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Aimsel Ponti

Aimsel Ponti is a Content Producer at MaineToday.com and a music writer for MaineToday.com 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 Mainetoday.com. 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 about...music of course.

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Posted: June 5, 2017

From veggie to duck, BRGR Bar’s patties satisfy

Written by: Aimsel Ponti
The BRGR at BRGR Bar in Portland is two thin mff (Maine family farms) patties, bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and secret sauce. Staff photos by Aimsel Ponti

The BRGR at BRGR Bar in Portland is two thin mff (Maine family farms) patties, bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and secret sauce.
Staff photos by Aimsel Ponti

It’s seldom I meet a burger that I don’t, at least, like. So when I got wind a few months ago that a joint called BRGR Bar opened its second location (after Portsmouth, New Hampshire) in downtown Portland, I made plans to get lunch there faster than you can say “hold the tomato.”

A couple of weeks ago, my spouse, Tracy, and our out-of-town friend Joan met me there at about noon on a Monday and I, per usual, walked in starving and ready to devour the first thing that was put in front of me.

We grabbed a booth, were presented with menus and I quickly found myself in a happy place perusing the mouth-watering options, including the OO-Mommy (beef patty topped with Gorgonzola, beer-battered onion rings, bacon and onion jam for $14), the Nashville Hot (spicy fried chicken, cheddar cheese, house-made pickles and coleslaw for $12) and the Up In Smoke (bison burger with smoked Gouda, applewood-smoked bacon, grilled red onion, avocado, bourbon barbecue sauce, lettuce and tomato for $17).

Ultimately, I opted for what is surely the most popular menu item, a magnificent creation simply called The BRGR. It’s two thin Maine Family Farms patties (all of their beef is from local farms), bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and secret sauce for $13.50. Side options are fries or a house salad. I don’t actually have to tell you which side I ordered, do I?

When said burger was delivered I shot my dining companions a look that said, “Don’t talk to me for the next 12 minutes, I’m about to enter the Devour Zone.” And, I must say, said look was warranted, as this burger was a righteous feast of multiple flavors cooked to perfection and good to the last morsel, because I, of course, ate the entire thing, which was no small feat. The fries were only so-so, but that hardly mattered, I wasn’t there for the fries. This was a mighty fine burger, and I can’t wait to get back for another one. It’s entirely possible I might not order anything else from the menu, so smitten I am with The BRGR. I have no idea what was in the secret sauce and don’t need to know, but it was tasty so that’s good enough for me.

Now, on to my lunch dates. Joan opted for the What the Duck, which is a duck patty topped with fried kale, goat cheese and blueberry bacon jam for $14. Although she said it was a bit on the messy side, she also said that true duck lovers will forgive that because no one wants to eat dry duck. Joan wondered why they bothered with the kale because it immediately lost all crispiness on top of the juicy duck. But what I really envied was Joan’s choice of beverages.

What the Duck, a duck patty topped with fried kale, goat cheese and blueberry bacon jam at BRGR Bar in Portland paired with The Thin Mint adult milkshake made with brownie bits, chocolate syrup, rum and peppermint schnapps.

What the Duck, a duck patty topped with fried kale, goat cheese and blueberry bacon jam at BRGR Bar in Portland paired with The Thin Mint adult milkshake made with brownie bits, chocolate syrup, rum and peppermint schnapps.

Since she had nowhere to be but on a plane later that day, Joan turned to the “adult” milkshake menu and ordered exactly what I would have gotten, if I was still eating sugar and didn’t have to go back to work that day. The Thin Mint ($11) is brownie bits, chocolate syrup, rum and peppermint schnapps, and it looked glorious. Joan said it was terrific and that she was glad she asked for a spoon to scoop up the brownie bits that sank to the bottom.

Earth Burger at BRGR Bar in Portland is a fried quinoa and lentil veggie patty with sauteed portabellos, walnut pesto, lettuce and tomato relish served on a gruvere crusted bun. This one was served with a side of sweet potato fries.

Earth Burger at BRGR Bar in Portland is a fried quinoa and lentil veggie patty with sauteed portabellos, walnut pesto, lettuce and tomato relish served on a gruvere crusted bun. This one was served with a side of sweet potato fries.

As for Tracy, she ordered the Earth Burger (fried quinoa and lentil veggie patty with sautéed portobellos, walnut pesto, lettuce and tomato relish served on a Gruyère-crusted bun for $12), and she went for the gold by ordering a side of sweet potato fries to go with it. Veggie burgers and I have never had a particularly close relationship, but I have to say, this one looked mighty fine. She reported that it was not too dense, and the Gruyère cheese crusted roll added a nice crunch. Although she doesn’t always like pesto, in this instance, she said, it was a “great addition adding freshness and zing.” Tracy also gave high marks to the perfectly cooked sweet potato fries. We all agreed the atmosphere was a little stark, but we were there on a Monday. It’s easy to imagine BRGR Bar being a swinging hot spot on the weekends.

My belly and I say, “Welcome to Portland, BRGR Bar.” We’ll both see you again soon.

BRGR BAR

WHERE: 11 Brown St., Portland, 835-0786, brgr-bar.com
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday
WAIT: 10 to 15 minutes
PARKING: On street
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

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