Complex drinks and simple food highlight popular bar

With so many bars and restaurants in Portland, it can be hard to get to any one of them with regularity. However, Bramhall is one of those that I get to somewhat more than most. With an extensive drink menu and a wall of booze, they always have something to suit my mood. However, ordering food is often an afterthought since their food list is relatively small. Still, on my most recent visit, I went there with the intention of eating and drinking.

Once seated at the bar, I went through their list of specialty cocktails looking for the evening’s perfect potable. It wasn’t long before I came across the Ostara – Espolon Reposado, manzanilla sherry, lemon, kaffir lime cordial, Zirbenz Alps Stone Pine Liqueur. Mrs. Portlandeater decided to keep it basic with just a glass of Sauvignon Blanc after considering the possibility of a mixed drink.

Our libations came and we decided to order the Mezze Plate – hummus, whipped feta, baba ghanoush, olives, arugula, pickled veggies, crostini. That would get us started, though we planned to order more once that was done. My drink was really sweet, almost candy-like, with a permeating citrus. It was bold and densely flavored with layers of floral notes and a bit of richness from the sherry. It was a deluxe cocktail that lived in a world of its own – a nice change from the usual tequila elixir.

The mezze came out featuring exactly what the menu said it would. With lots of crostini and plenty of topper, it was of ample size and had nice variety. The were piles of hummus and baba ghanoush and the latter was much better than I was used to, maybe because it had potent garlic overtones. Whipped feta is always a winner and the various veggies added some vinegar to round out the board. It was a strong first course.

With the mezze gone, we definitely needed more sustenance. I was considering a sandwich, but instead decided to go with the Daily Deviled Eggs for some protein and the Wedge Salad – iceberg, blue cheese dressing, bacon – for some pork. She ordered the Veggie Burger – Blue Mango Veggie Burger, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, special sauce, onion roll.

We enjoyed the ambiance of the dark bar for a few minutes before the food arrived. Soaking in our beverages and the mood lighting, we soon had our orders. My three eggs had some pickle slices sticking out of them. My wedge had a massive coating of dressing and bacon. Her burger came with a pile of house seasoned chips which were similar to a typical BBQ style.

I tried the eggs first. They were very good, hitting all the traditional notes, particularly pickle and mustard. The yolk filling was overflowing, producing lots of flavor and a smile. I ate all three and decided they were brilliant. There was something about them that really matched well with my drink too. Like puzzle pieces, it all fit perfectly together.

On my last egg, I was hatching my plan to eat the slice of lettuce and soon I was cutting into it. I hadn’t had a wedge salad in many years, but was excited to try this one. My first bite revealed a straightforward plate. Heavy on both bacon and bleu, it had plenty of what I needed. As I got deeper into it, I realized that the portion of both coatings was just right as I eventually used the overwhelming majority of the dressing.

My wife enjoyed her burger and her house chips were absolutely delicious. We both worked until done and our final bill was 72 bucks after tip. Though my meal turned out to be just a few snacks, everything was really good. My drink was delicious and set the tone for the rest of the night with a much more intricate concoction than I’ve been drinking lately.

Bramhall isn’t always my go-to for a dinner, but when they are, they’ve got what it takes to satisfy. With a bit of a dark, brooding atmosphere set below ground, they create a feeling like few places can. I recommend trying anything that suits your fancy, but be sure to order the Loaded Crisps. I didn’t have them this time, but they’re one of my faves. Regardless of what you eat, you can’t go wrong if you order one of their cocktails. Those will get the party started quickly.

Stay hungry.

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Peter Blanchette

About Peter Blanchette

Peter Peter Portland Eater grew up in Lewiston, Maine and graduated from the University of Maine in Orono with a degree in English. After college, he left the state to work in Massachusetts, but the allure of a more comfortable life in his home state brought him back after eight years. Upon his return and after meeting his now wife ā€“ Mrs. Portlandeater, he slowly integrated himself into the Portland food scene by trying as many restaurants as he could afford. That and a desire to write for others again led him to start where he reviews restaurants and blogs about whatever Portland/Maine food topics he finds interesting.