Café Miranda – Not the Food of Cowards!
This small eclectic bistro has called Rockland, Maine home for almost 25 years and was one of the first restaurants to open at the beginning of Rockland’s renaissance to the foodie Mecca in Maine that it is today. Chef owner, Kerry Altiero, is self-taught and credits his Italian and Polish grandmother for encouraging his passion for food. He recently won the 2013 Best Farm to Table Restaurant honor at Portland’s Harvest on the Harbor event and was named the 2012 Maine Lobster Chef of the Year by the Maine Lobster Council.
Café Miranda is decked out in 1950s kitchen tables and chairs with ketchy sets of salt and pepper shakers and signs for hippies to enter by the side door; all of which contribute to the fun and casual atmosphere. The restaurant probably only seats about 30 people (this does almost double in the nice weather with the patio seating) the 7-page menu is quite extensive and offers appetizers, main entrees, pizza, burgers, salads, homemade soups that run the gamut from vegetarian, Italian, Thai, Mexican, Polish, and American and all are cooked in the wood fired brick oven! Chef Altiero and staff love to kick thing up a notch so trust them if they describe a dish as “spicy”. If you a less adventurous diner, not to worry, they offer hot dogs, pizza, burger, meatloaf or pot roast. Portions are very, very generous and the bread made daily and also cooked in the wood fired oven is a meal onto itself.
Kerry sources much of his food locally and even raises the majority of his greens and vegetables at his own farm.
He offers lobster dishes in the summer season but not the traditional steamed fare. His lobster mac’n cheese is a personal favorite. The ingredients change seasonally, all of the pastas are made on site and their signature foccacia bread is well what gluten lovers dream of!
We recommend ordering a bunch (3-4) of appetizers and “grazing” so that you do not have to limit your choice to one item. The wait staff is great and very knowledgeable and can let you know if you are going way overboard on quantity of food or can help you navigate the extensive offerings. Café Miranda is a favorite recommendation for us when we have guests that require special diets in particular no gluten. Kerry and staff get it, in fact one of the chef’s at the restaurant is celiac also so he really gets it. They offer no-gluten pasta and know not to cook it in regular pasta water! If you have food allergies or restrictions make sure you talk to your wait person about them and they will help you navigate the menu. There are a lot of different ingredients in each dish and each dish is always “hand crafted” so if you really hate peppers or have an allergy to mushrooms make sure they know so you do not get any unpleasant surprises.
As with many of Rockland’s restaurants they are very small and do not have waiting areas. Reservations (207-594-2034) are strongly encouraged throughout the year including the winter season when seating is limited to the inside area only. For some live entertainment at dinner, request counter seating (the right side as you face the kitchen offers the best unobstructed views) and watch all of the meals prepared before your eyes in the tiniest of kitchen areas and cooked in the wood fired oven. The staff is a well oiled (sometimes it seems in more ways than one!) machine and it is fascinating to watch. Also from this vantage point you can watch people’s reactions as they walk into Kerry’s tribute to Elvis bathroom with the life-sized back-lit bust of the King greeting them!
Café Miranda is one of the restaurants that participates in our Rockland inn’s Savor the Flavor of Rockland – Dine Around package from January through May where you get to sample three of the best restaurants in Rockland Maine in one great evening of grazing! Café Miranda is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner (Brunch on Sunday) and only closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas. Unlike some of the other downtown restaurants, Café Miranda prides itself on staying open even in bad weather!!! Dinner service starts at 5pm and lunch is served 11:30-2pm. Reservations 207-594-2034.