On a recent night, even a torrential downpour didn’t seem to persuade Frog & Turtle diners to stay at home.
Raincoats dripped dry along the back hallway as patrons munched on poutine, mussels and double-stacked burgers, and each table had wine or martini glasses.
The neighborhood pub, now in its tenth year, had every window booth filled and a smattering of tables and bar seats occupied – a relatively slow night for a place that hosts up to 100 or more on weekends.
Owners James and Heidi Tranchemontagne, along with their business partners Guy and Jane Cote, have made it their mission to serve locally sourced fare at affordable prices while giving back to the community of Westbrook. Fundraising dinners help provide books for classrooms, and cooking classes at churches and low-income housing units support healthy eating.
The owners’ community spirit seems to spill over to the staff, too. A host was seen holding the door open as patrons ran in from the rainstorm, and there’s a generally feeling of collaboration and accommodation.
James Tranchemontagne spent most of his career cooking in high-end restaurants and said he always wanted to bring the same caliber of service to the masses. At Frog & Turtle, he’s achieved it.
Although the cocktail menu is by no means revolutionary, there’s a good variety of classics and specialty drinks, all for $10 to $12. The bar is stocked with some local spirits, though none of the cocktails appear to include them. Stick with the martini or margarita and, instead of dessert, try the Jane-Tini (amaretto, Bailey’s and Frangelico with cinnamon and nutmeg). It’s not unusual on a Friday night to serve up 35 to 40 drinks in martini glasses.
There are also flights of bourbon (choice of three 1.5-ounce pours) that range from $15 to $25, as well as flights of draft beer selections (four for $11) that include craft, domestic and imports.
Tranchemontagne said the restaurant wants to serve “drinkable wine,” meaning you’ll never see anything with a $200 price tag. Bottles are always between $30 and $40, and glasses are between $6 and $10.
Frog & Turtle features nightly specials and weekly entertainment. There’s a mug club with member discounts on food Tuesday nights, live music and 50-cent wings on Wednesdays, live music every first and third Thursday and a rotating music series every Friday starting at 8:30 p.m.
This is the small-town feel many restaurants try to achieve by striking a balance between quality and affordability. It’s no surprise Frog & Turtle is celebrating 10 years strong.
After three years (and two months), I will be signing off from writing the Bar Guide column. I have had the pleasure of visiting over 150 bars from Ogunquit to Belfast and met so many hardworking restaurant/bar owners, bartenders and servers who are passionate about providing a great experience for their customers. Thank you for doing what you do. As for the incoming columnist… best of luck!
WHERE: 3 Bridge St., Westbrook
HOURS: Bar opens 4 p.m., dinner starts at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; brunch 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday
AMENITIES: Live music stage, lounge seating, booth seating, separate dining room, clean bathrooms, TVs
BOTTOM LINE: A quintessential neighborhood pub with a knack for quality and affordability, Frog & Turtle has defined a loyal following over the last 10 years. With nightly specials and weekly entertainment, this is a place to eat and drink well and gather with friends.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes