Thunderclouds loom, but we manage to duck inside the revitalized Bates Mill #6 in Lewiston before the skies burst.

We settle in at Fish Bones American Grill for dinner; two of us in a reclaimed pew, two in wooden chairs across a broad table.

The attractive interior retains much of the historic mill’s infrastructure, with old brick-enclosed beams and refurbished large windows overlooking a canal that leads to the Androscoggin.

Because the roughly 80-seat restaurant is divided into three sections, the space feels inviting, not cavernous.

On the menu, we spy contemporary dishes as well as traditional items wearing up-to-date accessories. There’s something for many tastes.

This innovative but not-too-daring mix seems to be popular. On this sultry weekday evening in July, the place is two-thirds full, feeding young couples, summer visitors, shirt-sleeved professionals and a large group in the private dining room. Fish Bones seems like a very good port, storm or not.
Four of us order across the range of options.

Tea-smoked chicken comes as tender slices of cool, curled meat with only a faint flavor of smoke placed on Bibb lettuce, a spicy/sweet Asian-style sauce swirled on the plate ($9 appetizer). To give the dish some zing, wrap the components or create awkward forkfuls to swipe liberally in the sauce and taste at once. I would have preferred kitchen-assembled.

Three Maine crab croquettes – golf-ball-size spheres with beautifully crisped exteriors and a red pepper coulis drizzle – has barely discernible seafood inside. The ample mound of micro greens in a mint-cilantro yogurt gets most of our attention on this mixed-blessing appetizer plate ($7).

From the five flatbread options, we choose grilled vegetable with balsamic gastrique and roasted garlic. A thin, crispy crust with a whole grain character is topped with seasoned summer squash, zucchini, bell peppers and caramelized onions. Melted boursin adds a creamy and sharp note. The appetizer is a salutatory twist on pizza. We order the small size ($5; $9 for full), and it’s large enough to be a bargain.

One companion likes his entree so much, he calls it “memorable.” Indeed, scallops seared just right and served over a delicious red quinoa medley of roasted brussel sprout leaves, corn, onions and bell peppers is a colorful dish with nice texture and flavor contrasts. The light, nutty and chewy quinoa bubbles around tender gems of seafood ($26).

Cajun swordfish, moist and punchy and placed upon a decent risotto, was a less apt combination. The flavor-intense fish was at odds with the more subtle rice dish, despite the individual appeal of both ($25).

Traditionalists will like the enormous Delmonico steak, which is fatty and rich and served with al dente asparagus and roasted potatoes ($28).

The restaurant’s novel take on the informal fish and chips platter is a triple play of potatoes: a pancake (latke) that’s supposed to be crisp (but it’s bendable) placed on a mound of garlic mashed, with a homemade chip garnish.

It ends up as potato overkill, almost outsizing the grilled haddock filet, which is moist, well-seasoned and served with quartered mushrooms and baby spinach in a classic brown sauce. Some people will love this twist on the classic. I thought it a brown plate in search of an identity ($21).

Entrees come with a choice of New England clam chowder, soup du jour, garden salad or demi Caesar, which two of us order. One comes with cheese; the other is bereft of same, which means the kitchen could pay a little more attention to detail.

But that chowder is fabulous, chunky and rich, and seasoned with an herb we can’t place. We ask for the secret. It’s rosemary and lavender. Order this soup and swoon.

Service is friendly and attentive. Each time we order a different glass of wine, our waitress brings over the bottle and an empty glass to allow us to taste our choice before we commit, a touch that shows extra care.

Courses are well-timed, and served without fuss on substantial platters.

On this night, some dishes are very good. Others are so-so. If we shook the dice and ordered other appetizers and entrees, would we come up with the same rough proportion of excellent-to-eh? It’s hard to say.

But I found more than enough pleasure at Fish Bones to put it on my repeat list.

I envision sipping a single malt on a cushy sofa in the lounge, followed by an entree salad of Angus steak with Gorgonzola strips ($12 – not bad), or the Fra Diavolo, a spicy tomato sauce with lobster, mussels, scallops and fresh catch over angel hair pasta ($26).

These are among the items I missed the first time. And I’d have a recap of that clam chowder, for sure.

A chocolate ganache cake ($7) and a rhubarb crisp ($6) give us the requisite happy finish, sending us out to cleared skies full and content, if not quite transported above the clouds.

Nancy Heiser is a freelance writer who lives near Portland. Her work has appeared in national and regional publications.