Joshua's, a Restaurant and Bar in Southern Maine

Letters and reviews

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One of the joys of working at Joshua’s is the wonderful supportive comments we hear. One never tires of hearing nice things about the job one is doing. When someone takes the time to write us a letter, well, that is very special.

If you wish to add your comments to the web site, please use the guest book...or write us a letter.

February 2011

Dear Chef, Winter is a notoriously difficult time for me. The cold, the dark and the seperation of me and nature tends to take its toll. This time of year with the increased sunlight, the brief visits of warmer temps and the return of visible and audible nature perk me up. I just wanted to add that your fresh, varied, crisp and beautiful salads and balsamic dressing and bread do too! Tig

 

May 2010

To Joshua: Before we left your restaurant tonight my mother said "since I have been coming here, I never go out to eat (anywhere else) and like it".  Thank you so much. You are the best.  Ashley and Candy Hanson (Orland, Maine)

September 2008

Dear Joshua:

            Recently, on a Monday night at 5pm we dined at your restaurant. We were staying at the Sparhawk and asked at the front desk for a recommendation for dinner. The lady directed us to you. We are frequent visitors to Ogunquit and have patronized many of the fine restaurants in the area but have never dined with you. We just wanted you to know what a wonderful experience we had. From the hostess to the service and most of all the food—all top notch. I am in the food business in New York and am very critical. I could not find fault with anything. My husband and I both had appetizers—artichokes and a Caesar salad. Our entrees were the filet and Atlantic haddock. Everything was done to perfection—even the steamed vegetables. We finished our meal with the maple walnut pie with maple ice cream.

            Thank you for a wonderful evening. Please thank your staff also. We will be back and will recommend you to everyone we talk to!

Sincerely Tom and Linda Fitzpatrick, Scotia, NY

 

May 17, 2008

Dear Joshua:

On Mother’s Day my wife and I ran into you in Ogunquit and I mentioned how wonderful your mussels in blue cheese appetizer was. We mentioned that we were intending to have dinner at your establishment on Wednesday and you remarked that you might include them on your menu for that night. When we were seated on Wednesday and opened the menu, what to my wondering eyes should appear but, you guessed it, mussels in blue cheese.

            My wife and I each had an order and finished every last drop of that delicious sauce. My wife had the duck entree and I had the halibut. Both were served with mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables. (Scrumptious!)

            Every trip to Ogunquit for us must include at least one visit to Joshua’s for a wonderful meal. This last trip was our fourth visit. Keep up the good work. A first class operation. Looking forward to our next visit this fall.

Sincerely,

 Dan & Nancy Lynn, Kingston, PA

 

September 22, 2006

 

Dear Joshua and Barbara,

            We just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you so much for a fantastic dining experience. My family had such a variety of dishes from soup, crab cakes, rack of lamb, duck to your excellent desserts (my favorite was the maple walnut pie).

            I couldn’t wait to brag to some of the other patrons at our resort to have them try your place out. My aunt and uncle live about 1 hour away in N. H. They promise to come by soon.

Thank you again for all your hospitality,

Sincerely, Linda and Dave Johansen, Saratoga Springs, NY

 

August 30, 2006

 

Dear Barbara, Joshua and Mort,

            Thank you for a completely enjoyable dining experience during my recent vacation stay with friends in Ogunquit. To be so comfortable and casual (and yet so elegant…) in our evening with you was memorable.

            And, of course, the food! Preparation and presentation is so detailed but never pretentious or stuffy. After exchanging sample bites of each order, there could be no winner or favorite as each was its own distinct plate. (lamb, agnolotti, haddock, crab cakes, ice cream, fudge pie, etc…)

            All I can say is every mouthful felt “round”, ‘fulfilled”, “complete”!! Can’t wait to visit you again, soon! Congratulations and thanks again.

Cordially,

Greg Cesario, Chicago, Illinois

 

August 25, 2006

 

Dear Joshua:

We just wanted to take a moment to let you know how much we enjoyed eating at your restaurant this week. The food was absolutely delicious!! It was our first time dining at your restaurant, which came highly recommended to us by a friend. My husband’s only complaint was with the wine we had with our dinner. He ordered the Badger Mountain Merlot, which was listed as a medium bodied red. It was very thin at best, and that was after being left to breath. It should be listed as a light bodied red or taken from the menu, as there are better choices available.

 

Again, our dining experience at your restaurant was superb, which was a reflection of your talents and skills. We will not hesitate to recommend your restaurant to anyone.

 

We look forward to returning next year for a wonderful culinary experience.

 

Sincerely,

Helene and Michael Demas, Brooklyn, NY

 

8/16/2006

Dear Joshua’s:

I don’t usually write letters like this; but I feel compelled to let you know how much we enjoyed your restaurant!

The food was incredibly delicious and we were so pleased and impressed by the fact that you’re using organic, fresh and natural ingredients. As owners of a health food store, we eat this way at home as much as possible. It was such a pleasure to go to your charming restaurant to enjoy a wonderful and healthy meal—so much so, we were there two nights in a row!

See you next year on our vacation.

Sally and John Molatras, West Milford, N.J.

 

10/18/05

Dear Management at Joshua’s,

I wanted to drop a note to you because we—two girlfriends and myself in the area antiquing for the weekend—dined at your restaurant last Saturday night. We’d never been to the area and were staying at the Beach Farm Inn just down hwy 1 from you. The innkeepers there recommended your restaurant to us upon check-in. Neither of them had dined with you before—kept too busy most evenings managing their B&B to sneak away, but had heard good things about you, so lent us the fabulous recommendation.

 

At any rate, just wanted to let you know that Helen & Craig at the Beach Farm Inn (great place, by the way!) sent us your way. We had a fabulous evening dining in your bar.

 

Thanks and best of luck for your continued success.

Laura Tocchet,  San Francisco, CA

 

6/05

Dear Joshua,

My prediction is that, sooner or later, you’re going to be New England’s premier chef! We’ll be in soon again. Huge kudos for a great restaurant.    Dodie Phillips, Keys to the Kitchen, Kennebunk

 

“I’m writing to let you know that your establishment has been specially recommended in the Rough Guide to New England. As you may know, Rough Guides is one of the most successful and respected travel brands in the world….We list a lot of places but only a few qualify for a special recommendation of this kind, which highlights your establishment as one of our authors’ favorites.”  Martin Dunford, Publishing Director

"Joshua’s Restaurant. Inside this unassuming chocolate-colored house chef Joshua Mather grills, sears, and sautés some of Maine’s best cuisine. Many of the dishes use ingredients from his own local farm."

Rough Guides are published in London. We were the only restaurant in the area to receive the special recommendation.

 
 

Our thanks to DOWN EAST magazine and author, Michael Sander for a wonderful review in the April 2005 issue!

 

Joshua’s Restaurant, Wells

Fresh food from an organic farm is the secret behind a southern Maine standout.

 

Pull up at Joshua’s Restaurant in Wells on a Friday night after dark, and you immediately have the impression that a warm sanctuary awaits you on the other side of the door. A restored 1774 house of sober visage, warm light spills from the ground floor windows and doorway, and peeking around the back, a wall of more windows, those of a recent addition, give you a glimpse of happily nattering diners at tables on one side and a working kitchen on the other.

 

Once inside, your impressions are confirmed: floors of wide pine and bright maple, old brick fireplaces, and Indian shutters in two open rooms that take their colors, if not their atmosphere, from the Colonial palette. To the left, a cozy bar beckons, often the refuge of latecomers who can enjoy a full meal without feeling left out of the action. To the right, a large room opens before you: waitresses and waiters in nicely formal black and white bustle about with plates and bottles of wine, the air is filled with auspicious aromas of cooking, and a wrong turn at the far end reveals the kitchen in full press, its proximity adding a nice energy to the room.

 

Joshua Mather’s mother, Barbara, runs the front of the house, and that white-haired fellow glimpsed lending a hand here and there is Mort, his father, who is also the restaurant’s farmer. This is not an affectation or a hobby, for in many ways it seems the restaurant is almost an outgrowth of that organic farm not five miles away, which the family started more than thirty years ago and from which they made a living selling vegetables and baked goods to restaurants from Ogunquit to Portland.

 

“I was raised on the farm,” Josh says. “I played in the fields, and all of our food came from it. If you wanted to eat something, it was out in the garden. We also had organic beef, pigs, chickens.” It was where he learned to appreciate food in its natural state, “that spring lettuce is so buttery it almost melts in your mouth, but then in the fall, it has a meatier taste to it.” It was where he learned the art and craft of farming and raising animals, how to butcher chickens and pigs, all experiences that instilled in him a deep respect for natural ingredients so evident in his cooking.

 

Thirty years old and self-taught, he spent eight years cooking in the restaurants of others, in Oregon and Ogunquit, before setting out on his own a year ago. In keeping with its very American setting and his own upbringing, Joshua’s plates are unfussy and honest, with nary a trace of “tall food” or other pretense. It is a place where you can almost always identify exactly what you are eating because it has not been pureed, sprouted, strained, jellied, stuffed, foamed, preserved in aspic, or otherwise manipulated so much as to lose its natural essence. “We’re farmers,” Josh says simply. “Food should speak for itself, which is why I pay so much attention to purveyors, because I don’t want to have to do a lot to what comes through the door. And when it’s from our farm, I never have to worry.” Out of season, and for things Mort can’t otherwise provide in sufficient quantity, Josh relies on largely organic produce and meat, fish, and poultry from local sources.

 

Everything here is made from scratch, which is one reason the restaurant is only open for dinner. Josh’s day starts mid-morning, when he has the chance to work with one of his favorite ingredients, organic flour. I love making bread,” Joshua says. “It gets my day under way. And I know that sometimes the customers don’[t realize it, but the first thing they put in their mouths is the first thing I made that morning.”

 

You can start with generous salads or a bowl of the daily soup, but it is a little farther down the menu that Josh begins to strut his stuff, with first courses like chunks of tender lamb with mustard and coriander served skewered on rosemary stems that infuse them with their flavor on the grill. Or the seasonal house flatbread smothered with an ever-changing variety of interesting combinations: grilled asparagus and pancetta, lobster and pesto, roasted red pepper and grilled shrimp, fresh mozzarella and basil and garlic oil. As Josh says, “the flatbread is just a vehicle!” The mushroom confit – sliced portobellos, shiitakes, and whole tiny buttons slowcooked, then tossed with a truffle-scented butter and shaved parmigiano reggiano – is a rich, dark testament to the glory of that chef’s mantra: “slow and low does the trick.”

 

Except in the depths of winter, when he works with a reduced staff, he also offers “sliders,” a trio of small tastes served on a bird’s-eye maple cutting board where the “vehicle” can be anything from endive leaves to crostini to a homemade potato chip, topped with a bit of grilled lamb with chutney, an oyster or thin-sliced scallop, or a small brochette of beef or fish.

 

There are eight to ten substantial entrees to choose from (and always a vegetarian choice), with two stalwarts always on the menu. One, and probably the most traditional thing he serves, is a filet mignon served with a classic sauce of pinot noir and beef glace`. The other, his most popular dish, is Atlantic haddock in a caramelized onion crust spiked with chive oil, and earthy wild mushroom risotto balancing the lightness of the fish. You can find unusual but not outrageous pairing here – pan-roasted scallops with pumpkin risotto and roasted beets and mushrooms, for example, which are so good they prompt the home cook to wonder, why didn’t I think of that? Or, in warmer seasons, perhaps a seared halibut over sautéed spring greens, with roasted ramps and fiddlehead ferns simply dressed with tomato vinaigrette in a pleasant jumble on the side.

 

 

Because the portions here are ample, but not overly so, you’ll probably want to choose from the short list of desserts. There are richer selections like maple walnut tart and fudge pie – two things this family has been making for more than twenty years – but also simple fruit cobblers, pies, and crisps, all served with the restaurant’s own vanilla ice cream.

 

By the time you walk out the door, you will certainly understand Joshua’s motto: “Fresh food, simply prepared.” You will also be replete, your daily travails assuaged by an experience good for the body and soul, and one that keeps our farmers farming and our fishermen fishing. What more can you ask of a meal than that?  --Michael Sanders

March 2005
Dear Barbara, Joshua and Mort,
I received my Down East yesterday and what a wonderful review for your restaurant. You should be very proud; it shows how your hard work and diligence has been truly worth all the effort.
 
My heartfelt congratulations to the three of you. It goes without saying; I can't wait to dine with you again in the very near future.
 
Fondly Suzanne Graves, Ogunquit

December 2004

 

Dear Joshua,

 

I can't say enough about your wonderful restaurant. The food is outstanding, prepared with care, perfect in every way--not too much sauce or salt to hide the fine flavor of garden vegetables and fresh meat.

 

Of course, Mom and Dad add a warm addition to the atmosphere and beautiful surroundings.

 

Congratulations!

 

Doris Adams, Wells

 

P.S. A fine addition to the Town of Wells

 

 

August 24, 2004

 

To the staff at Joshua’s,

 

This past weekend I took a trip up to Maine from Connecticut with my grandparents. I have been to the area many times growing up, but it has been years since my last visit.

 

Most of our meals are usually on the casual side, but we always try to get out for one “nice meal”. And of course, being the grand baby (I’m 29 by the way), our dinner location was my choice.

 

On our many trips up and down Rte. 1 I had noticed your restaurant. It was actually your sign that caught my eye. It has a somewhat contemporary look to it that intrigued me considering it was in front of such an old home.

 

Needless to say, I selected Joshua’s for our “nice meal”, although nice meal doesn’t begin to describe our experience at your restaurant. Everything was fantastic! Barbara and Mort were very pleasant, as was our server, Andrea. I had the filet mignon, my grandfather had the haddock, and my grandmother had the chicken. After almost every bite my grandmother said that it was probably the best chicken that she has ever had! And my grandfather, who can be very particular about his fish, said it was delicious. As for my filet, it was melt in your mouth! And the fresh vegetables were cooked perfectly.

 

All in all, everything was wonderful and we will highly recommend Joshua’s to anyone visiting the Wells area. Congratulations on the new restaurant and good luck in the years to come. Although if your service and standards remain at the level they are at now, you won’t need any luck!!

 

Sincerely,

Chrystal Adams

Wallingford, CT

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