May 20, 2013

Happy Hour at Outliers Eatery

Outliers Eatery sits quietly at the bottom of Brackett Street in Portland's West End, overlooking the Casco Bay Bridge. Apparently it's not very well known yet, but if you add that it used to be that bar with the plane tail sticking out of it, you might get some nods of recognition.

The small restaurant and bar are beautiful - I gather the place was extensively redone, because it looks new. The dining room has banquettes on one wall, and a few tables against a half wall that separate it from the bar area.

The porch overlooks a little park that then overlooks the harbor and the Casco Bay bridge. The restaurant began to fill while we were there, but was never packed. There was ample parking. Our server was friendly. We were smitten.

The mild weather Friday afternoon led us to the porch for happy hour, sampling some Maine beers (which were half price from 4-6pm) and some small plates. 

We started with the Rising Tide Maine Island Trail Ale, which is a great summer beer. If you can find it, you should drink it. The charcuterie plate ($12) was large, with sour pickles, mortadella, salami, prosciutto, sopressata, lavender chèvre, and pumpernickel bread. 

We also enjoyed the mussels ($11), which were plump and came with plenty of sour, crusty bread for mopping up the garlic and wine sauce. The sauce was reduced so it was full of flavor, something that was lacking in the last dish of mussels I tried at a shall-not-be-named new restaurant.

Then there's the bathrooms... you have heard about their bathrooms, right? The elegant decor of this place belies the fact that their men's room contains a tribute to Hunter S. Thompson. The Ralph Steadman prints might tip you off, but regardless of your gender, you've got to check it out. (It's a single, so you don't need to worry about it being occupied.)

The fixtures are black, the mirror is broken (intentionally), even the toilet paper is back. A case above the urinal contains a shrine to Thompson - green accountant visor, aviators, a map of Buenos Ares, Xanax...  and the pay phone plays recordings of Thompson's work when you pick it up.

In contrast, the ladies' room is done in luxe white and gold, with lotion dispensers and individual cloth towels to dry your hands on. I'm not entirely sure why the men get the fun, themed bathroom and the ladies don't, but whatever.

So despite the secret rock and roll theme, Outliers isn't necessarily your neighborhood bar (that's Ruski's, up the hill from here). The small plates and entrees are on the pricer end, which does not usually please a happy hour crowd. The beer selection and view from the porch, however, make for a great watering hole.

But I see this place as more of a 'date night out' kind of restaurant. The entrees we saw being carried through the dining room looked beautiful and made our mouths water. Whether you end up coming in for a full dinner or just stop by for nibbles and a local beer, check out Outliers and welcome them to the neighborhood.