Saturday, March 8, 2014
From staff reports
Wow. I just ate the best chicken sandwich of my life.
Server Michelle Blandina delivers a beer and a Chicken Stacker at Gritty McDuff’s Portland location on Fore Street.
John Ewing/Staff Photographer
GRITTY McDUFF'S BREW PUB
WHERE: 396 Fore St., Portland; 772-2793, grittys.com
HOURS: 11 a.m. to closing, seven days a week
CHEAPEST GRUB: $4.99 for a cup of soup, chowder or chili of the day
WAIT: 10 minutes
PARKING: On street
HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: Yes
Based on a five-star scale
Just had to say that right out of the gate while my taste buds are still high-fiving each other in the post-lunch afterglow. Now, where was I? Ah yes, lunch. Since I never seem to remember my carrot and celery sticks to snack on, come lunchtime, I'm typically ravenous and will knock you down should you try and block my access to food.
That said, I did have a lovely stroll through the Old Port passing a fiddler, a guitar/vocal duo, foreign-tongued tourists and the usual suspects of lunchtime errand runners and lunch grabbers. Plus, the walk to Gritty McDuff's Brew Pub was a downhill one, and because I'm lazy, that suited me just fine.
I found myself in the hunger "danger zone" last Tuesday and decided that Gritty's just might be the remedy. Clutching my menu like a sacred tablet, I paused at the Steak & Greens Salad -- garlic and lime marinated Black Angus steak, pickled onions and cheddar-jack set on a bed of spinach and romaine tossed in chipotle dressing ($9.99 half; $13.99 full).
Then my eyes darted over to a section called "The Maine Course," which such temptations as Shepherd's Pie ($9.99) and Fish & Chips ($9.99). While both are right up my alley, I finally landed in the sandwiches section, where I proceeded to make three terrific decisions in a row.
First, I ordered the Chicken Stacker ($9.99). This was my first brilliant decision.
You can get it ale battered or barley coated, and it's served on grilled roasted garlic bread with smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese and honey mustard.
I went with ale battered, which was good decision No. 2.
All sandwiches come with a choice of french fries, Gritty chips, cole slaw or vegetable of the day.
For an extra $1.50, you can upgrade to sweet potato fries, sweet potato tots or a demi-salad.
When it comes to french fries, I'm on automatic pilot. Yet some unknown force tapped me on my shoulder and whispered, "Get the Gritty chips." I wasn't even sure what a Gritty chip was. But I got them.
This was, of course, good decision No. 3.
Minutes later, I was back at my desk, takeout container in hand. I cracked open a can of seltzer (though a pint of any number of the Gritty's Real Ales would have hit the spot), opened the box and knew it was beginning of a beautiful, albeit brief, relationship.
The Gritty chips were handmade, thick-cut potato chips from another galaxy. They somehow managed to be both crispy yet soft, and I ate one after another in a blissful fog of potato enchantment. Even if the Chicken Stacker had been so-so, the Gritty Chips had me at hello.
But let's go back to my opening sentence because, yes, it was the best chicken sandwich of my life.
I never knew the meaning of the word "succulent" until I bit into this thing. Encased in the ale batter, the chicken was melt-in-your-mouth moist and bursting with flavor. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open while eating it.
The Gritty Chips and the Chicken Stacker sandwich are now two of my favorite things, and you better believe my mouth was alive with the taste of them both.
The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $7.