Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By EMMA BOUTHILLETTE
It's a sad fact that I often don't think about Dogfish Bar & Grille when planning to go out with friends or directing people to a great spot to drink and dine in Portland. It's sad, because the service, drink and food have always been fabulous every time I go.
Portlanders Jonathan LeBlanc and Emily Veilleux are served Washington Apple Shots by bartender Megan Hughes at the Dogfish Bar & Grille on Free Street in Portland.
Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
DOGFISH BAR & GRILLE
WHERE: 128 Free St., Portland
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday; 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
PARKING: On-street metered parking that's free after 6 p.m. or on Sundays
AMENITIES: A couple of televisions and two decks for outdoor seating
SPECIALS: $3 drafts from 4 p.m. to close, a rotating tap and live jazz on Fridays
SCENE: Small, casual and cozy, the Dogfish Bar & Grille is like a neighborhood bar in the center of downtown. It's great for a happy hour drink after work or a place to kick off your night on the town.
When I recently dropped in for a quick lunch and drink, I started to sit at one stool when the bartender chimed in.
"There's more comfortable seats on this side," she said. As I moved around the bar, she pointed to one chair and added, "This is the best one in the house."
So I took her advice and grabbed it.
She handed me the drink menu, which amused me with fun cocktail names like "The Doggie Fizzle" and "Blushing Lady," costing between $6 and $8. Ultimately, I chose the "Scruffy Lou." It's the bar's take on a Salty Dog with Three Olives Pomegranate Vodka, grapefruit juice and a splash of Sprite. It came served in a highball glass, a pale shade of pink, for $7.50.
If you're hoping for a good beer at Dogfish Bar & Grille, you're in luck. The bar has about a dozen beers on tap, with some standard brews and some that vary day to day, week to week. Priced between $4 and $5, it's a good deal, but even better is grabbing a beer on days when they offer $3 draft specials after 4 p.m.
To accompany my drink, I ordered the herb and walnut goat cheese salad. It was a fresh bed of mixed greens topped with a patty of goat cheese rolled in herbs and walnuts, complete with candied walnuts, dried cranberries, fresh blueberries and raspberry vinaigrette. It was a delicious salad that reminded me of my travels in France, where I ordered salads wherever I went with warm goat cheese on slices of baguettes.
Although I was trying to keep my lunch kind of light and healthy, the bar offers a great menu. I've enjoyed everything I've ordered there.
If you're meeting up with friends, just be sure to specify "the Dogfish on Free Street." Dogfish Bar & Grille is part of the Dogfish Co. established in Portland in 1995. Before opening the bar on Free Street, the owner opened the Dogfish Cafe on Congress Street.
Although I've never eaten at the cafe, I'm told the food there is equally as tasty.
The two Dogfish establishments could potentially be a cause for confusion if you don't specify which street you're heading to.
In addition to live jazz every Friday night, the bar is host to a ton of local live music, with a varying schedule week to week. A list of upcoming entertainment can be found on the company's website.
While I was there, music over speakers played loud enough so you could hear the music, but not so loud that you would struggle to have a conversation. I can't say I recognized any of the artists or songs, but it was a great mix they were playing as I sipped my cocktail and ate my salad.
And the bartender was right, too: I had the most comfortable bar seat in the house.
Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.