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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: May 13, 2019

For a bite and beer in Rockland, Rock Harbor is hard to beat

Written by: Bob Keyes

 

Exterior of Rock Harbor Pub & Brewery on Main Street in Rockland.
Photos by Bob Keyes

Since it opened in 2011, Rock Harbor Pub & Brewery has been my go-to place for lunch in Rockland. I like it because it’s within walking distance of everything I need to do in Rockland, the food is good, as is the beer, and the atmosphere is friendly.

It’s a classic American-style pub in a classic American-style downtown. Dan Pease opened the pub and restaurant on Main Street with a four-barrel brewing operation that quickly outgrew its capacity. Two years ago, Rock Harbor opened a production facility and tasting room outside of town, just off Route 1, with a goal of brewing enough beer to establish a statewide distribution network. The downtown pub remains the flagship.

I stopped in after a visit to Rockland’s museums on a recent weekday afternoon. But for one other gentleman at the bar, I had the place to myself. I grabbed a seat at the bar so I could catch up on sports highlights on TV and ordered a bowl of haddock chowder ($5) and a turkey club ($10) with fries. I surprised myself by ordering the sandwich, because my typical bar food order is a burger. But it felt like a turkey day.

A turkey sandwich and cup of chowder at Rock Harbor Pub & Brewery in Rockland.

I had no regrets. The sandwich was excellent, all the way around. What impressed me the most, and what I noted in a text to my wife, was the thickness of the sliced turkey. The sandwich was definitely a sandwich, but it had the substance of a sliced turkey breast served on a platter at Thanksgiving. The turkey was moist and topped with lettuce, tomato and bacon on toasted wheat bread. I couldn’t finish the whole sandwich, but I did use my fork to eat all the turkey. It tasted very fresh to me, and I didn’t want to leave any behind. The chowder was excellent, too — thick with potatoes and fish and lightly seasoned, and perfect on a chilly spring day.

The fries were the least memorable part of the meal. They were a little cold and felt like an afterthought.

There were other sandwich choices. The pulled pork sandwich, which I have ordered before, is excellent, if a bit messy. The corned beef Reuben temped me, as did the cracked pepper burger.

The atmosphere is old-school, with brick walls and a fantastic copper bar that has weathered well. The bar seating is comfortable and welcoming.

 

My servers were friendly and efficient. I say servers, plural, because two people waited on me. One woman greeted me and placed my order, and another took over from there, delivering the food and check. During the course of my lunch, the original server had to deal with what I perceived to be a personal emergency, involving tears. Everything worked out fine, from my perspective. I was in and out in less than 30 minutes, and enjoyed what I considered to be a reliable lunch at a reasonable price.

ROCK HARBOR PUB & BREWERY

WHERE: 416 Main St., Rockland
INFO: (207) 593-7488 or rockharborbrewing.com
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
WAIT: 15 minutes
PARKING: On the street
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

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