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.
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.
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