The Goldenrod in York Beach Maine is on my short list of favorite vintage visits each summer. Opened in 1896, my first visit was only in the past 12 years or so, but from the moment I saw their great neon signs and stepped into the Rustic Dining room, I felt like I was part of a great local tradition that hadn’t changed much in over 100 years.
Each summer for a number of years before I moved away, my long time pal Jeannie and I would meet at the Goldenrod for lunch in their wooden beamed old fashioned dining room. I took the fact that they did not serve french fried as a side, but rather just chips, as a sign of their old fashioned quaintness, and, indulging in a crab salad sandwich, I felt like I was in a place that my grandmother and her “cronies” would lunch at – a tasty destination and excuse for a drive up the coast.
After our chatty lunch, and too full to order the ice cream sundae with that rare local delicacy penuche sauce topping, Jeannie and I would poke into the small gift shops surrounding the quaint convergence of roads known as the downtown of York Beach, Maine. Or we’d amble down to the water at the beach across from the Goldenrod and dip our toes in the ice-cube freezing water, long enough for our toes to curl up and cramp, then sit on a blanket and catch each other up on our lives. Occasionally we’d play a game of skeeball at the Fun-O-Rama.
Or toy with the idea of candlepin bowling just steps from the sand.
Perhaps a leisurely stroll through York Wild Animal Kingdom, where we’d laugh remembering our pre-teen visits there, where we’d all thought that the guy running the go-karts looked like Paul McCartney. All in all, plenty of fun ways to while away a summer afternoon, while also making room for that once-a-year dessert treat, before returning home.
Because the Goldenrod is only open seasonally, Jeannie and I had not relived our “old lady lunches” in a number of years, and since I knew I HAD TO get the Goldenrod onto the Retro Roadmap for you all, I started planning our visit back in May. The weekend confirmed, I looked forward to it greatly, and not even the thought of my newly broken foot would keep me from the 7+ hour drive up there!
Our weekend visit took a turn for the incredible when I found out that we would not just be driving up for the day, but that relatives of Jeannie’s had graciously offered to let us stay at their beach house, just steps from the rocky shore, and with a wonderful vintage chaise lounge for me to rest my heavy foot on. Since my plans of traversing the town and as much of the Maine coast as I could had been thwarted by my injury, the oversized porch became a wonderful place to stay and recuperate.
(if you want this glorious view for yourself, they rent out the house – contact me for the info)
Knowing that the Goldenrod was in such easy reach made me a bit complacent, knowing it was there whenever we wanted to eat there, but it also gave me ample opportunity to photograph their beautiful neon signs, or watch the creation of their famous salt water taffy “Goldenrod Kisses” that they make right in the front window for all to see
Taffy Pulling in the window:
The Goldenrod, with it’s classic New England beach house look, white paint, red geraniums and green awnings, looked good at every time of day, but it wasn’t ’til the last day of our visit that our schedule aligned so that we could grab a bite there. (a relaxed lobster lunch the day before and unexpected dinner invitation left me without room to truly savor what I had driven 7 hours to eat, and I wasn’t about to miss that taste).
The Rustic Dining Room was abustle as soon as we walked in so we found ourselves at the marble soda fountain counter not much past 9am on a Sunday morning.
While the folks next to us ordered their oatmeal “just-so” – I knew immediately what I would order for breakfast:
Our waitress took it in stride when I ordered a “penuche sundae with coffee ice cream, whipped cream, no cherry and a side of bacon, please” while Jeannie had a cup of coffee. I’m sure there were more glances cast askew once my “breakfast” arrived, but I only had eyes for what was in front of me – a delicious combination of hot/cold/sweet/salty/creamy/crunchy. Heaven! Jeannie couldn’t resist and did have a spoonful of her own to savor, and we both left the counter contented.
A quick turn ’round the gift shop and candy counter revealed another layer of old fashioned wonderfulness in some of the candy choices still carried by The Goldenrod, including chocolate covered Needhams, Boston Baked Beans, and my fave Molasses Sponge.
Feeling a bit like the grandmother I referred to earlier, I found some bright red barley sugar “lobster pops” for the Retro Roadkids, a handful of postcards from this wonderful old establishment, and hobbled out the door to my car. After a quick hug goodbye to my dear pal and a wonderful weekend, I was pleased to no end to know that the Goldenrod was still going strong, and would give that “stepped back in time” feel to everyone, for years to come.
The Goldenrod - open seasonally
2 Railroad Avenue
York Beach, ME 03910
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