August 31, 2011

Bar Guide: Maine Street Grill spices up beer-burger combo


A good friend once told me that a burger and a beer was the perfect formula for happiness.

click image to enlarge

Shift leader Robin Gallant, left, and bartender Elizabeth Smith with raw materials at Maine Street Grill in Standish

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


WHERE: 1 Ossipee Trail East, Standish; 648-7211

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

PARKING: Park in the lot in front or on the side of the restaurant.

SCENE: Locals and folks just driving through looking for a casual place to meet up, grab a drink, watch the game and catch up with friends.

AMENITIES: Multiple flatscreen TVs showing different games, plenty of room options to choose from, and ghost stories upon request.

I can support that.

But here's the catch -- finding a great burger-beer combo is not as easy as one may think. There are many factors at play that can contribute to either a great or a less than awesome burger experience. Such factors may include (but should not be limited to) beer selection, burger preparation and delivery, atmosphere and, of course, service. In short, it can get complicated.

I decided to test the "burger plus beer equals happiness" theory the other night at the Maine Street Grill in Standish. Rumor has it it's the only sit-down restaurant in Standish, and its prominent placement at the corner of routes 25 and 35 in a big old white house (locally known as the Thomson House) makes it an easy go-to for local folks in the market for a place to hang out and grab a casual meal.

Upon my arrival, and after making my way up a flight of stairs to the second-floor bar, I quickly learned that I wasn't alone in my theory-testing endeavors. Apparently, the secret is out, and the Maine Street Grill is the place to go for a burger and a beer.

The Grill was conceived to fill a gap in the Standish dining scene -- or to become the Standish dining scene. As the proprietor of the area's only restaurant and bar, owner-bartender Dan Roberts decided that it was a good investment. Taking full advantage of the sizable old house, Roberts created a multilevel dining experience, with the main dining room on the first floor (along with outside seating on the front porch), and the bar, lounge and wine room on the second floor.

But the bar is where I was headed. That's where I fell into easy conversation with Roberts, learned about the friendly resident restaurant ghosts (yup, it's haunted), and fulfilled my burger-beer requirements.

The bar itself is an extensive, highly polished wooden bar seated snugly in a long red room. You can sit directly at the bar in one of the many high-backed swivel chairs or choose a bar table. Either way, you'll order your food and drink from the bartender, who efficiently holds down the room. Through a large open doorway is the "Man Cave," which houses two oversized leather couches and an equally oversized flatscreen TV. Walk across the hallway and you'll find the wine room, furnished similarly to the Man Cave, minus the flatscreen.

Aiming to please the masses, the Maine Street Grill isn't out to win a James Beard award or take over the foodie blogosphere. It's simply going for providing a simple, comfortable atmosphere with equally cozy food.

At the bar, you'll find on-tap selections of a couple local brews (Shipyard Export and Pumpkin Head) and a few stalwart favorites (Bud Light, Coors and Guinness), as well as a full battery of bottled beers and any cocktail you'd like -- served old-school style in Ball mason jars. The menu lists basic, yet tastefully done, fare including the burger (of course), nachos, steak, a vegetarian special that isn't an afterthought, and pizza (which can be ordered with a gluten-free crust. Hurray!).

If you're lucky, you'll also find Roberts behind the bar. He'll not only indulge you with the campy history of the old haunted house, but also entertain you with his sharp wit and sincere interest in who you are, what your story is and whether you're enjoying your visit to the Grill.

Johanna Sorrell is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.


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