Nothing about Crown Jewel is predictable: not the tropical, flamingo-themed dining room in a former military blacksmith’s shop on a Casco Bay island; nor Rocky Hunter, the vegan chef in charge of an eclectic, fully omnivorous menu. Yet somehow, after a romantic ferry ride and a Strawberry Smash cocktail, it all makes an idyllic sort of summertime sense.Read More
Limitations are a big part of what makes Crown Jewel great.
The brick-fronted, seasonal restaurant calls attention to some, like its rather remote location on Diamond Cove, a semi-private community on the northern half of Great Diamond Island.
For the better part of a century, the island was home to Fort McKinley, a military base built during the Spanish-American War. As need for the fort disappeared, so did the soldiers and staff who maintained the buildings. In recent decades, the abandoned barracks and station houses have been restored and converted into slate-roofed houses and businesses.
Crown Jewel occupies the former blacksmith’s shop, an active weapons workshop long since converted to a general store that still operates from the rear of the building. You’d never guess that there were once anvils and molten iron here in the pastel, pink-and-coral-hued tropical fantasy of a dining room. Today, the only thing glowing is a Neon Dave sculpture of a tiara-topped flamingo; it buzzes and beckons you to take a seat – perhaps at one of the rattan stools that fringe the turquoise bar, or perhaps on one of the palm-leaf-patterned banquette cushions. There’s a clear seaside vacation theme here, though maybe not the one you’d expect from a restaurant on an island in Casco Bay.Read More