Sunday, November 16, 2008

brunswick and beer

yesterday seth and i took a very rainy 'sunday drive' to brunswick. never mind that it was a saturday. brunswick is home of bowdoin college and has an adorable historic downtown. we arrived hungry and we were looking for cushing street and el camino restaurant, supposedly the best mexican restaurant in maine. as a native californian i crave mexican on a regular basis. this place had been recommended by more than one friend and was mentioned briefly in the november issue of food and wine. but we didn't find it.
as we drove across the bridge spanning the androscoggin river, into topsham we spotted the sea dog microbrewery and restaurant. the location cannot be beat! it is inside the former bowdoin mill which is a beautiful brick structure that clearly harnessed the power of the androscoggin river to mill whatever they once milled. the designers of the sea dog have left all the brick exposed and have old-timey photos up from when the mill was functional.
beer and the plenitude of breweries that exist in maine have been a sweet treat for seth and i since moving up here. so naturally we ordered the 10 beer sampler. most were quite tasty, though not being a fruit beer fan (except when i was 19), the 5 ounce taster of the wild blueberry ale was just as much as i would ever want.
the food we ordered ended up to be a mixed bag. we started with the fried calamari which was served with a fire roasted pomadoro. it was served piping hot but the sauce simply tasted like tomato sauce and there were very few tentacles on the plate. overall it was okay. for our main courses we shared the seadog ruben sandwich and the haddock soft tacos. the ruben was good, but not great, though i would order it again if i was having a ruben craving. the haddock soft tacos, on the other hand, were amazing! as the menu stated, they were pan blackened with some yummy sauces thrown on, the most tasty being the avocado crema. i took the side of baja cole slaw and put it inside the tacos cuz whats a taco without a little col (spanish for cabbage). the side of black bean rice was mediocre and tasted like they mixed black beans, rice, and jarred salsa. i'm a little biased because i can make a simple can of black beans into something sublime with little more than chopped onions. but even with the mediocre side i would absolutely order the tacos again.
they also have a nice big deck overlooking the river which must be great on a hot summer day. i would defiantly recommend the sea dog, if only for the amazing setting and great beer.
after lunch we drove back across the river and spent a good hour in the in-door flea market in another amazing mill building. we purchased a very cool, old school moxie soda bottle and a book on the history of the world published in 1912. we then took a short, wet walk through downtown brunswick, finishing up at little dog coffee shop for a hot cup of joe. the place was packed with undergrads so there was barely a table to be had. not that it mattered cuz seth isn't one for hanging in cafes. the coffee was great, thanks to coffee by design. one of my favorite things about them, other than their local philosophy and awesome coffee, is that they design brews specifically for the different cafes that sell their coffee. now i love coffee and i can tell the difference between a cup of rosbusta from a cup of arabica, but i probably couldn't tell one cafe's brew from another. its just a fun thing.

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