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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: February 6, 2018

Sebago Brewing in Scarborough works for a business lunch or an after-work beer

Written by: Bob Keyes

One of the vital parts of a journalist’s job is having a reliable coffee house, bar or restaurant to meet sources for interviews. When I worked in downtown Portland, it was easy. There were a dozen places within a five-minute walk of the newspaper’s former offices.

Now that our offices are out by the mall in South Portland, those reliable and convenient nearby places are hard to find. There’s nothing within a five-minute walk except other office buildings, chain retail stores and restaurants, and conglomerate coffee shops, where ordering a medium-size, medium-blend coffee with room for cream is more complicated than worth the effort.

In recent weeks, I’ve scheduled three interviews at Sebago Brewing Co. on Southborough Drive in Scarborough. It’s an easy place to find, but not necessarily an easy place to get to. It’s in the high-traffic area across from the Christmas Tree Shops near Cummings Road, but it’s accessible via Southborough Drive, which doubles as the access road to a couple of hotels that are set back from the main road.

I like Sebago Brewing Co. for several reasons, not the least of which is the beer. Sebago’s Frye’s Leap IPA is among my go-to IPAs whenever I face a beer dilemma, and the deep-amber Roundabout Red is my top choice among darker beers. But because I am meeting people for interviews on work time, I can only admire the taps and wish for after hours.

In addition to being conveniently located, the Scarborough Sebago makes for a good meeting place because there are plenty of booths that offer decent privacy for a conversation, the bar has enough elbow room to open a notebook and spread out, and there are quiet places throughout the dining area that are conducive to having a conversation even when it’s busy and crowded.

Sebago also has an appealing menu. On recent visits, I have tried the patty melt ($11.50), a baked haddock sandwich (also $11.50) and a shaved sirloin sandwich (you guessed it, $11.50).

I liked the patty melt because of its decadence. It was dripping with sauteed onions and dressing, and the hamburger patty was greasy in the best possible way – not so much that it was gross, but just enough to make it deliciously sloppy. I loved the rye bread and Swiss cheese.

The baked haddock sandwich was less successful. The roll was nice and chewy, but the haddock fillet crumbled after a single bite, leaving more bread than fish. The sandwich fell apart, with chunks of fish falling onto the plate, along with the tomato and lettuce. I ended up eating much of it with a fork.

The big winner of the three was Sebago’s version of the Philly cheesesteak. The sirloin was thinly sliced and smothered among roasted peppers and sauteed onions. The Italian roll was gently grilled. The sandwich tasted lively – fresh and spunky with pepper jack cheese, yes, but mostly it was just well put together, with appropriate proportions of steak, onions and pepper, and the roll held together with every bite. It was easy to eat and exactly what I had in mind when I ordered it.

In each instance, I ordered fries as a side, which were, for the most part, pedestrian. Nothing special, but good enough. In one instance, I also ordered a cup of clam chowder ($5). It was billed as “traditional New England style,” which to me means thick and a little sandy. It was thick, with ample chunks of clams and potatoes, but no gritty remnants of sand. I don’t mind a little sand, especially when I have a beer to wash it down.

Next time, I’ll schedule my interview for after 5.

Sebago Brewing Co.

WHERE: 201 Southborough Drive, Scarborough. 874-2337,
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily
WAIT: 10 to 15 minutes
PARKING: Plenty of parking in a dedicated lot

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