George

We sure know how to pick ’em. The day we were planning to have dinner in Bangor at Geaghan’s Pub, Greg Dugal of the Maine Restaurant Association showed up at the restaurant earlier in the day to surprise the Geaghans with an award as the 2016 Restaurateurs of the Year. Given the large number of wonderful restaurants in our state, this is quite an honor. But not a surprise to us.

Geaghan’s has been a favorite of ours since we began writing this column five years ago. I spoke to the Bangor Rotary on Jan. 5, so we decided to stay overnight and enjoy dinner at Geaghan’s, conveniently located in the same building as Fireside Inn and Suites, right across the street from the Cross Insurance Bangor Auditorium.

The Geaghan family has owned and operated its pub and craft brewery for 40 years. Today brothers Larry, Peter and Pat, along with Larry’s son Andrew, are in charge, maintaining the family’s commitment to their customers and the community. This is a family friendly place.

The Geaghan’s brew their own beer and expanded that operation to a new facility across the river in Brewer last year. You can now find their brews at Damon’s Beverage Mart in Augusta, Joka’s in Waterville, Cobbossee Beverage in Farmingdale and Craft Beer Cellar in Gardiner. Our dinner menu that night included an impressive list of 15 of the Geaghan’s microbrews, but I stuck to my favorite, Smiling Irish Bastard, named for one of their uncles.

We’ve been in a bit of a (nice) rut at Geaghan’s, always ordering our favorites, their wonderful Reuben and their amazing Buffalo chicken wings. We’re not the only ones who love the wings. They sell more than 50,000 pounds of chicken wings each year. But we agreed to expand our horizons and order items we’d not tried before — and now we have more favorites.

Our friendly server, Donna, helped us through the menu as we contemplated our choices. She brought us out a sample of the beef chili, which has a bit of a sweet taste, and next time I’ll be ordering a bowl of it. My Crowley’s Black Irish steak melt ($9.99) was superb, with crumbled blue cheese, crisp bacon and grilled onion along with melted cheddar cheese on their own fresh-baked white bread. I had onion rings with it, nice and crispy, and also dipped heavily into Linda’s sweet potato fries, another of our favorites.

We love one of their desserts, the Bailey’s Irish pie, but Linda would let us order only one serving, and insisted on taking it back to our room and saving it for later. That gave me an excuse to order the pumpkin chocolate porter, a new brew and their darkest beer. The aftertaste of chocolate is delightful in this rich and creamy beer. Oh no! Another favorite.

Prices at Geaghan’s are low, especially for the quality and quantity of food. We’re now planning a visit to their new tasting room in Brewer, where they offer tastings and tours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Linda

It’s a new year and perhaps time to break out of some ingrained habits. At Geaghan’s, I always order their incredibly tasty boneless Buffalo chicken wings. It is hard to go there and not order them, but we pledged that we would try some new dishes this time. After all, all the food here is great.

I spotted fried pickles on the specials menu and convinced George that this was the appetizer we needed to try.

“Haven’t we tried these before?”

“Oh, I think so.”

“They were very good.”

Yup, it was a repeat, but my, oh my, were they tasty. That crunchy coating covering warm, salty pickles was made even better with a ranch dressing dip.

The Buffalo chicken wings were right there, staring at me, so I flipped the menu over to the other side. That’s where the many varieties of melts and burgers made it hard to decide what to order. We know the Reuben is great, as is the Molly Malone haddock sandwich. I ended up ordering the black pastrami melt served on marbled rye. The lean pastrami was not overly salty, and was great when paired with Swiss cheese and grilled onions. It reminded me of a patty melt, which I love.

Because we were staying right at the Fireside Inn that night, we ordered a piece of their original creation — the Bailey’s Irish Cream pie to take to our room. Yes, we’ve had this before as well. My resolve of trying all new things didn’t hold up all that well. A bit later, when I opened the container, I saw that Donna had thoughtfully added a container of whipped cream and one of chocolate sauce so we could embellish our pie ourselves. It’s a rich, incredible dessert you really must try. We always split a piece, and it is plenty — no matter what George says.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.


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