Saturday evening my wife and I found a sitter for the boys and broke free for a couple hours. This doesn’t’ happen very often so we decided to make the most of it and try a restaurant that we’ve never been to before, a few options were tossed around during the week but we settled on Fiddlehead Restaurant in Downtown, Bangor and I called and made a reservation.
Fiddlehead is located at 84 Hammond Street, right next to Bangor Wine and Cheese. You enter through the courtyard into a hallway to the hostess station where we waited to be seated. Entering the bar and dining area you walk past a small kitchen. The bar is to the right, a simple honey colored wood that complements the hardwood floors, the bar back is lined with shelves of spirits and there are no tap towers. Directly across from you is a wall of windows looking out onto Hammond Street, this allows plenty of natural light and after the sun goes down the flickers of street lights and passing cars. The remaining walls are brick with a few pieces of art.
The bar seats eight with plenty of elbow room, the dining area has a dozen or so tables spaced in a way that feels private but not alone. My only complaint is that the room has a lot of hard surfaces and a lively table would make the room loud.
Once seated we were given a drink menu to peruse. I chose a Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin. The beer menu is small but the craft offerings are well rounded and there are a handful of non craft offerings. They have no draft system, the selection is all bottles or cans. My wife selected an Old Fashioned with Maker’s Mark from the cocktail menu. They also have a fine selection of wine and non alcoholic drinks. Fiddlehead struck me as a level playing field when it came to drinks, while cocktails appeared to be a point of pride they had a well rounded drink menu so a group of people with different tastes could find something to suit them.
Drinks arrived and we had decided on our meal. We ordered the thick slab bacon grilled with sweet onion, fresh tomato and sweet barbecue sauce as an appetizer, my instinct was to go with the Fiddlehead Burger for my meal but decided to try something I wouldn’t normally order, instead I chose the lobster grilled cheese with manchego, Fuji apple, tomato emulsion and potato, bacon and pea salad. My wife also took a leap and ordered the pupusas stuffed with pinto beans, with curtido, avocado, El Salvadoran salsa and farmers cheese.
While we waited the waitress brought us cornbread and molasses to much on while we waited, I love cornbread, my wife does not and we both agreed it was excellent. The thick cut bacon arrived at the table split between two plates which was a nice touch and so didn’t the evening’s excitement. As we took our first bites of the appetizer which was amazing, I’d go back to Fiddlehead just for the bacon, the fire alarm went off. As I said before the room could easily get loud, well it did. We didn’t have to leave, if we did it would have been quick because the front of the restaurant has a door directly to the sidewalk on Hammond Street. The fire department came and illuminated the room with flashing red lights while we ate bacon and talked over the fire alarm. The wait staff made rounds and informed us what was happening and the alarm was quickly silenced. I thought it was handled well.
Before the dinner arrived I ordered a second beer, Allagash White, and this is where I was most impressed. The waitress brought the bottle of beer to the table with a snifter glass, she poured a quarter of the bottle, stopped swirled the bottle, poured, stopped and swirled the bottle and finished the pour with a thick frothy head. I’ve never ordered an Allagash White and had it poured correctly for me at the table, it’s obvious the staff is well trained and knowledgeable.
Our meals arrived, my lobster grilled cheese consisted of buttery, toasted bread from Massimos, just up the street, slices of apples and thick chunks of lobster meat held into place by melted cheese, on the side a dish with tomato emulsion and the potato, bacon and pea salad. The sandwich was on point, I’m not a big lobster fan but the flavor worked well with the manchego and touch of sweetness from the sliced apples all tied together with a buttery crunch from the toasted bread. I probably would have eaten a whole bowl of the potato, bacon and pea salad, it was excellent. My wife had the pupusas which are sort of a pan fried biscuit with pinto beans inside, avocado and cheese on top with salsa and slaw on the side. It looked and felt like comfort food, a dish you’d want after a hard day’s work. I had a small bite, it’s all she would allow me to have, so it must have been good.
After the meal was over we took a peek at the dessert menu, it was rich and included a list of after dinner drinks ranging from cocktails to 20 year old ports. I was all set with desserts but my wife couldn’t resist the call of house-made cherry iced cream, I sampled it, excellent ice cream.
Fiddlehead Restaurant is pricey, it’s not a place I’d go out to eat every night but was perfect for date night and I could see myself sitting at the bar and enjoying a cocktail. It’s comfortable, classy, the food is excellent and the ingredients are as locally sourced as possible, while running down the menu they proudly pointed out where ingredients came from, who raised the beef what garden the greens were grown in while being transparent about the items they source from out of state, I think there were two, the jumbo shrimp that their supplier couldn’t provide and a particular cheese that they get from Vermont. So the price you pay is for locally sourced ingredients at a locally owned restaurant. The wait staff was friendly, knowledgeable and truly wanted to be there. You could watch them interact with each other, joking and laughing and giving each other high fives but in a subtle way as to not detract from the dining experience.
If you haven’t checked out Fiddlehead I’d recommend it, for fine dining and drinks, whether it’s a date night like ours or just to get a group of friends together to catch up, Fiddlehead is a great option.