2016-08-08 / Front Page

Dining with a view

‘Ocean’ rated among nation’s most scenic restaurants
By ALAN BENNETT Staff Writer


A patron’s view of the water from the dining room at Ocean in Kennebunkport, listed among the “100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America for 2016.” In addition to a beautiful view, diners are served elegant fare crafted by seasoned chef Pierre Gignac. 
ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune A patron’s view of the water from the dining room at Ocean in Kennebunkport, listed among the “100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America for 2016.” In addition to a beautiful view, diners are served elegant fare crafted by seasoned chef Pierre Gignac. ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune KENNEBUNKPORT — Of all the things for which Maine is known, food and beautiful scenery definitely rank near the top.

And diners around the country seem to agree, because they’ve rated Ocean restaurant at the Cape Arundel Inn and Resort among the “100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America for 2016.”

The list, compiled by real-time restaurant reservation service OpenTable, claims its most scenic restaurant list “highlights restaurants that offer spectacular views of natural wonder and city landmarks and, above all, delicious dining experiences.”

Ocean is the only Maine restaurant on the list, which was generated from 5 million reviews of more than 20,000 restaurants across the country and includes establishments from Central Park to the golden California coast.


Yellowtail Carpaccio with shallot vinaigrette, olive oil, bell peppers, radishes and pickled mango at Ocean at Cape Arundel Inn and Resort in Kennebunkport. The restaurant was listed among the “100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America for 2016” by users of restaurant reservation service, OpenTable. 
ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune Yellowtail Carpaccio with shallot vinaigrette, olive oil, bell peppers, radishes and pickled mango at Ocean at Cape Arundel Inn and Resort in Kennebunkport. The restaurant was listed among the “100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America for 2016” by users of restaurant reservation service, OpenTable. ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune It’s easy to see why Ocean would make the list: Perched atop a gentle hill overlooking the crystal waters of the Atlantic Ocean with yachts casually passing by, the views offered from Ocean’s wall-to-wall windows are divine.

Inside it’s nautical, yet nuanced: freshly-pressed white tablecloths surrounded by black leather chairs offer an intimate and eclectic eating experience. A glistening bar, a beacon in the dark, overlooks the two-tiered dining room and, by extension, the waters of the Maine coast.

It’s undoubtedly beautiful, but Executive Chef Pierre Gignac says that although diners may come for the view, they always seem to stay for the food.

Gignac hails from Montreal and received a degree from the Institut d’Hotellerie et de Tourisme du Quebec before moving to Maine, where in Ogunquit he opened his acclaimed restaurant 98 Provence in 1995. That restaurant remained a fixture of French Provencal-style cooking in southern Maine before it closed in 2012, when Gignac decided to pursue other ventures.

After being scouted by management with Kennebunkport Resort Collection, Gignac joined the team at Cape Arundel Inn and Resort, where he now focuses his efforts on a seasonal menu that highlights fresh, local ingredients.

This summer’s offerings include sea scallops Grenobloise, with cauliflower puree, lemons and capers ($16); yellowtail Carpaccio with Crete olive oil, bell peppers, cucumbers, and pickled mango ($15); and farmed chicken stuffed with apricots and pistachios, served over a sweet corn risotto ($34).

Patrons in search of lighter fare can enjoy a spread of tapas and other light bites over craft cocktails or an expansive wine list, either at the bar or on the hotel’s scenic porch.

Gignac, who has been cooking for 30 years, said he tries to incorporate as much of his formal Provencal training into his dishes as possible and meticulously plans his menus for months.

But, he said, he still always makes sure his cuisine is approachable, noting that anyone can come into Ocean and feel comfortable.

“It is still a tourist resort,” Gignac said. “It’s ‘upscale casual.’ It’s not as specialized (as 98 Provence); it’s more classical.”

But just because he’s catering to out-of-towners doesn’t mean he sacrifices quality.

Gignac is friends with the farmers delivering his restaurant’s produce, and has established relationships with his seafood distributors. For him, as both a chef and his toughest critic, Ocean is about bringing the best possible ingredients to his customers.

“Best of the best: That’s what we pride ourselves in,” Gignac said.

Ocean is open for dinner every night from 5-9 p.m. For reservations, call 967-4015 or visit capearundelinn.com/dining. The restaurant is located at the Cape Arundel Inn and Resort at 208 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport.

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

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