Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Lately I’ve been hearing rumors about the goings on at Outliers Eatery, that gorgeous roadhouse at the summit of York Ave, which opened last spring to great acclaim. It won an AIA award for interior design excellence; and the restaurant’s chef, Jonathan Dexter, formerly of Street & Co. has wowed diners with his meticulously prepared food using the best of locally available ingredients.
Outliers aglow at night
The rumor mill had it closing because of lack of patronage. All of this is untrue. The restaurant is taking a winter break from mid-February to mid-March. In fact, Dexter’s contract with management entitles him to a two-week vacation during the winter months.
I haven’t been there for a long while, and I went earlier this week to see for myself how this fine establishment was doing.
On a Wednesday night the room and bar were packed—no lack of patronage that evening. According to Megan, the long-time bartender, the place is continually busy, especially on weekends and brunch. The bar is a stunner with its patina of rippled copper covering the wall, making this one of the most striking spaces in town. The banquettes in the bar room are a favorite spot of mine, too, easy to slip into for an intime spot to enjoy a fine meal.
The stunning Outliers bar
The bar is well stocked with spirits from local and international distilleries; the wine list is excellent, too
I started off with a vodka on the rocks accompanied by John’s River oysters (so sweet yet briny) served with cocktail sauce and freshly grated horseradish. But I like my oysters unadorned. Once I finished them off, the sauce with its spike of horseradish was good enough to have on its own, which I did.
John's River oysters
The bread served at Outlier’s is made there, and that evening they were featuring their little onion rolls served with garlic-dill butter. The bread and butter were so good I asked for a second helping. These are great rolls.
House-made onions rolls served with garlic-dill butter
That evening the menu was heavy with fish entrees, including trout and haddock. I chose to start with an appetizer of steelhead trout belly served with bok choy and topped with warmed mustard seeds. It was a stunning Asian-influenced dish that was inspired and sophisticated. I was tempted by another first course, one which I had had before—fried pig’s ears. I was nonetheless pleased with the trout.
Steelhead trout belly, a delicious first course
The couple sitting next to me were just served their entrees, a great looking dish of haddock, which I also chose as my main course. It was pan-seared and served with a bracing lemon and caper butter sauce that superbly complemented the moistness of the fish. With it was an exceedingly smooth puree of potatoes and sautéed kale. For wine, a glass of the Savary Chablis 2010, very crisp yet buttery, went down very well with the food.
Seared haddock in lemon-caper butter sauce with potato puree and kale
Interestingly, the selection of wines by the glass is a short list indeed. I noticed the Chablis on the roster of full bottles, and they were happy to open it to serve by the glass. It shows. Just ask!
The dessert options were tempting--several bread puddings, panna cotta and the like. But ultimately I passed in deference to eating lighter these days (not easily done, however).
The dining room is still a spectacular space
What impressed me so about the dinner there was the kitchen’s ability to serve a very approachable menu of highly provocative American bistro fare. Flavors were clear and bright, the cooking was meticulous; even the gorgeous pottery serving plates are unique and stylish. What’s more the dining room is luxuriously inviting.
If Outlier’s has gotten off your dining radar, it’s worth putting back on the list.
It’s better than ever!
John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.
In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.