Sunday, December 8, 2013
George and Linda Smith
When we enjoyed an elegant meal last year at 88, we didn't think this restaurant at the Spruce Point Inn could get any better. But this year, they really stepped it up.
Try Geaghan’s Pub for wings, microbrews
The boneless buffalo wings must be flying out of Geaghan’s Pub these days. They are the No. 1 takeout choice for Bangor area sports fans whenever there is a major sporting event on TV. The Red Sox fall playoff games give fans a great excuse for this amazing meal.
From our first lunch here, these wings have been our favorite. And we’re not alone. They sell 40,000 pounds of wings a year! The wings come with a delicious blue cheese dipping sauce and celery sticks. Accompanied by Geaghan’s microbrews, brewed right on the premises, you’ve got a memorable meal.
That’s just what Linda and I enjoyed with our daughter Hilary while we were in Bangor at the end of August for the folk festival. At the end of a hot afternoon, we were lucky to get a table in the packed pub. All three rooms were full even though we were there early, at 5:30 p.m.
Lin stuck to the tried and true, ordering the one-pound signature platter of wings. She claimed she did that so she’d have enough to share but I don’t recall getting many of them. I had a Black Pastrami Melt, a divine sandwich, with a glass of Geaghan’s Smiling Irish Bastard — a strong pale ale.
Here’s what Hilary had to say: “Dinner at Geaghan’s is exactly the rib-sticking kind of meal you crave after spending hours in the hot sun at the Bangor Folk Festival. While Mom and Dad stuck to their familiar favorites on the menu, I tried a classic Maine entree — the fried scallop plate. Their generous 8-ounce portion of sea scallops was very filling, and accompanied by delicious whipped potatoes and steamed veggies. I washed them down with a pint of Smiling Irish Bastard Pale Ale and was ready for more handclapping and foot-stomping at the Bangor Waterfront.”
Lin loved her Honey Blond ale so much she brought home a growler. We’d returned our previous growler bottle for $3 credit. While you won’t find their superb beers off the premises, you can purchase them there in half or full growlers.
The pub is in the same building at 570 Main Street as the Fireside Inn, located directly across from the new Civic Center and next to Hollywood Slots — a great location. We’ve eaten at Geaghan’s enough times now to have tried quite a few things on the menu — all of which were great — including breakfast. But we urge you, if eating there, not to miss those wings!
IF YOU GO
In the first few minutes after we were escorted to our table, three servers approached: one with complimentary glasses of champagne, another with a basket of rolls with cheddar cheese and caramelized onions and our primary server, Domingo, with a menu, wine list and special welcome.
Boy, did I feel pampered! This is white tablecloth, lots of silverware, piano music in the background, superb service, fine dining. I told Lin I could get used to this at home. Ahem. Guess not.
We hit it off with Domingo from the start. He spends winters in Texas, a favorite birding state for Lin and I, and we shared Texas stories. Domingo is a professional server -- very knowledgeable -- and was a great help throughout the meal as we pondered the many menu choices.
We selected a wine we love, Beaujolais Villages, this one from Louis Latour of France and priced very reasonably at $25. In fact, 88's extensive wine list offers many reasonably priced choices. As Domingo was pouring our first glasses, we were presented with a delicious amuse bouche of Ahi tuna with cucumber, cilantro and lemon oil.
When dining at fine restaurants like 88, I tend to focus on seafood -- mostly because Lin doesn't eat much of it so we don't get it at home. And I have never forgotten the amazing steamed PEI mussels I enjoyed here last year. But the Deviled Eggs starter piqued my curiosity. I've never seen it on a menu before, so I tried it.
This was a very creative presentation, with one egg featuring truffle, one with cracked pepper mélange and one with salmon roe. The server who delivered the plate advised me to eat the eggs in this order: cracked pepper to truffle to salmon roe -- spicy to earthy to savory. Wow! Deviled eggs will never be the same.
At this point, Lin -- always on the lookout for birds -- advised me to turn around and see the bird out in the harbor. Turns out, it was a buoy. "That's not the wine," she asserted. "It's my 60-year-old eyes."
There was a flower on my plate of deviled eggs, and when Domingo returned to pick up the plate he said, "You didn't want to eat your nasturtium?"
"He gets them at home hidden in his salads," Linda answered. News to me.
Selecting an entree was really tough, but I returned to my tried-and-true scallops after being assured that they were Maine scallops. These scallops were perfectly seared (lots of places overcook them but scallops are actually delicious when eaten raw), and presented in a lemon butter sauce. Just divine, accompanied by steamed spinach, fabulous butternut squash and sweet corn hash.
The presentation of this plate was gorgeous and the aroma, as Domingo set the plate in front of me, was incredible. I especially appreciate the fact the portions here are large, but not so big that you can't eat all of your dinner. The bill wasn't too big, either. Our entire dining experience cost less than $100.
When a breakfast muffin arrived with our check, I could not imagine ever eating again. But I did appreciate the thought. Everything at 88 is presented in a thoughtful elegant manner. Can't wait to see how they step it up another notch next year!
When visiting the Boothbay Harbor area, the selection of restaurants can be daunting as there are so many choices. If you are looking for creative food, beautiful presentations, fresh ingredients, amazing flavor and a view of the harbor that will take your breath away, look no further than 88.
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