Lion's Pride Pub, Brunswick
This Belgian beer pub opened last month in a new building on a nondescript stretch of Pleasant St in Brunswick., across from a check cashing place. It's an expansion of a place called Ebenezer's in Lovell, which is out in ski country near Fryeburg. Ebenezer's has an unlikely set of accolades for such an out of the way location so we thought Lion's Pride would be worth checking out.
In short, it definitely is.
On entering the place one is greeted with about thirty taps, many of which bear imported draft Belgian beers that you pretty much can't get anywhere else on draft, and are hard to come by in bottles. The room is casual -- walls are decorated with handpainted murals of beer logos from around the world.
As we sat down, the server brought over the beer menus. Our eyes boggled at the selection, both of taps and bottles, and the very helpful and patient server talked us through our orders -- everyone, even those with pedestrian tastes, ended up with something he or she was quite pleased with. Most of the draft beers are imported from Belgium and are therefore higher priced than a Bud at your corner bar, running $6-8, and are served in the appropriately shaped glasses for their respective styles.
Menu is mid-priced, with sandwiches (named after beers) and apps around $8-10 and entrees $14-22 or so. Four of us got sandwiches, one of which was the Rocheforte, a lamb burger topped with the house-made prune ketchup (tasted like prune-and-tomato, sweet and spicy), roquefort cheese, and fresh spinach. Stellar. All the sandwiches come with really awesome frites, and assorted flavored mayo's including one with tarragon, one combined with the prune ketchup, and a fantastic beer-spiked aioli, our favorite.
Since we were at a Belgian place, I felt obligated to order the mussels and frites. The order came with an enormous pseudo-newspaper cone of the frites. But this was the one disappointment of the meal -- the mussels were steamed in a coconut-lemongrass broth that didn't seem to complement their flavor very well. I sorta get it, because in theory the lemony, coconutty flavor should match nicely with the fruitiness and spiciness of Belgian brews, but to my taste they didn't quite pull it off. Possibly because the mussels were tiny and immature, they were missing the full, savory note that would've brought the flavors together. I would've preferred a simpler do with beer and garlic.
All in all, Lion's Pride is a great addition to the Brunswick restaurant scene. Although there was one disappointment, given the rest of our experience there, we still can't wait to go back.
We went recently. The place is definitely going to be a destination spot for beer lovers (especially Belgian). They told me they will start serving their own beers within three months and hope to really mix the styles up a bit. A very impressive beer selection indeed.
The food, however, is not up to par. We tried the Belgian frites and they were just passable. Though they were served in a cone and the two accompanying aioli sauces were good, the fries weren't crisp or tasty at all. Also tried the sausage platter and thought the sausage (3 beef links) were tasty with the braised onion and potato fritters, yet the mixed veggies were served cold and were too garlicky. That platter would have been even better if served with three different types of sausage, instead of all beef.
I would really like to see this place do well. The fellows running the place seem very knowledgeable about their beer and were very enthusiastic. My main concern is that the place must become a destination spot because most of the locals would prefer a $1 Bud Light over a $7 Belgian ale and the food has to become as first rate as the beer selection.
I too was there last week and was highly impressed. The lamb burger was quite tasty and the beer selection was 35 drafts along with numerous bottles. In two months or so they'll have their own house brewed beers on tap as well. For those who have been to Novare Res in Portland, just imagine a place with actual food, (not small plates) that is much better than pub grub and service that is prompt and knowledgeable. Novare can only aspire to be this good.