches; lobsters; lots of recreation on the mountains, lakes, and rivers; and Sea Dogs baseball, among other things. But here at FTS, one of the things we look forward to doing in summer is getting those steins filled OUTSIDE!
In our FTS Al Fresco series, we’ll take a look, throughout the summer, at some of the best spots to wet your whistle in Maine.
In this series, we’ve brought you two reviews of some of the best outside stein-filling options around. So, what’s the problem, you might ask? We haven’t even left Portland yet! In the spirit of fairness and spreading the wealth all around our fair state, we’re Dirigo-ing on up – quite a ways up, in fact – to the shores of Moosehead Lake. In downtown Greenville, there’s a place that’s as famous for its lakeside deck seating and down-home food and drink as it is for an old tradition that happened…off the dock.
The Black Frog sits right on the southernmost edge of Moosehead Lake, and offers a classic view of Maine’s largest lake. And you can literally get there pretty much any way you please. Of course, you can drive, walk, or bike right up to the street entrance; but get this – you can also boat up to the dock, you can snowmobile in the winter, and you can even fly the ol’ seaplane right into the cove, something that Moosehead is famous for every fall. The view can’t be beat – most of inner Greenville is right on the lake, so you can see where the action is right from your seat. There’s the old steamship named The Katahdin (“The Kate,” as she’s known…), plenty of boat and plane activity on the lake, and then the islands, mountains, and more and more lake, as Moosehead just keeps going, further north and west. It’s a pretty underrated view, so let’s just keep it our secret – OK, FTS Nation?
And in terms of the food, there’s a large range of… Well, everything. Everything from nachos and wings to Fettuccini al Moosehead and even chicken liver rumaki. The food is – frankly – not the selling point at the Frog. It’s the view and deck seating, more than anything. But the ownership has a good time with the menu – there’s even a warning: Don’t Steal This Menu! The crab rangoons sell themselves with this description: Cheaper than driving to Bangor for Chinese food. I guess I’ll concede that. The mozzarella sticks (“Boom Logs”) promise to “work the opposite of prune juice.” Also conceded…? And the names of the Frog’s dishes are half the fun… Mooseballs; The Moose is Loose; Cheesey Weasel; Skunk Breath; and maybe someone had a little too much of the Frog’s beer or wine selection when they named the Chish and Fips.
However, the most famous item on the menu is the aptly named Skinny Dip sandwich. Apt, you ask? How so? Well let me ease your inquisitive mind. Back in the good old days (pre-2011), the owners offered this roast beef au jus delight for FREE to any patron daring enough to take on the lake in his or her birthday suit. And though I can’t say I’ve ever tried it (the sandwich!), the Skinny Dip must be worth it, because over the years, many a Black Frog diner stripped down and took the plunge.
But sometimes things change, and people complain, and fun things go away (Hey! Kind of like Bumstock!) – so, following a small but vocal opposition to the Skinny Dip, the giveaway offer was removed from the menu. But you can still order the classic sammich that caused an uproar in little ol’ Greenville. Just know that if you go streaking into the lake, you’re on your own.
The FTS Al Fresco rundown:
- 17 Pritham Avenue, Greenville, ME
- Open daily at 11:30AM; they close at 8PM, 9PM, or 10PM, depending on the night.
- Yes, they take plastic.
- Parking: on-street parking is doable, but gets crowded in the summer. I advise taking the seaplane in the summer and the snowmobile in the winter.
- Beer and wine to Fill Your Stein.
- Vibe is casual – commence vacation mode!
- The Black Frog’s Social Media: Facebook