Monday, May 20, 2013
By EMMA BOUTHILLETTE
"The nerves sit ceremonious, like tombs ..."
Daniel Liebowitz and Ariel Solaski of Vermont enjoy streetside dining at LFK, a literary hangout decorated with a number of old typewriters and books.
Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer
WHERE: 188 State St., Portland
HOURS: 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday to Friday; noon to 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
PARKING: On-street metered parking that's free after 6 p.m. and on Sundays
AMENITIES: Some typewriters and books for your writing and reading pleasure
HAPPY HOUR: 4 to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday or 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday to Tuesday, with $1 tap beers and wine
SCENE: At LFK -- short for Longfellow Fellowship of Knights -- you won't find sports games on televisions, but rather an assortment of books for reading and large tables for groups of friends (or even strangers) to sit together, drink, eat and be merry.
From where I sat at LFK's arched bar, that was all I could read of the typewriter keys along the bar's length that spell out an Emily Dickinson poem. Rather than disrupt others sipping drinks at the bar on a recent night, I read the rest of the poem printed full-length on the back of the food menu.
That poem is just one of the many things you'll find at LFK that aptly pays homage to literary types. Short for Longfellow Fellowship of Knights, LFK overlooks Portland's Longfellow Square and the statue of Henry himself. You'll spot a number of typewriters -- some functional, others for decoration -- around the bar once you enter. And it's hard to miss books stacked on shelves for your reading pleasure.
When I walked into LFK, I thought it was like a bar meeting a coffee house. Instead of a television hung over the taps for the sports enthusiast, there were rather large tables at which patrons could gather and share discourse. And the tall stools along the length of the bar were cozy. It seemed more fitting to grab a drink and read a book than to cheer on your favorite football team.
When I stopped in, there had been a "tap takeover" by Victory. Another such takeover is scheduled for Oct. 10, which will feature beers from Sixpoint Brewing. Normally, the bar has about a dozen brews on tap, and more offerings in cans and bottles. There is also a list of red and white wines, but I'd recommend taking a peek at the eclectic drink menu.
I'm sure that if you'd ask for a Cosmo, the bartenders at LFK could make one. However, the drink menu features unique mixes for $9 apiece with names such as "The Introduction," which is a mix of Tangueray, Aperol, lemon and bitters served straight up.
I was going to try the bar's namesake drink -- a bourbon mix with Old Granddad, orange and apple juices, and ginger beer -- but wasn't sure I'd like it.
Instead, I opted for "L-Squared," made with Maine Mead Works Lavender Mead, lemonade and a splash of soda. It was hands-down one of the most refreshing drinks I've had, and was perfect for the warm late-summer's eve.
Thanks to a Living Social deal I bought earlier this summer, I had some more money to spend at LFK. Another drink would have been tempting, but I wanted to be able to get home safely so I ordered some dinner.
As unique as the drink menu is, so are LFK's food offerings. Most dishes cost $9 or less, and are yummy combinations that can make your mouth water. One that caught my eye was the "Ham & Brie." It was a hearty sandwich of ham and Brie cheese served on a baguette with a side of potato salad and a pickle.
I'll be honest and say the thick slices of ham served in this beastly sandwich surprised me. At the same time, I was disappointed that the sandwich itself wasn't grilled or warmed somehow. When I ordered it, I was expecting a fancy take on a grilled cheese, and it turned out to be a fancy cold ham and cheese sandwich -- still delicious, just not what I thought when I ordered it.
All in all, though, I thought LFK was a funky little addition to Portland's bar scene, and one I'll add to my roster of drinking places.
Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.