For months, I’d heard that Bernie’s Place in West Falmouth, open since 2008, was under new management.
The restaurant was sold to new owners in October, and the old Bernie’s moved to another part of Falmouth and became Bernie’s Foreside.
The rumor was that the new owners were Simone and Philip Ryle, the folks who used to own Dante’s in One City Center. Everyone here is familiar with Dante’s because it is — was — located in the food court of the building that houses the Press Herald.
I heard through the grapevine that the Ryles planned to give Bernie’s a makeover into an Irish pub-style place, and that the new name of the place would be Madden’s.
All of this was interesting to me, because I had visited the old Bernie’s a couple of years ago and was not overly impressed, especially when I discovered that my silverware was dirty. The food was just OK.
I don’t remember what the service was like, but it was a persistent gripe among online foodies — the service was much too slow, they posted on websites including Yelp and Urban Spoon.
One of my colleagues visited a couple of years ago and gave the restaurant a decent review, though, so maybe it had improved since my last visit.
Now I was eager to try it under new management. I was surprised to find when I pulled up to the place that the old Bernie’s sign was still outside, and nothing much seemed to have changed on the surface. The menu was the same, but there were cards on the table touting the new name: Madden’s Pub & Grill.
I’ve since learned that I visited a touch too early. In a recent email, the new owners say the name change and the debut of a new menu will take place in a little more than a week.
Still, I thought it would be interesting to see how new management might have affected the food and service. I went for breakfast, and the old breakfast menu is filled with omelets ($7.99 to $9.29), breakfast wraps ($5.50 to $6.25), eggs Benedict ($8.65 to $9.25 and now served only on weekends, my server informed me) and favorites such as buttermilk pancakes and French toast ($5.75).
The wraps include choices such as a Southwestern Wrap, a Breakfast Burrito Scramble that includes bacon, ham or sausage, and a quesadilla. Omelet choices include Greek, Spanish, Western, Meat Lovers and “Healthy Eggs” made with egg whites, veggies, dry toast and a side of fruit.
I ordered one of the $7.99 specials: An omelet filled with homemade corned beef hash and American cheese. I don’t normally eat American cheese, but because it’s rumored that the restaurant may soon have an Irish flair, I thought it might have some great corned beef hash.
The hash was good, but I’ve had fluffier eggs at some of Portland’s other casual restaurants for about the same price. (Omelets are now pushing the $10 mark in some Portland restaurants. Why?) As diner-style food goes, though, the plate as a whole was just fine.
The eggs came with two slices of toast cut into four pieces and “home fries” that were more like a small potato sliced into five thick chunks.
The service, by the way, was stellar. My server was friendly (but not overly so), fast and efficient. She struck just the right balance between attentiveness and not being too intrusive.
It will be interesting to see how the atmosphere at Bernie’s — excuse me, Madden’s — changes after the makeover. Right now, you can sit at your booth or table and eavesdrop on customers asking when the blueberry muffins are coming out of the oven. There are people with thick Maine accents chatting at the bar, even at an early hour, over their morning coffee. The restaurant has several flat-screen TVs.
Personally, I like the neighborhood feel of the place, and because the restaurant is located in my general neighborhood area, I’ll be back. I’m really looking forward to seeing what kind of changes are being made to the menu, and may just have to break our rule of not revisiting a spot too soon after the last review.
Oh, and that former Dante’s space in One City Center? Hey, Portland restaurateurs, it’s still open, and has a building full of ready-made customers just waiting for you.
The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $10.