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Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business for 15 years before turning to journalism. By day, she is the social media editor for Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail or a Maine beer. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or saxelrod@mainetoday.com On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: October 8, 2014

Exclusive preview: Bramhall Pub in Portland opening on Thursday

Written by: Susan Axelrod

The pool tables and dart boards are gone, but the brick walls, stained glass windows and moody vibe of the Bramhall Pub are still very much there in its new incarnation. At 769 Congress St., the old sign still stands outside, showing the way to the stairs leading down to the grotto-like space, which has the feel of a secret find.

Now the bar, with 12 stools, is on your left when you first walk in. Behind it, a piece of old slate serves as a specials board and vintage claw-foot bathtubs are filled with ice to chill beer and wine. There are about 24 more seats at tables.

Mike Fraser, who owns Bramhall Pub with Guy Streitburger, confirmed that Jerks of Grass will play for the opening on Thursday — just as they did every Thursday at the old Bramhall. To make room for the band and possible dancing, a booth seat folds down, another table folds up, and the industrial-style lights are raised. Clearly, a good deal of thought went into the space design.

While they admit that it will attract a crowd right out of the gate, the owners are not interested in Bramhall becoming the next hipster lounge. “We’re really shooting to be the neighborhood place,” said Fraser.

Happy Hour will be from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Employees of Maine Medical Center can show their IDs for extended Happy Hour prices. Most items on the menu will be in the $5 to $10 range, Fraser said.

The chef is Chris Beaulieu, former sous chef at Duckfat, who explained that his burger is made with Archer Angus beef (from Maine) and North Country Smokehouse applewood-smoked bacon, right in the patty. He’s cooking the burgers sous-vide and searing them on a flat top.

The menu is limited for now, said Beaulieu, but soon he’ll be adding a “play on shepherd’s pie and meatloaf” — a ground meat terrine with peas and corn, mashed potato crust and beef gravy. He’ll also make a version of a Cuban sandwich with pork loin cooked sous-vide, bacon jam, fontina cheese and grainy mustard.

Bramhall Pub opens at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9. Beginning on Oct 10 it will be open from 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. daily.

See you there.

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