I have been hearing great things about District since it opened in the up-and-coming Studio District between the West End and Portland’s Old Port last November.

Mostly I’ve heard that they include a bacon or low-on-the-hog pork product in many of their dishes, have an amazing wine and beer selection, and kept tummies happy with delicious bourbon.

Unassuming from the outside, District sits twinkling — with its white strands of exterior lights — at the corner of Danforth and Maple streets, barely two blocks from the five-point intersection of Center and Fore streets. Once you step inside, it’s like you are transported to the plush ambience of a club from the same Gatsby-esque era as the brick buildings surrounding it.

Inside, slate walls with brown, beige and black accents at first seem like they should be overwhelming and dark. Yet the strategic placement of lighting and cathedral ceilings open the space and contribute to an air of elegance. Along the wall behind the long bar — about 15 padded and comfortable bar stools — the liquors are stocked in wooden boxed shelves, mixed with sparkling glassware to add reflection and brightness to the area.

At the far left is a beautiful dark wine armoire filled with District’s extensive wine selection. There are a few tables around the downstairs bar area for groups to gather, and an overstuffed black leather sofa with a low table by the fireplace to curl up with a warm drink and appetizer. Upstairs, a full dining area provides a quieter atmosphere for conversation and lunch or dinner.

District has you covered whether you are a beer, wine or liquor drinker. There are 10 beers on draught, including Guinness, Shipyard, Allagash, Anchor, Longtrail and Geary’s.

I ordered a Scrimshaw Pilsner ($5), which I had never tried before. Quick to enhance my experience, bartender Jess offered me a taste to see if I would like it.

The draught beers range in price from $4 to $5. District also offers about a dozen more beers by the bottle and can. Ranging from PBR cans ($2.75) to an Allagash Black ($12), they also offer the new Maine Beer Co. Peeper ($9) alongside the regular domestic offerings like Budweiser, Bud Light, Corona, Heineken and Bass.

From the wine selection of more than 85 bottles, there is an even assortment of reds and whites to choose from. About 20 wines are offered by the glass, ranging from $7 to $11. The rest can be ordered by the bottle. Most bottles are in the $25 to $60 range, but there are some big hitters upwards of $100 to $350. Additionally, for those looking to celebrate with just a glass of bubbly, you can order the sparkling Prosecco ($8) like the adorable couple next to me at the bar.

District offers a fully stocked bar complete with a great selection of bourbons. The popular Danforth ($5.50) is a simple pint of Budweiser with a shot of Evan Williams. Many mixed-drink requests also feature the restaurant’s house-infused liquors, such as pomegranate gin and kumquat with toasted cinnamon bourbon. Many of the house-infused drink specials sell for around $7. A new Sunday brunch fusion includes a carrot, celery and fresh horseradish vodka, perfect for your Bloody Mary ($6).

While quickly gaining notoriety for its amazing entree selections, District also offers a great sampling of appetizers, raw bar and charcuterie. (For those unfamiliar, charcuterie dining is characterized by prepared meat products such as bacon, ham or sausages.) District emulsifies many of its own meat products, such as roasted bone marrow ($7) and buffalo chicken livers ($7). The charcuterie plate (featuring selections such as suckling pig prosciutto, goat cheese and spicy lamb sausage for $7 to $13) is a perfect way to taste a little of everything the kitchen has to offer.

Those who are not looking for a meaty manifesto can have vegetarian options such as the ricotta and golden raisin bruschetta ($7) and roasted beet salad ($7). I had the salad, and have finally been served a salad in which I sent some of the goat cheese back on the plate because there was so much!

If you are looking for a sophisticated place to take a date or meet up with business associates with delicious hand-cured meat dishes and an abundant choice of beers, wines and drinks, make sure to add District to your favorite spots in Portland.

I certainly have.

Elisa Doucette is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.


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