Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Seasons Are Secret to Chefs' Success at Arrows in Maine, Cuisine Is Created from On-Site Gardens and Inspired by World Travel

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Seasons Are Secret to Chefs' Success at Arrows in Maine, Cuisine Is Created from On-Site Gardens and Inspired by World Travel

Article excerpt

ARROWS isn't exactly the kind of restaurant you just happen upon. To get there, you must drive to the coastal town of Ogunquit, Maine; hang a left at the Key Bank in the center of town, and head toward the woods two miles down Berwick Road. That's when you'll see the unassuming 19th-century farmhouse on your right, fringed by flower gardens.

Here, chef-owners Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier have hit the bulls-eye with their seasonal restaurant (open May through Thanksgiving) specializing in innovative American-country cuisine.

A little more than an hour's drive north of Boston, Arrows is a "destination" restaurant, one in which patrons consider dining out the main event of their evening. While Arrows has all the givens of an excellent restaurant - exciting and reliable food, attentive service, lovely atmosphere, and loyal clientele - its uniqueness lies in the fact that its owners are as self-sufficient as possible.

Within the walls of their antique house-cum-restaurant, Mr. Frasier and Mr. Gaier have embraced the do-it-yourself Yankee ideal. They do much of the maintenance on the farmhouse and grounds themselves. Virtually everything served at the restaurant is local, usually very local. They smoke their own meats, (house-cured prosciutto is a specialty), and breads and pastry are all made in-house.

Then there are the gardens.

From the main dining room, one looks out large windows onto beautiful flower gardens. Further along the property, backdropped by dense woods, more gardens provide large amounts of organically grown produce - herbs, vegetables, and berries. Ten to 15 different kinds of lettuce go from garden plot to dinner plate. Indeed, Arrows's salads always seem to earn raves. "That was the best salad I have ever had," said one enthusiastic gentleman after his dinner that included Arrows signature salad: Butter-Lettuce Salad with Danish Blue-Cheese Vinaigrette and Spicy Glazed Pecans. This makes Arrows the epitome of a country restaurant. Need eggplant? Go out back. Need some tarragon? Back in a minute.

But the seasonal aspect of the restaurant serves more than the cause of fresh food. Frasier and Gaier are able to take advantage of the winter break to travel, research food, and rejuvenate. In fact, they consider it one of the secrets to their success. During an interview in one of Arrows's dining rooms, Frasier explains:

IT'S difficult for restaurateurs - chefs especially - to keep going, and there tends to be a peak in restaurants where they open full of energy and life and great ideas. That happens for a couple of years, and the restaurant gets better and better. But then after five or six years of constant work without any real break - which is very true in restaurants - there is just simple burnout.

"Our big advantage is we go away, we eat, we go to all these different restaurants, we experience all sorts of different cultures, then we come back here. …

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