November 15, 2012

Bar Guide: Spread opens the door to new possibilities

The new bar on Commercial Street offers an upscale setting and tasty cocktail and food choices.


If you're like most people, you're a creature of habit. A creature who tends to gravitate toward the same bar like she would gravitate toward a comfy old hooded sweatshirt. And sometimes, that same bar is even the kind of place you feel comfortable going to in the aforementioned sweatshirt.

click image to enlarge

Spread, on Commercial Street in Portland, challenges patrons to shake up their usual routine. Fuji chef and Korean artist John Hur opened the upscale bar and lounge earlier this year.

Derek Davis/Staff Photographer


WHERE: 100 Commercial St., Portland

PHONE: 828-8233


HOURS: Bar menu served 4 to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday; dining hours are 5 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; brunch is served 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

PARKING: On-street metered parking, which is free after 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, all day Sunday and holidays

SCENE: A swank new place with bar and lounge space for a fancier night out in Portland.

But sometimes you need a change of pace.

A new bar on Commercial Street is just the kind of pace-changer Portland's bar scene could use. Spread was opened earlier this year by no stranger to the Portland bar and restaurant scene, Fuji chef and Korean artist John Hur.

On walking into Spread, I feel like it's modern art gallery meets bar. A cluster of ribbons hangs from a rod in the window by the hostess station, and lounge furniture greets you inside. The bar makes an arc in the center of the room with all the top-shelf liquor displayed in the center. Clean lines in the bar's decor give it the modern feel and keep the place looking shiny and new.

Unable to swing by Spread to catch a glimpse of the bar in action during the evening, I grabbed my friend Ashley for a late brunch on a recent Sunday to check out the place.

The brunch drink menu was nothing short of spectacular. All the cocktails were priced at $7, and even standard drinks had a special twist. Mimosas are made with fresh squeezed orange juice, and the bar uses Stoli Jalapeno Infused Vodka and a homemade mix for the Bloody Mary. And, maybe you could try Second Marriage – Double Cross Vodka, Aperol and fresh grapefruit juice – if your Saturday night shenanigans would leave you questioning your love life.

Mimosas are more my pace, but Ashley opted for the Bloody Mary. Be warned, this drink is not for the faint of heart. It's got a spicy kick to it that will kill any hangover you might have and leave you ready for brunch.

Spread's food menu is no less creative than its beverages. Ashley ordered the goat cheese and mushroom potato cake topped with two poached eggs and served with home fries. I, on the other hand, had to see what the breakfast taco was all about. It was a yummy twist, served on two opened-faced taco shells with black beans, egg whites (by my request), sour cream and freshly roasted veggies.

If you hit up Spread in the evening, expect to pay a bit more for your cocktails. Drinks on the menu range from $9 to $11. The menu features classics, like a Sidecar, as well as innovative beverages. The Root Beer Flip made with Meyer's Dark Rum and 8 Bells Ingenium Spiced Rum with pineapple and Captain Elis Root Beer, plus egg white, caught my eye. The seasonal cocktail called Snow White's Poison made with Calvados, freshly pressed apple juice, sparkling cider, ginger syrup and lemon juice and topped with apple-coconut foam left me drooling.

But folks, don't worry. If you're stepping out for an upscale night, and still want a good, cold beer and a television to stare at, Spread has that too. There are eight beers on tap plus another eight offered by the bottle. You can also select from an extensive list of white and red wines, by the glass or bottle.

So don't let the doldrums of fall and winter get the best of you. Shake off that old sweatshirt, dust the cobwebs off your fancy clothes and get down to Spread.

Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.


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