FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — A local gourmet establishment has won accolades in DownEast magazine’s annual poll of reader and editor favorites, to be featured in the July issue. Canterbury Royale was named both readers’ and editors’ choice in the Best Romantic Restaurant category.
According to magazine officials, thousands of DownEast readers voted from January through April for their statewide selections, while editors went through a rigorous selection process of their own, and Canterbury Royale was top in its category.
Readers’ choice winners are based on popular vote and are an opportunity to recognize readers’ favorite people, places and things in Maine; meanwhile, editors choose their own favorites to receive recognition each year.
“We are tickled to death and we are so humbled that we were chosen, and this gives us more exposure outside of Aroostook County,” said Chef Barbara Boucher, who runs Canterbury Royale along with Chef Renee O’Neill. Boucher said though magazine representatives indicated it was difficult for outsiders to break in, several did break into the top listings this year.
“It’s a wonderful thing that they chose us,” she continued. “It was our supporters, our clients, our friends, the people who follow us on Facebook, because they are the people who voted for us. We are extremely appreciative to these people, because they actually took the time to vote for us to actually get further-reaching arms to the outside world.”
The restaurant specializes in a French haute cuisine and multiple-course dining, the chef explained. “So when people come, they are coming to a European feast. It is the menu of the kings that we serve. We have paved the road, and we are continuing to pave the road, of bringing culinary cuisine to our area.”
She noted the restaurant has previously been recognized in DownEast, as well as Yankee magazine and the Sunday Boston Globe. In addition, WLBZ’s Bill Greene has visited to do a profile on his program “Bill Greene’s Maine.”
Boucher was just as enthusiastic about the work itself. “Chef Renee and I, we love it. We absolutely adore serving our clientele. They have a grand time and we have a grand time, so it’s a win-win situation.
“We’re in a residential area, surrounded by evergreen trees, and when people enter they say they are transported to Europe when they step in. We’re behind the scenes having a great time preparing our cuisine. They’re delighted and, in turn, we’re delighted.”
Kathleen Fleury, DownEast editor-in-chief, said, “Our readers love Maine for many different reasons, and the Readers’ Choice awards encourage them to show their support for the people and places that make the state so great.” She added the selection process is one everyone puts a lot of time and thought into — so it’s a true honor to be selected.”
Fleury called the list a work in progress. “Every year we discover previously unknown spots on our travels and we receive tips from our readers for future consideration,” she added. “This is all part of what makes this one of the most eagerly anticipated issues of the year, and one that is also the most fun for us to work on.”
The full list of “Best of Maine” winners appears in the July issue, on newsstands June 23.
Boucher reflected the eatery’s recognition proves something else: The County isn’t as far “away from it all” as one might think.
“Aroostook County has culture, it has music, it has everything — it’s just a little more hidden. Every time somebody chooses us, it shows we have it all. Little by little, we keep trying to show people outside our area that we have this. All you have to do is come.”
For more information, call Canterbury Royale at 472-4910 or visit their page on Facebook.