Home Restaurants Linda Bean Restaurant in Freeport, Maine – Honest Review

Linda Bean Restaurant in Freeport, Maine – Honest Review

by Derrick Grant
linda bean restaurant

Freeport, Maine is visited by thousands upon thousands of tourists every year. Tourists traveling north along the coast often stop in to visit the LL Bean flagship store, and tourists staying in southern Maine will often make the short trip north to Freeport for the same reason. Of course, Freeport offers many other stores surrounding LL Bean including numerous outlet stores.

Shopping is inevitably coupled with dining, and Freeport’s visitors have several Maine-themed restaurants to choose from, all within walking distance of the stores. Exiting LL Bean, shoppers see the Linda Bean restaurant directly across the street. Seeing the common “Bean” name and its convenient location, it is an easy draw for hungry shoppers.

Is the Linda Bean restaurant any good, though? I’ll give you my honest review, but first…

Who is Linda Bean? A Controversial Figure

Newcomers to Maine inevitably know the “Bean” name, but may not know of Linda Bean herself. Mainers on the other hand, we have a long history with her, and much of it is controversial.

Linda Bean is a granddaughter of Leonwood Bean, the founder of LL Bean. She is also a businesswoman and has a history in politics.

Linda Bean ran for Congress in Maine two different times, once in 1988 and once in 1992. She lost both elections. She also donated $25,000 to Making Maine Great Again, a political action committee that was supporting Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Trump tweeted his thanks for her support, but even that donation came with some scrutiny by the FCC.

Donald Trump's Linda Bean tweet

Trump’s tweet created a backlash, and the group Grab Your Wallet advocated boycotting LL Bean on the grounds of Trump’s support. This forced LL Bean to make their own statement disavowing any connection with Linda Bean’s support for Trump, stating that she is “only one of 50+ family members involved in the business.”

Linda’s business practices have also come under scrutiny. PETA, the animal rights group, conducted an undercover investigation into one of her lobster processing businesses, secretly filming workers and describing, in their words, how the workers “tore off live lobsters’ claws and then used metal pipes to pry their heads from their bodies … slammed the crabs against sharp metal spikes … and then violently scrubbed off their exposed internal organs with spinning brushes.”

People defending the practice argued that lobsters cannot feel pain.

Linda Bean Maine Kitchen & Topside Tavern Review

This wasn’t my first trip to the Linda Bean Maine Kitchen & Topside Tavern restaurant. My wife and I visited it a few times years ago after it first opened, and we’d visited a few times since then. On this trip, I was accompanied by the two young men I was taking back-to-school shopping in Freeport’s many clothing outlet stores.

hungry boys
My fellow shoppers and reviewers inside the Linda Bean Topside Tavern.

Young foodies themselves, they’ve acquired their own opinions on what constitutes good food, and their orders allowed me to sample more than one dish.

The Atmosphere

The restaurant is well-positioned in Freeport, right on Route 1 at the corner of Bow Street, directly across from LL bean. The interior is bright and airy, and the restaurant has ample outside seating with heat lamps during cooler months. Most people prefer outside seating (I do as well), but that also includes a wait. In the interest of time, we opted to sit inside the bar area where we did not have to wait to be seated.


Appetizers at the restaurant include many Maine-themed dishes you would expect: seafood chowder, crab cakes, steamed clams, lobster stew, clam chowder, etc. Linda Bean has also put her name on many of the dishes: “Linda’s Creamy Maine Lobster Bisque,” and “Linda’s Clam Chowder,” and “Linda’s Corn Chowder.”

My wife and I always enjoyed the Blueberry BBQ Wings, something I have not seen anywhere outside of Linda Bean’s restaurant. Knowing the boys love a good BBQ wings, we ordered this appetizer to start. The tie to Maine here is that Maine is the leading producer of wild blueberries.

Linda Bean's Blueberry BBQ wings
Blueberry BBQ Wings appetizer

The picture above looks a bit sparse, but we declined the offer of any ranch or bleu cheese dressing to dip them in. That would be absurd given the flavor of the blueberry sauce. The smudge on the plate, however, that was delivered to us this way, and the delivery of the plate was the only bad service experience we had – more on that in a moment.

The wings were as good as always. The blueberry BBQ sauce is unique and flavorful, but what adds to this dish is the crispy texture of the wings. The two combined (sauce and texture) make this my favorite dish from the restaurant (the boys’ favorite as well).

Main(e) Dishes

We were at the restaurant for lunch. Between us we ordered Haddock Baked the LL Bean Way (a main course), fish tacos, and the Turkey Gobbler.

baked fish
Haddock Baked the LL Bean Way

The menu on the restaurant’s website describe this dish this way:

Linda shared her grandfather’s recipe, ver popular here. Baked succulently and simply over a moist onion bed. With LL’s camp potatoes and fresh Maine vegetables.

The dish’s presentation was okay – as was its flavor. In fact, my son noted that it actually lacked flavor. I tended to agree. The vegetables were not exceptionally crisp nor did they stand out in any way. In fact, they were a bit bland – like the fish.

hot turkey sandwich
Turkey Gobbler

The Turkey Gobbler is described on the menu this way:

Roasted turkey piled on homemade stuffing and hand-cut bread topped with pan gravy, Maine whipped potatoes and homemade cranberry sauce.

We all agreed the Turkey Gobbler was the best meal of the three (second to the wings). The turkey was moist, the potatoes were good, and so was the gravy.

fish tacos
Fish Tacos

I ordered the fish tacos, described this way on the menu:

Three flour tortillas with fried haddock, fresh salsa, pickled onion, lettuce and cilantro. Served with avocado-lime sauce, creamy chili pepper sauce, and chips.

I admit from the outset that I’m a fish taco fanatic. I’ve sampled countless fish tacos. The best fish tacos I’ve ever had were actually at Esposito restaurant in Montreal. Sorry, Linda. Your fish tacos do not compare.

While the fish tacos were not bad per se, for a restaurant claiming to be a specialist in seafood, the tacos were lacking. The fish was breaded too heavily and cooked a bit too long. I like my fish to flake apart in my mouth. These pieces of fish were too hard, tasting more like a fish nugget. I was disappointed.

The Service

The service we received was okay. Our waitress was friendly, but when our BBQ wings were served by kitchen staff, the plate was virtually tossed onto the table as the worker walked away. There were smudges on the plate (as seen in the pic), and we were not offered any extra napkins, plates, or wipes to eat the messy wings.

On top of this, it took too long for our waitress to come visit the table after the appetizer arrived to ask if we were set. Only when she did revisit us were we able to get anyone’s attention for more napkins and plates to share.

The Prices

We ordered two soft drinks, BBQ wings, turkey sandwich, baked haddock, and fish tacos. The bill was $83.16 before tip (2022 prices). I would have been fine with the price if the dishes were of higher quality, but given that, I would say the restaurant is slightly overpriced.


Tripadvisor readers give the restaurant an average of 3.5 stars out of 5. That sounds about right. There is nothing particularly bad about the restaurant, but there’s also nothing particularly outstanding about it either. When my wife and i first started visiting Linda Bean’s restaurant the first few years it was open we loved it. Now, not so much.

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