It may look like a diner from the outside, but don’t be fooled; there’s a hip, trendy bar behind the shiny silver exterior of Flux Restaurant and Bar in Lisbon Falls.
On a recent Friday just after 5 p.m., four of us arrived for early cocktails and dinner. The hostess asked if we had reservations, which we did not. But the long bar was wide open, and it was easy to score four seats. The restaurant filled up quickly, so if you don’t want to sit at the bar, you should make reservations.
Over in the corner, bluesman Dave Mello set up for the evening for a solo performance and provided a nice backdrop for our conversation and cocktails. Our bartender, who happened to be one of the owners, answered questions about the 12-tap beer and cider selection (with other varieties available in bottles). My dining companions choose to go with a Mason’s Brewing Co. Hipster Apocalypse and a Boothbay Craft Brewery Thirsty Botanist, both $7.
The bartender then pitched a couple of specialty cocktails, also for $7, including an Aruba Wind, with Bacardi and pineapple juice, and a Cool as a Cuke, which is cucumber-infused vodka with ginger ale. As you might imagine, the cucumber drink was light and refreshing. The Aruba Wind tasted like a creamsicle with a cherry bobbing around inside.
We put in an appetizer order for maple mustard wings ($8), chatted and sized up the crowd that was coming in. It was a real mix, with families and children, an elderly couple enjoying the music and younger folks who looked like they were on a date. Most sat at tables, which are behind the bar stools in the wide-open room.
Across the way, you could see into the kitchen through a window where food came out at a steady rate. Our six wings arrived quickly and were sweet and zesty. Other appetizer options include poutine, nachos and tempura cauliflower.
For a second round, one of my dining companions ordered a raspberry margarita ($8), which she described as something that tasted like a bowl of raspberries with sugar on top.
The restaurant opened just last month, according to the Sun Journal, and is operated by two brothers. It was the former site of Dr. Mike’s Madness Café and is a few doors down from what used to be the Kennebec Fruit Co. run by Frank Anicetti, the founder of the town’s annual Moxie Festival. Anicetti, who died last year, sold the store in 2016, and it’s now a bar called Frank’s, in his honor, according to a Press Herald story.
At Flux, the dinner menu includes interesting options like kimchi fried rice, beef Bolognese and a burger. There’s a variety of salads and a kids’ menu. The menu also highlights the local farms and breweries that provide much of the food and drink. At one point, our bartender said everything is made on site except for the ketchup.
As the crowd grew to fill the space, so did the orders heading into the kitchen. While some of us got our food in good time, others in our party had to wait a very long time for theirs to arrive. The bartender apologized profusely and explained that a table of 13 got their order in ahead of theirs.
The delay wouldn’t keep me from going back, especially for the tasty cocktails and wings. But next time, I would make reservations and maybe get a seat near the music to better enjoy the whole atmosphere Flux has to offer.
WHERE: 12 Main St., Lisbon Falls
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
AMENITIES: Occasional live music, a variety of table and bar seating, open to the kitchen so you can see the chefs at work.
BOTTOM LINE: With specialty cocktails selling for $7 to $8 and Maine microbrews for $7, it’s a good deal for great bar service in a hip new place.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes