Before I check out a bar, I do a little digging to learn about its back story, its owners, its specialties. I like to know not only how the owners market their establishment, but also how its regular patrons and occasional visitors view it. When it comes to hotel bars, I don’t expect to find too much online, so imagine my surprise when I found the following description of Blue Wave Grille at the DoubleTree:
“THE BEST KEPT SECRET! Located between Interstate 95 and the Maine Mall Road and minutes from the heart of the Old Port District. A comfortable, inviting down to earth Maine style innovative menu is hand-crafted in our kitchen and complimented (sic) with a varied and comprehensive wine list. Catch your favorite sports team on one of the flat screen TV’s while enjoying a wide selection of local and international beers. Enjoy a freshly brewed Coffee By Design latte or cappuccino while browsing on your laptop or nestle into one of our lounge couches with a Signature DoubleTree Cookie Martini.”
Excuse me, did somebody say “Cookie Martini?!?” Count me in! I grabbed a drinking companion and raced to South Portland, liver in tow. We found seats at the gorgeous blue-tiled bar counter, which wasn’t hard to do since there weren’t any other customers. They had electrical outlets under the bar but no purse hooks, a flaw which I was willing to overlook in exchange for a Cookie Martini.
Sadly, my liver and I were soon sorely disappointed. The bartender told us that they didn’t have a drink menu – in fact, they didn’t even have a list of beers or wines. In contrast to the “varied and comprehensive wine list” that we had been expecting, we learned that they had “some reds” and “some whites.” (We counted three of each.) Instead of “a wide selection of local and international beers,” there were four draft beers and a dozen or so cans and bottles. There were flat screen TVs and lounge couches, but I didn’t care. I was pouting about the lack of Cookie Martinis.
I decided to engage in the age-old tradition of drinking away my sorrow, so I ordered a $9 Cosmopolitan. My drinking companion went for a $9 French 75. My Cosmo turned out great; the French 75, not so much – it was either flat Prosecco or not poured in the right ratio, because it definitely didn’t taste right. And not just because it didn’t taste like a Cookie Martini.
We then ordered a few items off the not-at-all-innovative food menu. Portions were generous, and the $9 pretzels with cheddar ale dip and the $7 cup of clam chowder (which, in a pleasant surprise, was full of clams and nicely seasoned) were both pretty good. Not good enough to go back for, but better than we had expected given the rest of our experience.
The one bright spot was our bartender, who was clearly inexperienced and flustered yet took great care of us. She kept us informed of delays, explained why certain things had gone wrong and offered to make my friend a new drink when the French 75 didn’t turn out right. Too bad she didn’t know how to make a Cookie Martini.
WHERE: Inside the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 363 Maine Mall Road, South Portland
PHONE: (207) 775-6161
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
AMENITIES: Nice bathrooms.
BOTTOM LINE: The tiles on the bar counter are really pretty. (Yes, I’m stretching here; it’s a hotel bar across from the mall, work with me!)
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes