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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: April 17, 2017

At The Local Buzz, there’s good food, good art and a good vibe

Written by: Bob Keyes
The Local Buzz also has beers on draft. Staff photos by Bob Keyes

The Local Buzz also has beers on draft.
Staff photos by Bob Keyes

Ambiance is a lot like aesthetics. It’s personal, and entirely subjective. When you find a place that has good ambiance, where you are comfortable hanging out, you tend to go back.

There was a period, many years ago, when I spent a lot of time at The Local Buzz in Cape Elizabeth, because I liked the vibe and I also found it favorable for a good conversation. It was easy feeling comfortable there, and conversations flowed naturally.

For a variety of circumstances, my routine changed and I began spending less time at the Cape Elizabeth coffee house, bar and bistro than I had in the past. After a two- or three-year absence, I stopped in a few weeks ago and immediately felt right at home.

Grilled cheese panini, $7.50, with chips, at The Local Buzz. Photo by Bob Keyes

Grilled cheese panini, $7.50, with chips, at The Local Buzz.
Photo by Bob Keyes

I had an appointment at 1 p.m. and arrived an hour early to grab a bite and catch up on work. It was raining pretty hard, and I was looking for a place to escape quietly. I nabbed a seat at the bar, powered up my laptop and settled in, ordering a grilled cheese panini ($7.50). First impressions: The menu was outstanding, at least for a coffee house. There were many appealing choices, the prices were reasonable and the food looked good.

I also debated the BLT and a ham and brie panini ($9.50) and, in other circumstances, might have opted for a local hot dog ($7). There was a ham, fig and smoked cheddar sandwich, a hummus wrap and veggie burger, as well as a range of salads and bar snacks. The breakfast sandwiches are equally good and made with locally sourced ingredients.

There’s really good coffee by Coffee By Design and a nice selection of local beer.

The Local Buzz is spacious. I was the only one seated the bar, but several tables were occupied, one near the front by a large group of friends, who cackled loudly but didn’t bother me because they were far enough away, and a couple behind me and another solo guy, working on his computer.

The barista/bartender/cook was chatty and friendly, but respectful of my desire to work. He mostly left me alone, and I never felt rushed or ignored.

The sandwich was pretty near perfect, with gooey, stringy cheese that was so good and so well melted I had to ask what it was: Cabot cheddar. I made a note of it and will seek it out for the next grilled cheese sandwich I make at home. The bread was lightly grilled, and the sandwich held together well despite the oozing cheese.

It came with a bag of chips, which struck me as a little low-rent, but not enough to lessen the enjoyment of my meal. It was a simple sandwich, well done, which is all I expected and hoped for.

Fish sculptures by South Portland artist Link Stevens, on view at The Local Buzz in Cape Elizabeth through April. Photo by Bob Keyes

Fish sculptures by South Portland artist Link Stevens, on view at The Local Buzz in Cape Elizabeth through April.

There are two other things worth nothing about The Local Buzz. It supports local artists, with live music and with a rotating gallery of art work. On view through the end of April are painted wood fish sculptures by South Portland artist Link Stevens, who fashions the fish on a band saw, paints or stains them, and then arranges them in schools on a backdrop of driftwood that he collects while boating in Casco Bay. He’s been making them for about three years and recently has begun showing his work in galleries.

I love how his pieces capture the movement of small fish when they travel in schools. Most of the pieces hanging at The Local Buzz are menhaden, a key food-chain species for bluefish, stripers and tuna. He’s also got a few sperm whales and tuna.

Between my lunch and my coffee appointment, I spent about two hours and $15, which I deemed money well spent. With all the new this and new that in the world, it felt good to be back to a familiar place.

THE LOCAL BUZZ

WHERE: 327 Ocean House Road, Cape Elizabeth
HOURS: 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
WAIT: 10 minutes, but what’s the rush? Pull up a chair and stay a while.
PARKING: Plenty of spaces in a lot out front
HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: Yes
INFO: 207-541-9024 or localbuzzcafe.com

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