I am, admittedly, a sucker for beer. Not just any beer, but good beer.
So when an artist I wanted to interview suggested we meet at the Run of the Mill Public House and Brewery in Saco, it didn’t take me long to say yes.
We gathered on a spring-like Friday afternoon for a late lunch. Had it been just a few degrees warmer, we might have braved the chilly air and sat outside. But, alas, she had her 4-year-old with her, so we settled on a table inside for a beer, lunch and long conversation about painting, living and working in Maine.
The Run of the Mill is not exactly an undiscovered place. In fact, we had to wait a good 15 minutes for a table. But I sometimes think people from Portland never give this place a second thought, despite its excellent reputation for food, beer and superlatively attentive service.
We had a rather large lunch, and my guest opted for a seven-beer sampler, which included small sample-size glasses of everything on tap that day with the exception of a guest tap. Otherwise, all the beers were the product of the Run of the Mill.
I’m not here to critique the beer, though I consider beer an area of expertise. But we have a beer columnist on staff, and I hate to step on his toes. And as this was a working lunch, I was not in a position to do more than taste one or two of her samples. OK, three.
As for the food, I rate the kitchen at the Run of the Mill a solid “B” – and had I quaffed a pint or two, I might more generously give an “A” grade. I liked our lunch very much, but didn’t love everything.
We started with an appetizer of traditional buffalo-style chicken tenders ($7.75) with a bleu cheese dipping sauce. These were the highlights of the meal. The tenders were moist and juicy, and the sauce had a hint of sweetness to it but not a lot of heat. These weren’t burn-your-mouth hot, which I appreciated. We both loved them, and had no trouble sharing the full platter.
For my main plate, I ordered the Indian Island Chicken Sandwich ($8.50), a grilled chicken breast topped with smoked bacon and cheddar on a kaiser roll. Nothing about it turned me off, but nothing about made me think, “Wow. This is great.” It was solidly good, and just what I expected. The best part may have been the crisp bacon.
My artist friend opted for the blackened bleu chicken wrap (also $8.50) consisting of diced Cajun spiced chicken breast, bleu cheese crumbles, tomatoes and greens, tossed in bleu cheese dressing and wrapped in a sun-dried tomato tortilla.
She liked it very much, but didn’t rave about it. It was good. Nothing to complain about. She ate half, and took the other half home.
For our sides, she had a beer cheese soup that we both felt should have been creamier. It tasted nice, but had an odd, off-putting consistency. I had the garlic mashed potatoes, which were very good but not very garlicky.
But here’s the thing: We were there well over an hour, and we had a great time. We loved the atmosphere, and the service was outstanding.
The overall experience left nothing to be desired, except this: The food lacked adventure. Then again, we didn’t take any chances with the menu, either. We had chicken, and lots of it.
Maybe another beer or two would have done us some good.
The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $10.