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Aimsel Ponti

Aimsel Ponti is a Content Producer at and a music writer for and the Portland Press Herald. She has been obsessed with - and inspired by - music since she listened to Monkees records borrowed from the town library when she was six years old. She bought her first Rolling Stones record at a flea market when she was in 7th grade and discovered David Bowie a year later. She's a HUGE fan of the local music scene and covers it along with national musical happenings in her "Face the Music" column and with artist interviews that appear in print in the Portland Press Herald and online at You'll also find her out and about absorbing live music like a sponge and roaming around local record shops and flea markets. Aimsel is also the host of Music from 207 on 98.9 WCLZ and appears monthly on the WCHS TV show “207” to talk of course.

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Posted: September 8, 2016

Dry Dock in Portland maintains its Old Port appeal

Written by: Aimsel Ponti
Rodeo Burger is topped with cheddar, onion rings and BBQ sauce at Dry Dock Restaurant & Tavern in Portland Photo by Aimsel Ponti/Staff Writer

Rodeo Burger is topped with cheddar, onion rings and BBQ sauce at Dry Dock Restaurant & Tavern in Portland
Photo by Aimsel Ponti/Staff Writer

Standing at the crossroads of nostalgia and starvation is what led me to revisit an old favorite spot on Portland’s waterfront. I used to hit it frequently a while back, and it’s not that we broke up, it’s more like we were friends that sort of drifted apart, as sometimes happens.

So, it felt good to waltz into The Dry Dock after a several year hiatus and get a table outside on the second floor deck on the first day of September. Truth be told, I think they might have forgotten about me, as I had to go back in and remind them of my presence after being left alone out there for several minutes, but other than that, it was wonderful to get reacquainted with the place.

The Dry Dock’s menu isn’t particularly huge, but that’s OK because its list of daily specials was massive. The day I was there, it included clam chowder, French onion soup, steamed clams, steamed lobster, a grilled hot pastrami sandwich, an open-faced crab melt, steak and cheese, fish ‘n’ chips, lobster stew and a pineapple-ginger jerk chicken sandwich with black bean salad, among other temptations.

I gave this list a long look before turning my attention to the regular menu where my eyes — and heart — stopped upon seeing something called a Rodeo Burger ($12). It’s a burger topped with cheddar, onion rings and barbecue sauce, served with fries. Yes, you read that right. Topped with onion rings and barbecue sauce. I almost started to sing my own version of the Foreigner song with the new line “I’ve been waiting for a cheeseburger like you to come into my life.”

That’s not to say that I wasn’t tempted by the Tenderloin Tip Sandwich with caramelized onions and horseradish mayo ($17), because I certainly was. And I know that you fish eaters out there would have been giving the fresh haddock sandwich ($12), served blackened or fried, a long look, but the Rodeo Burger had me at hello, and I ordered it with reckless abandon. Note to self: Next time, don’t go during the workday, so that it can be paired with a frosty pint of suds, rather than the depressing Diet Coke I ordered.

I sat out on that deck clinging to the end of summer, as I watched the seagulls flit about and boats in the harbor, with a slight shiver from the breeze. But any chills were quickly replaced by the warm glow of an impending feeding frenzy when my server delivered my Rodeo Burger and left me to devour it.

In classic fashion, I tried to pace myself, but shoved about a half-dozen fries in my face before picking up the giant burger and going to work. It was more medium than the medium-rare I had requested, but all was forgiven, because whoever thought it was a good idea to top a burger with onion rings and barbecue sauce is my new hero.

Hey, Dry Dock, it was so good to get caught up. Let’s do this again. Soon.

The Dry Dock

WHERE: 84 Commercial St., Portland, 774-3550 and on Facebook
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday
WAIT: About 10 minutes
PARKING: On street

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