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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: October 14, 2018

The Quarry Tap Room is just another reason to visit Hallowell

Written by: Bob Keyes

The deck overlooking the Kennebec River. Photos by Bob Keyes

This is a construction story. If you’ve been through Hallowell anytime recently, you know it’s a mess. Water Street is torn up and auto traffic can be challenging.

I drove through a few weeks ago en route to the Maine State Museum and planned to stop at my favorite of all Maine pubs, the Liberal Cup, for a late lunch. But the construction posed a challenge, and I felt lucky to find a parking spot right on Water Street – and right in front of the Quarry Tap Room, which is nearly across the street from the Liberal Cup. I had planned to cross the street on foot, but between the construction and the temptation of a sun-drenched outside patio at the Quarry Tap Room, I opted for the sunny side of the street. I was able to snag an outside table on a warm early-fall afternoon with a decent view of the Kennebec River off on my right.

I was immediately impressed with the beer selection, with several dozen taps and a lot of Maine beers. The waiter was super friendly and efficient, and the food was excellent.

I wished I was here with my wife, who would have gone gaga over the both the beer choices and a fantastic appetizer menu that includes wings (10 for $10), poutine ($8) and fried pickles ($7). Alas, I was alone, so I skipped the apps and went right to the sandwiches.

The beer-battered fried haddock sandwich with sea salt and vinegar fries.

I settled on the beer-battered fried haddock ($14), which came with bacon on a grilled roll. I loved the sandwich for many reasons, but one mostly: the bacon. What a brilliant idea. I am sure I have had it before, but the idea of bacon on a fish sandwich struck me as novel, and it really made the sandwich sing. The crisp bacon added both texture and a salty taste. The haddock was crisp and deeply fried, but not greasy. I also liked the grilled roll and thought it added a nice touch.

My sandwich came with fries. For an extra $3, I could have had a salad or sweet potato fries. I went for the sea salt and vinegar fries, which were solidly average. They were less crispy than I like. But overall, I loved my food and my experience. I was treated well with service that was friendly and efficient, and the food was good. And it’s a nice place. The deck overlooks a lower outside area that includes a stage for bands and games of bean bag toss.

Urinals made of kegs indicate the Quarry Tap Room’s dedicated to beer.

I even appreciated the men’s room, where kegs are fashioned into urinals.

I felt a little disloyal ditching the place across the street but was glad to expand my horizons and add another name to my list of favorite pubs in Maine.

The Quarry Tap Room

WHERE: 122 Water St., Hallowell; (207) 213-6173,
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to midnight daily
WAIT: 10 minutes
PARKING: Street parking, mostly

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