You don’t need to love sports to enjoy Legends Rest Taproom in Westbrook, two of whose three co-owners also co-own Tomaso’s Canteen in Portland. The décor is typical of a sports bar, but TVs are not the dominant atmosphere. And the food is several steps above, thanks to chef Matt Burns, formerly at Zapoteca in Portland and Nonesuch River Brewing in Scarborough.
Legends Rest is hard to find – if you go to 855 Main St., you won’t see it. From there, you have to go through a pair of glass doors marked with the sign for Full Court Press printing company and walk to the end of the hall. Alternatively, you can enter from the parking lot behind the building.
My first impression was that it was small. It seats about 35 people, and there aren’t any tables that could handle more than four people at a time. The bar seating includes hooks for purses, and the regular seating has coat hooks on the wall.
Legends Rest had been open for only two weeks when I visited this spring. My beer-loving friends were impressed with the variety on the beer menu: 10 local craft brews on draft, $3 to $6 for a 10-ounce “shorty” pour and $5 to $8 for a pint, except during happy hour, when pints are sold at shorty prices and 20-ounce Buds are $2. My cocktail-loving friend ordered the $9 Frenchtown 75 (gin, prosecco, turbinado. and lime). I decided to embrace my Texas roots and have a $6 Yellow Hammer (bourbon and Mountain Dew). I did not regret this decision. The menu even had $2.50 Jell-O shots.
We ordered burgers, tots (Legends Rest’s specialty – they don’t sell fries, onion rings or chips) and wings. Our drinks weren’t fancy-looking and neither was our food, served on paper plates with plastic utensils, but it was perfect for the atmosphere, and the burgers were phenomenal. I’m still thinking about the one I ordered with roasted red peppers, blue cheese and caramelized onions.
Made with brisket, chuck and short rib, the “smashed burgers” are smaller and thinner than typical burgers and have a deep-brown crust that enhances the flavor. Did I mention that the starting price is only $5? You can make it a double for $2 more. The separate 50 cent to $2 toppings menu for burgers, sandwiches and tots features items like fried egg, avocado, sautéed mushrooms and seven kinds of cheese (pause while angels sing).
It turns out that the world (or at least my group of friends) is sharply divided between people who like their tots small and crispy and people who prefer them large and soft like a potato croquette. Legends Rest’s tots (six varieties, from $5 to $7) are the latter.
The $12 dirt chicken wings were also in the winners’ circle. There are five other wing flavors, as well as $4 to $7 bar snacks, $4 to $9 sandwiches and $6 salads. There’s even a turkey burger and a vegetarian burger. The drinks menu lists 14 canned and bottled beers from $3 to $6, five additional cocktails, six wines from $5 to $8 and five beer-shot combos from $6 to $9.
The service was attentive and friendly, and I’d definitely return for another burger (and perhaps a Jell-O shot) the next time I’m in Westbrook. With a motto like “Win or lose, we still booze,” it’s hard for me to find fault.
WHERE: 855 Main St. (behind Big Fin Poke), Westbrook
PHONE: (207) 591-0283
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily
AMENITIES: TVs, parking lot, take-out, food served until 1 a.m., happy hour 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday
BOTTOM LINE: Laid-back place for a small group of friends to grab a chef-quality burger and a beer without paying foodie prices.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes