This is a construction story. If you’ve been through Hallowell anytime recently, you know it’s a mess. Water Street is torn up and auto traffic can be challenging.
I drove through a few weeks ago en route to the Maine State Museum and planned to stop at my favorite of all Maine pubs, the Liberal Cup, for a late lunch. But the construction posed a challenge, and I felt lucky to find a parking spot right on Water Street – and right in front of the Quarry Tap Room, which is nearly across the street from the Liberal Cup. I had planned to cross the street on foot, but between the construction and the temptation of a sun-drenched outside patio at the Quarry Tap Room, I opted for the sunny side of the street. I was able to snag an outside table on a warm early-fall afternoon with a decent view of the Kennebec River off on my right.
I was immediately impressed with the beer selection, with several dozen taps and a lot of Maine beers. The waiter was super friendly and efficient, and the food was excellent.
I wished I was here with my wife, who would have gone gaga over the both the beer choices and a fantastic appetizer menu that includes wings (10 for $10), poutine ($8) and fried pickles ($7). Alas, I was alone, so I skipped the apps and went right to the sandwiches.
I settled on the beer-battered fried haddock ($14), which came with bacon on a grilled roll. I loved the sandwich for many reasons, but one mostly: the bacon. What a brilliant idea. I am sure I have had it before, but the idea of bacon on a fish sandwich struck me as novel, and it really made the sandwich sing. The crisp bacon added both texture and a salty taste. The haddock was crisp and deeply fried, but not greasy. I also liked the grilled roll and thought it added a nice touch.
My sandwich came with fries. For an extra $3, I could have had a salad or sweet potato fries. I went for the sea salt and vinegar fries, which were solidly average. They were less crispy than I like. But overall, I loved my food and my experience. I was treated well with service that was friendly and efficient, and the food was good. And it’s a nice place. The deck overlooks a lower outside area that includes a stage for bands and games of bean bag toss.
I even appreciated the men’s room, where kegs are fashioned into urinals.
I felt a little disloyal ditching the place across the street but was glad to expand my horizons and add another name to my list of favorite pubs in Maine.
WHERE: 122 Water St., Hallowell; (207) 213-6173, quarrytaproom.com
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to midnight daily
WAIT: 10 minutes
PARKING: Street parking, mostly
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes