The Hartstone Inn, a gourmet getaway in coastal Maine

Hidden in the small town of Camden, Maine the Hartstone Inn is perfect for a weekend foodie getaway.Housed in a converted Federal style home built in 1835, Chef Michael Salmon (a former recipient of Caribbean Chef of the Year) and his wife Mary Jo run their inn with a focus on comfortable luxury and gourmet cuisine. Rooms are comfortably appointed with sumptuous linens and french provincial touches while the common spaces retain a Victorian feel with a nod to the building’s historic charms. During my travels through Maine I became increasingly convinced that all Maine residents have a sixth sense when it comes to gardening and the Hartstone was no different. Hydrangeas, with their white fluffy blooms greet me at the entrance while cheerful lilies and demure daisies line the path to my room. Mary Jo’s love of orchids is on also display with the delicate flowers gracing nearly every space.

Hartstone Inn Camden, Maine www.casualtravelist.comHartstone Inn Camden, Maine www.casualtravelist.comHartstone Inn Camden, Maine Hartstone Inn Camden, Maine www.casualtravelist.comHartstone Inn Camden, Maine

Guests of the inn will be treated to a delectable 2 course breakfast featuring seasonal and local ingredients while Mary Jo and Chef Michael help you plan your day around Maine’s beautiful mid coast.Dessert is always a good start to the day in my opinion and the lemon-berry trifle that greeted us was kissed with the best of Maine’s midsummer blueberry harvest. A savory ham and swiss crepe, an elevated take on the omelet,  justified breakfast’s reputation as the most important meal of the day.

Lemon-blueberry trifle Hartstone Inn Ham and swiss crepe Hartstone Inn

I had the chance to speak with Chef Michael as he graciously gave me a behind the scenes tour of his kitchen. He still blushes when asked about the time he and Mary Jo welcomed Julia Child as a dinner guest at the inn. While visiting her summer home in nearby Deer Isle Julia, her beloved husband Paul and a good friend spent an evening in Camden to dine at the Hartstone. (They originally wanted to stay overnight but the Inn was completely booked. Can you imagine having to tell Julia Child no?). Chef Michael took obvious delight in recounting the culinary icon’s overflowing personality and gracious warmth as she complimented dinner and asked to meet the couple’s two feline children, holding and petting both of them. Before leaving she posed for pictures and signed Chef Michael’s 1966 copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.


The kitchen is not only the studio for the restaurant’s daily creations but also serves as the classroom for the Inn’s weekend cooking classes. Classes cover a wide variety of culinary topics and techniques from how to best showcase Maine’s famous lobster to holiday favorites. Foodies looking for a more personalized experience can sign up to be a Chef for the Day, with one-on-one instruction as you help prepare that evening’s dinner. I’m tempted to join Mary Jo and Chef Michael on their next Foodie Adventure Tour, which in recent years has explored Tuscany, Catalonia and France. Their small group tours explore local villages and markets in search of the region’s best fare before returning to a luxury villa for hands on instruction preparing regional specialties.Chef Michael Salmon Hartstone Inn Camden, Maine www.casualtravelist.comHartstone Inn Camden, Maine

Be sure to save room for the Hartstone’s 5 course chef’s tasting dinner. Chef Michael marries classic French technique with global influences, each course better than the one before. The standout of the night for me was the butter poached lobster with vanilla buerre blanc, the fragrant sauce a perfect foil for Maine’s succulent lobster. Of course you simply must end the meal with one of Chef Michael’s signature souffles(If they’re good enough for Julia Child you better believe I had to try one). Perfectly airy, the rich chocolate souffle was topped with toasty macadamia and finished table side with a cappuccino creme anglaise.

lobster with vanilla buerre blan,c Hartstone Inn Chocolate macadamia souffle, Hartstone Inn

Follow in Julia’s footsteps and head for this charming culinary retreat in Maine. The good food and luxurious quarters in this quintessential coastal New England town have me longing to return.


51 Comments on “The Hartstone Inn, a gourmet getaway in coastal Maine

    • This B &B was really a home away from home(if you have a world class chef at home that is).

    • I completely agree that B&Bs have a much more relaxed and personal feel than a large hotel. I also think they are more reflective on an area’s local culture.

    • I love luxury inns and B&Bs, for me they seem to have a much more personal touch.

  1. This looks like a prefect place for a get-away. And the food looks amazing, although reading this on an empty stomach has made me very hungry indeed! 🙂 Great article
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  2. Looks like the perfect way to experience Maine! I would love to go there someday during the summer months. (I could do without a Maine winter.)

  3. Wow, this place looks amazing! I’ve always loved those huge American Federal style houses, although I admit my pictures of them so far have usually been from films and TV!

    This looks like an ideal romantic getaway place, I may have to look into it and get a surprise trip planned …

  4. I don’t know why I’ve never thought about having dessert for breakfast! It makes so much sense 🙂 I absolutely the old style decor, and having them actually help you plan your day must have been so helpful!

    • The personal touches really made the stay. Dessert goes so well with coffee, its just natural to have it for breakfast 🙂

  5. makes me hungry just reading it. Have never really experienced a B&B but this has definitely opened my eyes, it looks amazing and so homely.

  6. As always your foodie posts leave me drooling and wanting to head to the east coast to try all of this cuisine you taunt us with 😉 I really enjoy staying at B&Bs like this when I travel, my favorite of all being in Savannah, Georgia at the Ballastone Inn. Great post!

    • Aw, thanks 🙂 For me food is one of life’s great pleasures so I can’t help but to gush over it.I’ll have to give the Ballastone Inn a look!

  7. Oh my heavens. You have a way with food writing, that’s for sure. I feel irritated now because I am so hungry and want to eat your photos. “butter poached lobster with vanilla buerre blanc” . . . Looks like an incredible getaway with even better food 🙂

    • Thanks, food is definitely something I’m passionate about and one of my favorite aspects of travel.

  8. I’m loving your Maine posts! It’s somewhere I wouldn’t necessarily think to go but looks enticing! That trifle looks absolutely delicious. They sound like gracious hosts!

    • This trip was for my husband’s mother and Maine is where she chose. We found a state full of natural beauty and some seriously good food.

  9. I’ve found myself checking out the B+B and specialty lodging on Tripadvisor more and more lately! Sometimes there are real gems hidden among them and looks like the Hartsone Inn is one of them.

    • That is crazy! Mary Jo and Chef Michael love exploring Europe and have been to Italy many times so it wouldn’t surprise me if they picked them up there.

  10. My husband and I have been to the Hartstone Inn at least seven times — when I get to our room, I always sigh and say, “We’re home”. It is the most amazing combination of warm and welcoming, absolute professionalism, and out of this world food. I had the lobster you describe. I makes me smile to remember it!

    • Nice to hear from someone who is even more enchanted with the Hartstone than I. The Hartstone and Camden really are a special find aren’t they?

    • It was perfectly suited to its location which is what I look for. I prefer a more modern hotel in urban areas.

  11. Pingback: Historic hospitality at The Mast Farm Inn - Casual Travelist

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