One of the best things about writing about food is visiting places where I get to eat and drink coffee. Recently, I visited Dovey’s Kitchen in Industry, Maine at the head of Clearwater Lake. It’s a version of a country mom and pop store. The owners, Phil and Dovey Balsam are indeed, a mom and pop. Phil also drives a tractor trailer for NRF Distributors and Dovey is a Selectperson.
The morning I visited, the sky was vibrant blue. Mountains, with majestic confidence, formed a backdrop to Clearwater Lake. Families were gathering at the adjacent beach. Visitors were arriving by foot, car, bike or boat. Upon entering the store, I was impressed by the charming wood and glass, countertop bakery case, which had been purchased at the local antique store. Inside it were Dovey’s famous breads, and other assorted baked goods. I spied “Long Johns”. No, not the thermal ones we Mainers might wear in winter. A quick look and we might think they are éclairs, but éclairs are a choux dough piped onto a baking sheet, baked and then filled with a sugary custard and topped with chocolate icing. Long Johns are long and flat and made of doughnut dough, fried, and filled with jelly or vanilla pudding. They’re an American thing, originating in the 1940’s and seem to be of Midwest origin. A sweet blast from the past. To my left, are carafes of coffee made from fresh roasted beans from Somerset Coffee and Tea. A selection of fine teas are neatly arranged in a wooden case. They both sit beside flavored syrup, cane sugar, and milk. If it’s really good coffee, cream or sweetener isn’t required. I had “Kelly’s Breakfast Blend”. It passed the test. Several times.
Inside Dovey’s is like a stage set of “home”, with the charm of a corner fireplace, comfy seating and the aroma of fresh baked goods.
Outside are sweet, white and blue fountain-style tables and chairs. On the back deck, where I met with Phil, tables and benches afford a place to watch people boat in and make their way inside to order breakfast and pick up a paper.
While I was there, the Brightmans pulled up in their golf-cart-battery, powered boat, “Clearwater Queen”, to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary over breakfast sandwiches and coffee. A lad of four caught a sunfish and proclaimed the fact with squeals of delight while jumping up and down.
Dovey’s Kitchen was born of Dovey’s vision to make fresh food available to the community. One day, Phil surprised her with a lease on a local store, which had been closed for two years. They ripped up flooring, mended walls, installed new flooring and a beautiful, locally crafted bar. He snagged a deal on the perfect oven. To get it into the store they had to remove the legs and slide it across the counter to the other side and settle it into place. Visitors can see why this was an impressive feat.
Phil and Dovey will accommodate various eating needs. They have a good selection of breakfast options, sandwiches, burgers and pizzas. Indulge in the “small batch” ice cream from “The Ice Cream Machine”. Phil’s goal is to be making their own brownies and hot fudge and caramel. I’ll be watching Facebook for that announcement!
Dovey uses fresh ingredients like lard and butter, and organic and local when possible. She roasts fresh chicken for chicken salad. Beef is from their farm and they sell local eggs, including duck, and a few other local products.
Steve Harris was on his way to a wake and stopped by for Phil’s help with his tie. Phil related the story of helping a customer last winter who was having trouble with his truck. Phil plowed him out and then got his truck running. These are the kind of things they do regularly to give back to their community. Veterans get a 10% discount. Dovey says “treat people the way you want to be treated”. Amen!
Dovey’s is a good place to slow down, breathe in fresh, Maine air, select something delicious to eat and enjoy the lake view. Phil and Dovey plan to build a larger deck and expand the kitchen. Old Man Winter needs to provide frozen water for ice fishing and snow for snowmobilers to draw in the winter crowd. In the meantime, they will persist in providing delicious food and beverages, including wines and craft beers. And of course, plenty of goodwill and conversation.