Do you have places that you’ve been meaning to go to forever? One of mine was Andy’s Old Port Pub on Commercial Street. I finally made it happen…twice. The first time was a spontaneous solo evening jaunt about three weeks ago, and the second visit was my standing Eat and Run lunch date with Jen two weeks ago.
My first visit landed me a seat at the bar, where I listened to singer-songwriter Ronda Dale play in the front window area while I sipped a cold beer. The menu excited me with items like a pulled pork sandwich served on homemade corn bread ($11) and the “Plane Guy’s Patty Melt” (premium Angus burger topped with caramelized onions, Swiss and Russian dressing on grilled rye, $12). The pizza list also tempted, especially “Sophie’s Dream” (BBQ sauce, bacon, caramelized onions, mozzarella, pulled pork or grilled chicken, $12.50 small, $18.50 large).
But after careful consideration of both my hunger level and my waistline, I opted for Andy’s “Turkey Bliss” ($9.50). The well-named sandwich is comprised of sliced turkey, tomato, cheddar and garlic-onion marmalade on toasted whole wheat bread. All sandwiches come with a choice of slaw, chips, kettle chips, baked beans or fries. For a dollar more, get a side salad or sweet potato fries; for $2 more, onion rings can be yours. I gave myself a big pat on the back for choosing cole slaw because I’ve never met a chip or fry I didn’t love.
About 10 minutes later, my meal arrived. While Dale and her band played, the chatter of patrons filled the room and the Red Sox game scrolled by on mute on the TV, I dug into my Turkey Bliss and downed about half of it before coming up for air. My new favorite thing is Andy’s garlic-onion marmalade, because it’s not only delicious, it surely helped keep the vampires away on my walk back to the car.
My second visit was at noontime and although we were seated immediately, the wait for both food and check were longer than they should have been. Luckily, we weren’t in a huge hurry that day, and both Jen and I loved our lunches.
Jen opted for the daily special of tuna tacos (about $10). Served on warm tortillas, the tacos were crammed with fresh tuna, a slaw of pickled cabbage and onions and a tomato salsa with lime cream sauce trickled on top. Feeling carnivorous, I ordered the French dip. It’s a classic sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef au jus served on a lightly toasted French roll. A small costs $8.50, and the large will run you $14.50. The waiter didn’t ask what size I wanted and I assumed the smaller version would arrive. Wrong, and I ate the large one like food itself was going out of style. In the years since my last French dip, I had forgotten how delectable this sandwich is. Andy’s Old Port Pub does them right.
I just wish it had been a longer walk back to my office so that I could have burned off more calories but hey, no regrets right?
I’m certain I’ll be hitting Andy’s Old Port Pub again before too long. They haven’t re-invented the wheel, but they do offer reasonably priced, flavorful food in an unpretentious, casual setting. And the free popcorn wasn’t lost on me either.
WHERE: 94 Commercial St., Portland; 874-2639; andysoldportpub.com
HOURS: 11 a.m. to midnight. Daily
WAIT: About 15 minutes
PARKING: On street and garages and nearby lots
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes