BRUNSWICK — Sometimes dinner out should be comfortable, and No. 10 Water handles that requirement with ease. The restaurant suggests a long presence and a habit of generous hospitality via features such as tables spread far apart, friendly service, a wood floor that looks old and worn, and a gas fireplace that will be warming up cold winter nights.

But although the neighboring Federal mansion was indeed built in 1819, the dining room, which harmonizes with the style of the main house, is inside a new wing that was completely rebuilt.

New owners John and Kim Verreault reopened the inn on May 3 after it had been closed for two years. The main water lines were turned on, possibly by vagrants or vandals while it was shut down, causing enormous damage and requiring a complete renovation, according to server Jenn Marsh. Today, with dark-blue walls and bright cream trim, the interior space is handsome, and the ambiance is tranquil and polished.

And let’s acknowledge that modern standards have a lot going for them — especially in wide-open kitchens. There can be no doubt the staff prefers the new kitchen, which is visible through an open-wide entryway.

On Thursday night, guests in the dining room, connected around either side of the hearth to a cocktail bar, enjoy the sound of live jazz.

The wine by the glass is modestly priced, with New Harbor Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, crisp and refreshing, at $8; Four Vines Zinfandel, with velvety dark fruit, at $7; and Vina St. Esteban Reserva, an Argentinian Malbec, at $6.

Chef Troy Mains, who worked at the Robinhood Free Meetinghouse for nine years and also at Fuel in Lewiston, uses local cheeses and vegetables from the farmers market.

My friend had the brilliant notion of trying the portobello fries ($8), luckily for us both. This big serving was a highlight of the meal, with thick sections of portobello mushrooms encased in tempura batter and fried to a shattering crisp.

The mushrooms held a wealth of good juice. I imagine perfecting the width and the cooking time must have been a challenge, but these fine mushrooms were a triumph.

Truffle herb aioli, a mayonnaise, showed restraint with the truffle oil — if that was what was used to flavor it. But the herbs — parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, summer savory and oregano, as our engaging server reported back from the kitchen — made the mayo taste good. Again, what might seem like overkill had been mixed up with care and conservatism, though the portion in a small bowl was huge.

Butternut squash soup ($6) was sweet, thick and dense, with chewy pumpkin seeds scattered on top and a touch of orange. Cumin and a little chili infused heat and savory aroma amid the sweetness.

Watermelon feta salad ($7) suffered from the late season or a supply problem — I hankered after more watermelon with sweeter juice and fewer hard, tasteless slices of tomato. But the little tangle of small-leaf arugula and the crumbs of feta managed to be quite tasty on their own. Little pickled red onions added delicious crunch.

Braised chicken ($12) with olives and herbs showed off the smarts behind the menu. This proved a great way to serve chicken and might even persuade folks that chicken is a good thing for dinner once it’s augmented with hot, salty black olives and tender onion.

A spoonful of grapefruit salad, while simply lovely in itself, didn’t quite coordinate with the other elements on the plate. Fingerling potatoes belonged there, and the shaved parmesan was, as it almost always is, completely welcome.

If I could go back, there is lobster hash ($24) waiting to be tasted, with leeks, corn, bacon and tarragon, among other items. The vegetable Wellington ($17) with grilled vegetables and cheddar wrapped up in puff pastry would be worth a taste just to learn if the chef could pull it off.

Lots of appealing meat — double pork chops, steak frites, braised short ribs — also compete for attention on the long list of entrees.

But I opted for another inexpensive dish, blackened haddock with fries. The fries were forgettable, and the tartar sauce not-so-great — I should have refused to part with the herb aioli — but the fish was moist and sweet under its spicy dry rub.

Another appealing part of the dish on the menu had been the fennel and cabbage slaw, but the flavor of fennel couldn’t be discerned in the perfectly acceptable slaw.

We went for the apple tart ($8) from the dessert list. This was the least successful dish, as the apples were undercooked along with the thin pastry, which might have emerged from a hot oven a few minutes later crisp and golden instead of pale and soft.

But the vanilla ice cream had everything going for it, and was creamy and fragrant with vanilla.


N.L. English is a Portland freelance writer and the author of “Chow Maine: The Best Restaurants, Cafes, Lobster Shacks and Markets on the Coast.” Visit English’s website,