The Sea Dog Brewing Company, perched alongside the Androscoggin River in Topsham, is a favorite stop for us (and maybe you, too) for burgers and brews. But if you haven’t tried their Sunday brunch, you will be astonished!
You wouldn’t expect a pub to be crowded on a Sunday morning, but we actually had a short wait for a table when we arrived at 11 a.m. While Lin sat patiently on a bench, I bolted to the end of the large dining room to check out the food and take photos.
Amazing doesn’t begin to describe the array of appetizers, entrees and desserts arranged in a semi-circle and taking up the entire end of the dining room. The brunch menu changes every week as Chef Jess English works to feature fresh produce from Maine farms and likes to be creative.
We continue to eat here because we like their commitment to Maine farms — and, of course, we love their food. At $18, the Sunday buffet is a real bargain. It’s one of the best in the state.
There is so much food, you must dine strategically. I uncharacteristically bypass the sweets and carefully select a few starters, including clam chowder (thick, creamy and nicely salted), flatbread with tomato and cheese (yummy, eaten while I move along in the buffet line) and corned beef hash (based on a previous visit, this remains one of my favorites here, made with Topsham’s Bisson Farm brisket).
By the time I return to our table at the far end of the dining room, our server Ryan has delivered Mimosas — a real bargain at just $3. It’s always tough to bypass my favorite Sea Dog brews, but hey, it’s Sunday morning.
Ryan takes very good care of us, and other staff members do a superb job of keeping all of the food fresh in the buffet line.
It’s not long before I’m back in line, selecting a hand-rolled crepe with pear preserves, cream cheese, honey and a blueberry crème brule sauce. Wow! I skip over to one of the two stations where chefs are standing by, and order a Latimo Taco, spiced roasted pork loin in a flour tortilla with provolone cheese, sauerkraut, tomato, cilantro and avocado — a pretty good list of my favorite things. Delicious.
Conscience already kicking in, I bypass the carved pork steamship round and select some fresh fruit — it adds some nice color to my plate, and where on earth do they get fresh strawberries that taste that good this time of year?
After a breather (during which we visited with Seth Hale, who has managed this Sea Dog since it opened nine years ago), I’m back in line for cornmeal-crusted redfish (crispy, and the rice really added great flavor), bacon, fresh shrimp and cocktail sauce and another made-to-order dish, an omelette with bacon, cheddar and tomato. It was really, really good.
When I return to the table this time, Seth has sent over a sampling of their current “Release Beer,” a special brew that changes every month. This month it’s a Wee Heavy Ale, described as a “hefty Scottish Ale with a beautiful deep garnet color boasting strong malty character.”
It’s fantastic, and packs a punch at 12 percent ABV. They sell it only in 10-ounce glasses, and limit customers to two servings. Smart.
Seth told us that his Sea Dog has been serving brunch since it opened, and is very popular with local people. We talked a bit about local producers he uses, including Pineland Farms for cheeses and the Sausage Kitchen in Lisbon Falls for some meats.
I can verify the popularity of their brunch. The tavern is filled with friends, family members and even a group of young mothers enjoying a child’s birthday party.
Because we took our time and lingered about two hours, I found room for dessert and select a big helping of Tiramisu. It provided a very nice finish for a wonderful Sunday dining experience.
I am not a jump-out-of-bed-and-have-breakfast kind of person. So wrapping up a weekend spent in Brunswick with a leisurely Sunday brunch at Sea Dog was a very appealing proposition.
We arrived at 11 a.m. to find that many others were way ahead of us. During our short 15-minute wait for a table, I struck up a conversation with a couple who told me they come here for many special occasions, including Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. “They put on quite a spread,” the man said.
This was just a normal Sunday and yet the Sea Dog brunch was still quite a spread! Having come here once before, we knew we wanted small bites of lots of types of food. I looked for the flatbread I loved so much, and found today’s version was bacon, tomato and asiago cheese.
My favorite find of this brunch might well have been the bruschetta topping to spoon on crostini. It was on a small table a bit away from the long buffet line, and I found myself going back for more to eat with my egg dishes. Yum!
Help yourself to hollandaise sauce by the ladle for your eggs Benedict. Or you can order up a freshly cooked omelet with your choice of fillings. The chef didn’t even blink when I inquired about the possibility of a small, one-egg omelet. From his deft handling of the ingredients and that fry pan, you could tell he’s made a few omelets in his career. Mine held fresh spinach, mushrooms, onions and cheese, and was absolutely perfect.
Other standouts were the homefry slices and addictively perfect bacon. Mmmm. These are the things that add to a fantastic brunch for me.
I noticed fresh berries and whipped cream over by the pancake station. and decided to embellish my cute pear crepe with a little of both on top. I forgot how much I love fruit crepes. This dish was another of my favorites.
Take as little or as long as you like enjoying this meal. Our meal took two hours. We were ravenous when we arrived. Let’s just say we weren’t hungry when we left, and dinner that night was a small cup of tomato soup at home.
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