If you've spent any time at all reading this blog over the years, you know one of my favorite summertime activities in Maine is to visit Crown Jewel on Portland's Great Diamond Island. I first visited in 2018 when Chef Rocky was at the helm and then featured it the following year for Down East magazine.
In 2020, we enjoyed some takeout and cocktails from then-chef Sara's menu on our friend's boat, as it was mostly serving to-go during the pandemic. Then in 2021, we tried it both as a pop-up at Little Giant and in July for our friend's 50th birthday.
2022 brings a new chef, Chef Jef, formerly of Sur Lie, so of course I booked a reservation for my family's visit last week. We ended up going for brunch, which due to the available reservations, happened to be on a rainy Sunday, so it was a pretty chill afternoon in the restaurant.
I started with one of their fantastic cocktails, but virgin because #aging. The Run the Jewel is typically gin, rhubarb shrub, Campari, and yuzu, but with some magic they made it into a fantastic brunch mocktail.
There's always been great deviled eggs ($8 for 3) on the menu and this iteration is no exception—with bacon jam holding a fingerling potato chip on top.
I really struggled not to order so many things but kept it restrained with the oysters Rockefeller, crunchy and herby with butter, green Chartreuse, and breadcrumbs ($24 for 4).
I must insist you try the snap pea salad ($9) which I mostly ordered like "fine, a vegetable" but it was perhaps my favorite dish of the visit. It was just crispy snap peas tossed with miso and sesame and then showered with ricotta salata. So fresh, salty, and savory.
The whitefish over corn and tomatoes with chimichurri ($24) was delicious, summery, but still great for the dreary day we had. There were so many other tempting options, from the seared scallops to the eggs and crab on the brunch menu.
My mom and sister both had the Spanish French toast, making an excellent substitution for the Dutch baby that everyone was looking forward to. It's soaked through with a creamy custard, and then caramelized on the outside and piled high with Maine blueberries.
We never pass up pudding for dessert, this one topped with a marshmallow fluff and some graham cracker crumbs, giving it a S'mores vibe.
And that was another great meal at Crown Jewel! I love that owner Alex Wight mixes it up every few years. While the incredible experience that is boating to an island for a meal alone would be enough to make the trip every summer, I also love to see how Alex and the new chef work together to create the perfect island escape—even on a glum June day.
Crown Jewel | 255 Diamond Ave, Great Diamond Island, ME | 207.464.2829