A funky new restaurant has opened on Congress Street in Portland, where the food is good and it does a really cool thing — it promotes local music.

Lots of venues in the area promote local music very well, but this place, Mike’s (owned by Guitar Grave proprietor Mike Fink), does it through food. Menu items are named after, for the most part, local musicians, bands and music personalities.

Opened this month, Mike’s is a small restaurant. The front room houses a few stools, where you can eat looking at Congress Street out the front window, beverage coolers and the kitchen. The back room has tables for seating. There are band posters and other art work celebrating rock ‘n’ roll decorating the restaurant’s two rooms.

I met a friend for lunch at Mike’s in the middle of the week. It was not very busy, but steady, when we arrived during the noon hour. The menu is on the wall behind the kitchen.

We ordered and sat in the dining area in the back, where a TV was running clips of music performances from the 1960s. We only had to wait about five minutes or so before our orders were delivered to our table.

We both commented on how good the food was. My friend ordered a make-your-own wrap ($6 to $6.50), and I ordered the Johnny Cremains-adilla — a quesadilla with barbecue pulled pork and coleslaw — for $4.

Reading the menu is where you see the humorous genius of Mike’s — and, in most cases, you don’t even have to be familiar with the bands the items are named after to get the joke.

For instance, made-to-order wraps are listed under “Freestyle wrapping” on the menu. There’s a salad called the Jerks of Grass ($4.50 and $7), a sloppy joe called the Manwitch ($5), an egg salad sandwich called the Eggbot ($4), a grilled peanut butter-and-banana sandwich called the Elvis ($3) and a peanut butter-and-honey sandwich called Covered in Bees ($3.50).

I just had to chuckle when I saw the Curdo chicken with a “K” — a chicken salad sandwich with a ginger ale for $8.25 — paying homage to WCYY’s (94.3 FM) radio host Mark “With a K” Curdo.

Other menu items include hot dogs (red or classic) for $2 (or two for $3); chili (called the Sli Chi-li for the funk band Sly-Chi) for $3.50 and $5.50; french bread pizza for $4 and $6.25; a root beer or Moxie float (called the Pigboat float) for $4.50; and an appetizer of spinach dip and tortilla chips for $4.50 called the Side Car Radio.

A breakfast menu is in the works. 

The Features staff of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram anonymously samples meals for about $7.


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