Finding safe food in new locales might be the most difficult part of traveling on a gluten free diet.

kennebunkport maine

Beth Hillson

When we discover a spot where the folks are friendly and tuned in to my diet, we keep going back. For that reason and more, we’ve been calling Bufflehead Cove Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine, our home away from home for the last three years.

It doesn’t hurt that this spot is nestled in the estuary of the Kennebunk River, a mile before it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. A little off the beaten track in busy Kennebunkport, it’s a bucolic place to sit and let nature come to you. Time is measured by the rise and fall of the tide: at high tide, the river is full of birds, fish and kayakers. At low tide, the mud flats bare their rich supply of shell fish and the seagulls feast to their heart’s content.

At Bufflehead Cove, owners Harriet and Jim and their son, Erin, make every guest feel at home. They are careful to serve me a safe gluten-free breakfast. Aunt Helena (Harriet’s sister) shows me packages before she makes pancakes and checks the ingredients in a granola before topping my dish of spiced peaches. Then she outlines a protocol: lining the baking sheets with foil; using separate bowls and spoons; toasting my bread under the broiler.

kennebunkport maine

Beth Hillson

Sometimes Helena uses a Pamela’s mix; other times her fallback mix comes from Gluten-Free Pantry. That brings a chuckle all around when I explain that I founded Gluten-Free Pantry. From the porch where breakfast is served, we watch a canoer fighting a hungry Bald Eagle for custody of a striped bass, and my concern is only who will win out, not whether my toast will be contaminated by gluten-y crumbs.

Snacks are out all day and labeled to let me know which ones are safe.  This time, there are Glutino Gluten-Free Pantry Chocolate Truffle Brownies plated along a label. I eat several although I promised to stop at one.

From Bufflehead Cove, named for the Bufflehead ducks that have taken up residence here, it’s a little more than a mile walk to the center of Kennebunkport. As you make the journey by foot, you’ll be grateful you left the car back at the inn and are not fighting the tourists for a parking spot.

kennebunkport maine

Kennebunk and Kennebunkport offer several restaurants that are tuned in to the gluten-free diet, too.  We frequently stop at H.B. Provisions, a modern version of a general store that offers sandwiches on gluten-free bread (made in a separate area, if requested) and a freezer filled with gluten-free provisions.  Many restaurants offer lobster dinners (all gluten free except the cornbread and rolls). 50 Local features a short menu with dishes made from locally-grown and raised ingredients.  The chef can accommodate the gluten-free diet in most dishes. Just ask.

For a splurge, we go to Ocean Restaurant in the Cape Arundel Hotel, overlooking Walker Point and the Bush compound. We even dined next to the Bush family on one occasion – a real production since everything must be vetted by the Secret Service. I do my own style of vetting when we eat at Ocean. A knowledgeable kitchen makes this a safe treat indeed.

Book ahead for any of these spots because Kennebunkport is a summer and fall destination for many.


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