Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Claire Jeffers
South Portland’s Snow Squall restaurant and bar may not have a pool room like the popular TV series “Cheers,” but if you’re from that side of Casco Bay and frequent this cozy, cool eatery, chances are everyone will know your name.
A second bar was recently added at the Snow Squall in an adjoining room, creating more seating and a better atmosphere.
Claire Jeffers photos
The Peartini, one of the Snow Squall’s inventive seasonal cocktails, is fresh and tart for $9.
WHERE: 18 Ocean St., South Portland
HOURS: Wednesday to Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. lunch and dinner; Sunday brunch 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., 1 to 9 p.m. lunch and dinner. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
SPECIALS: Happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday to Friday; Adam Waxman performs live every Friday night.
AMENITIES: Two bars, comfortable lounge area with a real fireplace, free parking, and live music every Friday night.
PARKING: Parking lot
BOTTOM LINE: The Snow Squall is a quick drive from Portland and also accessible by bike lanes and bus routes. There aren’t views from Casco Bay, but the warm and friendly scene inside will make up for it. A popular watering hole for South Portland residents, the Snow Squall keeps people coming back with a locally sourced menu, inventive drinks and a casual atmosphere that’s good for large groups or a quiet meal for two.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes
Consistency makes a neighborhood joint stand out from the rest and the Snow Squall, with reliable hours, service, and atmosphere, keeps the place full Wednesday through Sunday.
The condominiums that surround the restaurant also don’t hurt – many of the residents are repeat visitors of the Snow Squall and with a later than usual happy hour (5 to 7 p.m. instead of 4 to 6), it’s easy for locals to stop in after work and stay for a discounted drink ($3 drafts, $4 house wines, $5 well drinks) and an appetizer for under $10.
The Snow Squall’s success is owed to Heather LaRou and her dedicated staff. LaRou was owner and manager of the Porthole for 10 years and is now in her fifth year at the Snow Squall.
“The first year and a half was tough,” LaRou said, “but since then, all has been really, really positive. We have an incredible customer base. Our clientele enjoys live music. They like to have a drink or two and do it responsibly.”
LaRou is also grateful to her staff, most of whom have been with her since the beginning. Front of house manager Colleen Foley has created a funky and fresh drink menu that could easily stand up to some of Portland’s mightiest cocktail offerings.
The ginger pear martini, $10, is bright and smooth – a perfect cocktail for the winter season. The jalapeno hot and dirty, also $10, is a mean drink made with house infused jalapeno vodka chilled with olive juice and served with jalapeno stuffed olives.
However, the Meow Meow Kitty Saketini for $12 fell flat for the price, despite its amusing name. Made with Hyorie sake and blended with Hana Awaka sparkling sake, it’s served chilled with a fresh slice of cucumber.
Every Friday night, Adam Waxman will be crooning live in the lounge during happy hour. A crowd favorite in Maine over the years, Waxman has won the hearts of the Snow Squall’s regulars with his soulful tunes and kind smile.
LaRou and her staff said goodbye to 2013 with a holiday party and are eager to see what the next five years bring. “We’re all just really excited to be here,” she said. “Everyone has watched and seen it grow and they get it. It’s part of them.”
Claire Jeffers is a freelance writer from Portland.
click image to enlarge
The Meow Meow Kitty Saketini, $12, is made with Hyorie sake blended with hana awaka and served chilled with a fresh slice of cucumber.