Whitehall Hotel and Pig+Poet 52 High Street, Camden ME (207) 236-3391
Photo: John Michael Flores
Something Old. Something New.
Many people go to the iconic coast of Maine with the goal of burying themselves neck deep in lobster, lobster rolls, and clam chowder. That’s all well and good, but there are other ways to appreciate what the state has to offer, and the newly resurrected Whitehall Hotel and Pig + Poet restaurant in Camden Maine bring contemporary sensibilities to a town steeped in the maritime traditions of yore.
Walking distance from the bustling downtown, the Whitehall Hotel sits on a small lawn, the white clapboard siding and expansive porches/outdoor seating areas inviting travelers in. The large, rambling lobby sets the aesthetic tone; the skeleton of the old inn (the original inn was built in 1901) is filled with an eclectic collection of mid-century and contemporary furniture set against wooden double-hung windows and finely turned balusters. In one area you’ll find a pair of orange Eames rocking chairs, in another a garish red vinyl sofa. Oddly enough, it works. Likewise, rooms are furnished in a fresh contemporary style, with natural finishes and earthy/natural tones dominating the color palate. One must remember that this in an older building though, and accept the narrow halls, smaller rooms, window air conditioners for those hot days, and the occasional claw foot tub. But overall the Whitehall Hotel is a welcome alternative to the more traditional and dare I say stodgy lodging that dominates the coast.
Steps away from the lobby (and what might be the smallest reception desk in the world) is the Pig + Poet* Restaurant. Featuring locally sourced ingredients, the menu is the creation of Chef Talbot, working with local farmers and fishermen to bring wholesome foods to the table. Dishes are simple but not simplistic. After a long day, we had a local craft beer and what might nominally be called a cheeseburger. But this wasn’t a standard cheeseburger, with a combination of Gruyère and cheddar cheeses, local ground beef, remoulade, and an egg, all served with a sesame seed brioche. That’s the way of this menu, something familiar but with an unexpected twist. Decor is “modern rustic,” with precision sliding barn doors, a metal-topped bar, and minimalist wood and metal tables and chairs. Chandeliers made from copper tubing and holding incandescent bulbs with creatively wound filaments add an air of industrial whimsy to the whole affair.
Stay overnight and you can enjoy a small plates breakfast in the dining room while basking in a soft morning light that bounces off the exterior walls of the inn and streams through the expansive windows.
As with much of the Maine coast, everything is shuttered in the winter months, so your next chance to enjoy the Whitehall Hotel and Pig + Poet Restaurant is next spring.