July 11, 2013

First Look at Portland & Rochester Public House

The Portland & Rochester Public House opened quietly tonight, down in Bayside across the street from Bayside Bowl. The friendly bar manager who chatted with me indicated they hope to be well positioned when the neighborhood fills out with some significant real estate projects that are in the works.

I was just excited to have a restaurant back in the space that used to house G&R Dimillo's. While I never wrote about it here (it wasn't really note worthy), I loved the little Italian-esque, family restaurant/sports bar that was. 

The place has had a facelift, mostly some changes that make the bar area flow better and the restaurant space more warm and welcoming, rather than cavernous like before. Dark hardwoods and recycled materials set the mood, with a beautiful stained concrete floor that resembles ceramics glaze. The large windows overlooking Preble St. have had the frosting removed, brightening up the dining space significantly. 

Professor A. and I sat at the bar, where he ordered a "beet.nik" cocktail of yellow beet infused vodka, beet puree, ginger simple syrup, and lemon. At first it tasted like, well, beet vodka, but the bartender was very amenable to our suggestion to add more ginger syrup to create a more balanced drink. 

I ordered off the selection of mostly local draught beers, starting with a Scrimshaw Pilsner and next a Rising Tide Daymark Pale Ale

We ordered mussels ($11), Scotch eggs ($11.5), and pretzels ($7), but were also tempted by a flatbread pizza with pork belly and smoked mozz, a burrata salad, and a charcuterie plate. 

The mussels were surprising, in that they were 'dry' or not served over that lovely wine, garlic sauce that is so right for sopping. But rather these were smoked and served with a garlic herb cream sauce. I enjoyed the different albiet unexpected preparation. 

I've never seen Scotch eggs offered in Portland, and again they were different than I was expecting. A small quail egg was wrapped in heavily spiced lamb sausage and fried. I've previously had them rolled in a bread crumb coating and deep fried. I think maybe for this price point that some may be disappointed with the portion. 

The pretzel bites were very good (I was truthfully afraid after being scarred from one too many bad pretzels at In'finiti). While not especially pretzel-y, the bites were crispy on the edges (almost like a cheese puff) and very buttery. The mustard sauce was good, but the cheese sauce had a mobility problem, so we didn't get too much to adhere to our pretzels. 

While I admit my love for the previous place has carried over to this one, I want to see this place succeed. The draught list is solid, the cocktail list intriguing, and the wine full of things I'd never even heard of. Entrees range are typical proteins - chicken and steak, but with intriguing sides like spatzle. The restaurant is staffed with industry pros, and the space transformed into a hipper, younger joint. 

I encourage my fellow bowlers to stop in and check the place out before or after a game. And the rest of you will just have to make the trek down into Bayside to see this place's potential for yourself.