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Claire Jeffers

Claire Jeffers is a freelance writer living in Portland, Maine. Follow her on Twitter: @claireeats

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Posted: August 19, 2014

Check out the view & the happy hour at Royal River Grillhouse in Yarmouth

Written by: Claire Jeffers
There’s plenty of outdoor seating overlooking the Royal River. Each table has an umbrella and there’s extra covered seating extending from the bar area. Claire Jeffers photo

There’s plenty of outdoor seating overlooking the Royal River. Each table has an umbrella and there’s extra covered seating extending from the bar area. Claire Jeffers photo

The Royal River Grillhouse in Yarmouth is known for its wrap-around deck that overlooks the Royal River, where patrons munch on the catch of the day, mussels or the restaurant’s prized truffle fries. With a deck and a view that good, one might say the worst time to visit the Grillhouse is on a rainy summer evening. Yet, last Wednesday, when southern Maine was struck by torrents of rain, the Grillhouse was still busy. In fact, the bar stools were all occupied and the bartender, a good-humored and seasoned professional, even seemed to be under water.

The bar is a fully stocked throwback to something of a fancy seaside saloon. On the far right is a broad circular window – a porthole, but not exactly – and the counter, shelves and stools are all lacquered wood. The counter is raised along the edge, which makes it awkward to lean on one’s forearms and drink. But, then again, maybe leaning is considered rude. Halogen lights hang directly above your head and can be blinding, so don’t look up too often.


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Guests sit two-by-two sipping white wine or a local beer on draught (Allagash, Geary’s, Shipyard, Peaks, and Belfast were featured) and there’s a good chance you’ll sit next to a Grillhouse return customer who will lean over to tell you what to order. The mussels and fries come highly recommended.

Royal River Grillhouse is located off Route 88 in Yarmouth and offers a 3-6 p.m. happy hour seven days a week. Claire Jeffers photo

Royal River Grillhouse is located off Route 88 in Yarmouth and offers a 3-6 p.m. happy hour seven days a week. Claire Jeffers photo

From 3-6 p.m., catch happy hour at the Grillhouse, which features $4 off all local draught beers, $5 off house wines, and 20 percent off mixed drinks. Happy hour runs seven days a week in the lounge area, as opposed to the usual five. Monday night is half price wine bottle night and they’ll happily cork the bottle to go if you don’t finish.

The frenzied yet collected bartender recommended the Caipiroska cocktail as one of the house favorites. Typically made with just vodka, lime and brown sugar, the Grillhouse makes their own version with Finlandia grapefruit vodka, elderflower liqueur, grapefruit juice and pomegranate puree ($8). While one of the cheaper cocktails on the list of 10, the drink was too tart and could have done without at least one of the additions, such as the pomegranate puree.

Other than the Caipiroska, the cocktail list didn’t seem all that imaginative – when every drink list in town boasts blueberry or pomegranate or rhubarb something-or-other fizz, be wary. Stick to old standbys.

By 7:30 on weeknights, most of the early birds at the bar have eaten and left. The hammering downpour outside also could have had something to do with a prompt clear out. On breezy, clear summer evenings the deck is sure to be packed.

Royal River Grillhouse

WHERE: 106 Lafayette St., Yarmouth

PHONE: 846-1226

WEBSITE: royalrivergrillhouse.com

HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday brunch and dinner

SPECIALS: Lounge happy hour 3 to 6 p.m.; Monday half price wine bottles

AMENITIES: Outdoor seating, clean bathrooms, coat hooks, hostess station

PARKING: Large parking lot

WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes

BOTTOM LINE: The Royal River Grillhouse in Yarmouth has been around for 20 years and was once a sardine cannery. While quite busy most nights, the service is exemplary, even if you have to wait longer than usual for a drink. The Grillhouse would be a great place to hang out on a warm, sunny Saturday on their deck during happy hour.

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