Although there were inhabitants on Maine’s Mount Desert Island as many as 5,000 years ago, it was the arrival of French and English settlers in the 19th century that brought the beautiful area greater fame. Affluent visitors from throughout New England flocked to the island to enjoy the scenic views that had been depicted in popular paintings. After they’d worked up an appetite, many of these visitors would stop by Thomas and Nellie McIntire’s tea house, opened in 1895, on the southern edge of Jordan Pond. The tea house’s specialty? Popovers.
Traditionally enjoyed with afternoon tea, popovers are hollow, egg batter–based rolls. They were created by settlers in Maine as a modification of British Yorkshire pudding, and they’ve been enjoyed by Maine residents ever since.
Along with a rise in the area’s popularity came a rise in efforts to protect its forests, lakes, mountains, and shores. In 1919, the land was dubbed Lafayette National Park. Ten years later, it would earn the name it still bears today: Acadia National Park. In the 1940s, the McIntires’ tea house also became part of the land, as John D. Rockefeller Jr. purchased it and donated it to the National Park Service.
While the original building was destroyed by a fire in 1979, the new Jordan Pond House Restaurant, run by the park, opened just three years later. Visitors typically eat on the restaurant’s lawn, which overlooks the waters and nearby mountains. The popovers traditionally come with butter and strawberry jam. Whether made sweet or savory, this buttery snack satisfies serious hikers and relaxed day-trippers alike.
Need to Know
The restaurant is open from mid-May through late October. Reservations are recommended. Call 207-276-3316. You can find recipes for the restaurant's popovers online.