An Outstanding Lunch at Sea Level Oyster Bar

outside restaurant

The other weekend, Nick and I were finally able to experience Salem’s newest and very rave-reviewed restaurant, Sea Level Oyster Bar. I had been seeing so many social media posts from friends and other businesses in the Salem area featuring their amazing drinks and meals from Sea Level, and I could not wait to try it out. It certainly lived up to all the hype!

Customers use this handy paper to order their oysters.

We went on Memorial Day, so it was busy as expected but there was plenty of room because there is an upstairs and a downstairs. We chose to sit downstairs and were led to a table by a window overlooking the beautiful Derby Wharf and the majestic historic ship, The Friendship. Although our area wasn’t directly open to the outdoors, the upstairs of the restaurant and certain areas of the downstairs are, and the whole space was very open and inviting. I wish I’d gotten more interior shots, but I was so focused on the mouthwatering food surrounding me as you will see…

Even on cloudy days, the view is pretty.

The view is pretty even on cloudy days.

Our table was covered by a large white paper cloth, and our waitress wrote her name on it when she introduced herself which I thought was a great idea. Nick started with a bowl of the New England Clam Chowder and he was an instant fan, saying it was some of the best chowder he ever had. When he got up from the table for a minute, he even told me to make sure the last bites left in the bowl weren’t taken away by the waitress!

I started out with a drink recommended to me by Joe Keefe, the General Manager of Sea Level Oyster Bar. The drink is called the Strawberry and Basil Shrub, and it was honestly one of the most unique tasting drinks I have ever had – I loved it! I wasn’t sure how I was going to like the basil aspect, but it really added a refreshing and tastebud-enticing flavor to the cocktail. This drink is definitely a must on a hot summer day while you relax overlooking the great views offered at Sea Level.


Sea Level Oyster Bar offers many more options than seafood for those like me who are allergic to shellfish. For my meal, I ordered the Grilled Cheese, but this was no ordinary Grilled Cheese. This version came with Red Dragon and cheddar cheese, ale mustard, apples, and bacon on grilled Texas toast. The texture of the apples, bacon, and cheese were a wonderful combination. The ale mustard really took the sandwich to another level. I’m not even a mustard gal, but I would like to purchase a bottle of this stuff!

A much more grown-up grilled cheese, with a side of house made chips!

A much more grown-up grilled cheese, with a side of house made chips!

Nick ordered the So Cal Chicken Sandwich, which features grilled chicken, bacon, cheddar, avocado, lettuce, and tomato on grilled Texas toast. He was very satisfied with his choice, and I had a bite as well. You can never go wrong with grilled chicken, avocado and bacon!

Because we wanted the full experience, we decided to take a look at the dessert menu. In an act I’d never seen at a restaurant before, the waitress came over and stamped the dessert menu onto our paper tablecloth. What a unique idea!

We chose the Salted Caramel Cookie Pie with vanilla ice cream on top – so decadent, so delicious. A group at the table near us even ordered the same dessert because they looked over and saw us eating ours in delight. Salty and sweet is one of my favorite flavor combos.

At the end of our meal, our bellies were more than full and our spirits were up. Eating food clearly made with care and detail and having the tastiest of drinks while overlooking the gorgeous views of Salem, Massachusetts is an experience I highly recommend. Sea Level Oyster Bar absolutely deserves all the praise it has been getting since its opening. Here’s to many more successful years of business!

Sea Level Oyster Bar – 94 Wharf Street, Salem, MA, 978.741.0555


A Great Guest Experience at Maine Stay Inn & Cottages

Kennebunkport, Maine in early spring

A view of the water in Kennebunkport, Maine on a cloudy day in early spring

Recently, Nick and I had an experience that I will never forget – our first stay at a bed and breakfast. After this, I truly don’t think I want to stay in a regular hotel ever again! It was that amazing.

For Christmas, Nick had given me a voucher for a weekend-long stay at the Maine Stay Inn & Cottages in Kennebunkport, Maine. We had until the end of April to use it, and although I had wanted to go right away and get the fun started, we decided that early spring would be a better time as a kickoff to the nicer season. Neither of us had ever been to Kennebunkport or stayed at an inn, so this was a first time deal for us both.

When thinking of a gift for me, Nick had decided to go the route of the inn because he knows how much I love history and old homes. It wasn’t always that way. As a child, I grew up in a new home and thought that most old houses looked foreboding, haunted and scary. Once I moved to Salem, MA, one of the most historic places in America, I began to appreciate these vintage homes for their amazing architectural character and back stories. They are all so unique in their own way, nothing like the suburban development style I was used to. Since moving out of my childhood home, I have lived in a large brick building from the 1920s, an old Salem ship captain’s house from 1802, and currently live in a home built in the 1890s with some great angular walls and ceilings.

The majestic Maine Stay Inn

The majestic Maine Stay Inn

Because of this fascination with antique houses, I was extremely excited upon our arrival at Maine Stay Inn as I saw the large, exquisite home, painted white with black shutters and featuring a beautiful wraparound porch and cupola at the top. The home was built in the 1860s by a merchant sea captain named Melville Walker, and he lived there with his family when he wasn’t at sea (read more about the history here). The home changed hands and went through some renovations over the years, including the addition of the surrounding guest cottages, and it is now owned by Judi and Walter Hauer, the very sweet innkeepers.

The inside of the house was even more gorgeous than the outside. As we stepped past the door, the smell of freshly baked cookies and coffee wafted through the air, and we found ourselves in a serene living room style area with light blue walls, a cozy window seat, a painting of a ship above a fireplace and plenty of reading material.


Shortly after entering, we were greeted by Anna, one of the inn staffers. She offered us the cookies and coffee, and introduced us to the home. We received an informational packet about places to go and events to check out that week around Kennebunkport. We were also able to flip through a binder on the main table that held menus for many of the popular restaurants in town. Anna then walked us down a hall, through the coziest little kitchen and to our room. I was instantly in love.


The room had such classic charm with pretty maroon colored paisley wallpaper and a controllable fireplace over which a painting of a Victorian couple hung. The four poster bed ended up being the comfiest we have ever slept on.


The bathroom was clean, bright white and modern, exactly how I like bathrooms to look. I love old as I said, but the bathroom is one area I prefer to look new. Nope, not a fan of clawfoot tubs and creepy sinks with separate hot and cold spouts. Our room even had a private deck attached, as well as a private entrance although we couldn’t use that as it was still blocked by a large build-up of ice from the rough winter New England had been hit with!


On a shelf were wine glasses, a plate of fresh fruit, cheese, crackers and sparkling and regular waters. I had brought a bottle of pre-made sangria, so I poured it into the wine glasses and added the fresh fruit. Nick cracked open a beer, and we cheers’ed to an amazing stay ahead!


We actually ended up spending more time at the inn than out around town. We truly felt at home there. Each morning, guests can enjoy a home-cooked breakfast served by Walter, Judi and staff at either 8:30 or 9:30 a.m. We chose 9:30 each time because we like to get as much sleep as we can. The breakfasts were delicious, and being seated at tables with other guests allowed us to meet some other couples from across the country, which was a wonderfully interesting experience. And those cookies I mentioned? Well, they are a staple of the inn! Each morning, noon and night, they were always at the ready in the living room and I certainly took advantage of that 🙂

I cannot say enough about how awesome it was to be a guest at the Maine Stay Inn & Cottages, and how great Walter and Judi are. Walter would greet us by name each time he saw us, and it was such a simple gesture but one that made us feel happy and cared about – an experience you can’t get at a chain hotel. The surroundings are absolutely perfect if you’re looking for a romantic, relaxing getaway, any time of the year. Nick and I will surely be back for the summer season!


Maine Stay Inn & Cottages – 34 Main Street, PO Box 1800, Kennebunkport, ME, 207.967.2117