By Land or By Sea

When it was time for a new take-out restaurant on the town dock in Castine, the town lucked out.

“We wanted fresh food, fresh ideas, and fun,” said Town Manager Jimmy Goodson.

And that’s exactly what the town got in Dudley’s Refresher, opened by Michael Rossney and Michelle Levesque, the couple behind the award-winning El El Frijoles on Route 15 in Sargentville.

“Before we knew it,” says Rossney. “Dudley’s was open to rave reviews and we were just trying to keep up. Sometimes you just have to follow the path that unfolds in front of you!”

Now in its third season, Dudley’s Refresher is thriving.

“A lot of places just serve a scoop of coleslaw from a bucket of prepared salad and call it good,” says Rossney. “We spend a lot of time making real iced tea and limeade, scratch-making our chickpea vegan burger; we do quite a bit of baking.”

This is a food pro who insists on tortillas shipped from Pachenga in Portland, oysters from the Bagaduce River, Pineland Farms beef, and 30 Acre Farm’s sauerkraut. The ice cream comes from Morton’s Moo in Ellsworth. Fruits, vegetables, and garnishes come from Horsepower Farm in Penobscot and various farmers’ markets.

It might be the only seafood take-out shack in Maine serving a gourmet fiddlehead burger, dreamed up by the new chef de cuisine, Brad Buck.

“Early this spring, I picked fiddleheads up on the Canadian border,” said Buck. “I like to take old school favorites and combine them with new flavors. They were amazing.”

To move away from the earthiness of the fiddleheads, he added fig, lemon balsamic, sage and classic butter. This is not your average dockside take-out burger.

The fish tacos have been legendary since opening day. The location and diminutive building may suggest burgers and fries, but just wait until you pick up your order and see the size of the individually assembled, fresh lobster roll. The haddock sandwich, with a sriracha rub tucked under the traditional crunchy beer batter coating, could feed a family. And how about some poutine?

It’s all about local, fresh, and innovative.

This summer look for house-made shortcakes with blueberries and strawberries, a nod to Buck’s interest in baking. Also, there’s Michelle Levesque’s famous gluten free macaroons dipped in chocolate.

In year three, Dudley’s isn’t resting on its laurels. Their classics are still flying out the door. The menu experiments are meeting approval.

Sure, this restaurant is off the beaten path — something Rossney readily admits — it’s worth the trip.

“A lot of people see a shack on a dock with a burger and a lobster roll on the menu, and (rightly) assume we are going to be a quick, cheap bite,” says Rossney. “Our whole philosophy about food is that it is not cheap, or quick — it should be savored and shared and be the basis of community and family.”

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