Spoiler alert: I had more fun visiting Erik’s Church in Windham than I’ve had doing any other bar review, and I hesitate to tell others. What if it becomes so popular that I can no longer get in?
My drinking companion and I showed up at midday on a Saturday two months after Erik’s Church opened, so we weren’t expecting much. The second we walked in, though, we realized that we were in for an afternoon of surprises.
First, there’s live country music in the middle of the day. Not every day, but often. (The phenomenal Justin Jaymes was playing.) Second, it was far from deserted; apparently, word spreads quickly. Third, service was excellent. The hostess who enthusiastically greeted us was also our server, and she never missed a beat, even catching when the bartender mixed up an order and fixing it right away. Fourth, the chefs are from Nosh, so the food was fantastic, without the wait that you often have at Nosh and with a more varied menu.
The enormous space has multiple seating options – sofas, high-tops, bar seating and regular tables. The room is decorated with a mix of military banners and seals (sadly, no Navy SEALs were in sight) and country decorations, such as wagon-wheel light fixtures. It’s an atmosphere welcoming to current and former service members, which is great to see.
There’s no special cocktail menu, so I did what any self-respecting Texan would do and ordered an $8 Jack and Coke. It was so strong that I felt right at home – you know, the kind of drink where you pour a big glass of Jack and then add a splash of Coke for color. My more sophisticated drinking buddy ordered a $10 Manhattan. Also available was $5 beer and $8 wine, but so help me, if you go to a country music bar and order wine instead of liquor or beer, I will personally come dump your glass of wine over your head.
My friend ordered the Buddha salad ($12), which consisted of edamame hummus, falafel, greens, cucumber, tomato, feta cheese, and sumac yogurt. I lived in the Middle East for over eight years, and (I still can’t believe I’m saying this) the best falafel I’ve ever had was in a country music bar in Windham. My friend had to stab me with her fork in order to get me out of her salad.
It’s not like I was hungry. I had ordered the nachos, which start at $14. I added jerk chicken for $5, but I somehow missed the fine print about how one order was enough for 637 people. The nachos arrived on a baking sheet, and I’m surprised our server could carry it out without assistance. They were delicious, but I barely made a dent.
I should probably stop trying new bars right now, as I’m convinced I’m never going to have as much fun anywhere else. Was it the live country music, the never-ending nachos, the terrific service or the Jack flowing through my veins? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s for me to return.
WHERE: 824 Roosevelt Trail, Windham
PHONE: (207) 572-1447
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
AMENITIES: Parking lot, large music stage, dance floor, Nosh food, “Hunker Down” takeaway window next door, dueling piano performances, occasional line dancing and/or karaoke (they’re still figuring out what works).
BOTTOM LINE: How can you not love a place whose motto is “Good Times; Bad Dancing?” Worth the drive.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes