Video of the Jessica Prouty Band Playing @ Bray's July 12th in the Biergarten!
Bray's is giving other brewpubs dining goals to shoot for
Taste & Tell review from the Maine Sunday Telegram - June 8, 2003.
In sharp contrast to much of the low, boxy franchise retail architecture lining Route 302 north to Naples stands Bray's Brewpub, tall and Victorian.
Michael Bray took possession of the big, 120-year-old mansard-roofed inn in 1995 and began the microbrewery and pub to go with it. Their mild. tasty, barrel-brewed Pleasant Mountain Porter, Brandy Pond Blonde ale, and Old Church, Orien Oatmeal and India pale ales and aother brews are served on tap in the lively bar on the first floor, where there are also tables,nd upstairs in the dining rooms.
The premises have the lived-in look of a popular, casual spot, and it was quite busy the night we visited. We were led up a steep, narrow staircase to a bright room with original plank floors. Tables were set with plastic protection over tablecloths; napkins were cloth.
Our waitress suggested a wooden tasting board holding five tiny tasting glasses to sample a selection of the Bray's unfiltered brews while we considered the menu. This was a good idea, and we found upon comparison that we liked the Old Church pale ale best. The tasting board is $1 per sample; 12-ounce glasses are $2.50, and pints $3.25.
There are soups, chowder and chili (from $2.95 a cup) and a selection of vegetarian and meaty nachos (from $7.95) among the appetizers on the regular dinner menu as well as a number of salads and other things like mussels with sausage steamed in Bray's ale ($7.95).
We began with a "Mighty Greek" salad that consisted of good mixed young lettuces with pieces of roasted red pepper, kalamata olives, red onion rings and a good deal of indifferent feta cheese ($6.95). Per the menu, there were no cucumbers or tomatoes, which might have made things a little mightier. The dressing, served in a little plastic tub, was described as balsamic vinaigrette but appeared to be balsamic vinegar and little else.
Maine crab cakes had a lot more personality. Two crispy, crumb-coated cakes of crab with mild filler were presented on a bit of lettuce with a peppy Thai chili and garlic mayonaise ($8.95) that we could not stay away from.
The Buffalo chicken wings were just OK. Half a dozen uncut wings of quite decent chicken were coated in a very thick, orange, Tabasco-based sauce and served with a few requisite carrot and celery sticks and lamentably bland blue cheese dressing ($6.95). The sauce itself was quite spicy and hot, which was fine, although it was too salty. Cutting the wings into single joints became a sauce-slathered project calling for paper napkin backup.
Bray's serves a pub menu alongside the dinner entrées. Pub food includes fish and chips ($10.95), pork ribs with barbeque sauce ($9.95), burgers ($6.95), a vegetarian burger ($5.95) and other sandwiches including pulled pork, fried chicken breast and lobster rolls (from $6.95).
The entrées are ambitious and varied. There are scallops with crabmeat, wine sauce and crumb topping ($13.95), grilled salmon with mango macadamia butter ($12.95), and a mixed grill of barbequed ribs, sausage and marinated swordfish skewer ($12.95). There are dinner pastas such as jumbo shrimp and mushrooms on linguine ($14.95), and scallops, shrimp and mussels in an Italian toss of roasted red peppers, olives and garlic on linguine ($15.95). We spotted this latter pasta creation heading for another table and it looked wonderful.
Bray's has a nice wine list, too, of about 20 different bottles from the U.S. West Coast, Italy, France, Australia and New Zealand. Sixteen of these are available by the glass. We enjoyed a glass of Fess Parker pinot noir ($6.50) and Edmeades zinfandel ($5.95), two very dependable California reds.
From the pub menu we chose a sausage platter that intrigued us because it promised a daily selection of specialty sausages steamed in Bray's ale ($7.95). This was a carnivore's sturdy pub meal as it turned out, with hot Italian, fresh lamb and beef, and sweet Italian sausages, all tender and steaming. They sat on a pan-browned hash of diced, sautéed red-skinned potatoes with a bit of roasted red pepper, flanked by a side of sauerkraut. The accompanying mustard was good.
The highlight of the dinner was the rack-of-lamb special. Eight ribs, cut into four double-chop pieces after grilling, had a mustard-crumb coating. They were tender and just-right medium rare. Sides of roasted whole new potatoes and a crisp stir-fry of fresh snow peas and mushrooms were hot and nice. At $16.95, this was a good deal.
Service the night we visited was friendly if a bit spotty. Our waitress seemed preoccupied. She was minimally communicative about the description of -- or any personal preferences for -- the dishes we asked about, and she came and went unpredictably, but she got the job done.
Some of the deserts are made in-house; cheesecake and carrot cake are made elsewhere by someone named Josh, who is credited on the menu. We were told that the home-made tiramisu and chocolate silk torte were popular (each $4.95), but we opted for homemade apple pie ($3.95). It was very tasty, with a delicate flaky crust and flavorful apples that had been expertly sweetened with restraint, but it was served fridge-cold. This was nothing short of sabotage of hard work and good pie.
Bray's has a bright, funky personality and an affordable, eclectic menu that works for grazing or for full meals. Non-meat eaters are much better served here than at most pubs. And how often do you find a brewpub in a Victorian inn? Our dinner for two was $80.95.
Audience welcomes letters from Taste & Tell Readers. Letters should be fewer than 200 words and include full name, address and a telephone number. All letters may be edited. Address letters to Linda Fullerton, managing editor, features, Maine Sunday Telegram, P.O. Box 1460, Portland, 04104; email: email@example.com
"Maine's Best-Kept Secret", an article by Baton Rouge-based writer, Jennifer Moses, appeared in the August 2002 issue of Bon Appétit. In her article, Ms. Moses recounts the events of her most recent vacation to the Lakes Region of Maine. After an afternoon of antiquing in the area, she writes, "All that browsing and bargaining can be hard work, though, so we took refuge across the street, with a sampler of locally brewed ales
at Bray's Brewpub & Eatery, a microbrewery and restaurant located in a big old Victorian house."
Ms. Moses travelled extensively in the Lakes Region during her recent stay in Maine, visiting restaurants, inns, resorts and antique shops from South Casco to Fryeburg to South Paris and everywhere in between. While she clearly enjoyed culinary delights from many establishments, she mentioned only one Naples restaurant in her article, and that would be Bray's Brew Pub & Eatery.
Jennifer Moses' most recent book (a memoir-with-recipes) is Food and Whine: Confessions of a New Millenium Mom.
Photography: Wyatt Counts
Skiing in Maine: Raise a mug to brew pubs at the base
By JOSH CHRISTIE
There's no question that most skiers and snowboarders are big fans of beer. Blame it on the sport's European heritage. Or blame it on the relaxing qualities of imbibing after hours in the cold fueled only by adrenaline, or even on the legendary social nature of skiers and snowboarders. Whatever the reason, ski areas from Maine to California have brew pubs by their base lodges. Here in Maine, we've got two that are practically on-hill -- the Bag and Kettle and the Sunday River Brew Pub -- and others that could make an argument for being skier's brau.
The closest brewery-to-mountain pub is the Bag and Kettle, an English-style pub in Sugarloaf's village. There's plenty of room, especially at the multiple-u shaped bar, but the place gets full on weekends. If you're lucky, Uncle Al -- famed member of the Outerspace Band -- will be tending bar. The focus at the Bag is on classic pub food, though things are spiffed up by pizza made with dough from Portland Pie.
There are two things at the Bag and Kettle actually better than the beer, and they're the Bag Burger and cheeseburger soup. The Bag Burger is quite notorious, just voted best burger by Skiing magazine. The cheeseburger soup feels like a heart attack in a bowl.
Brews on regular rotation include an Alpine raspberry ale and a beer brewed with locally roasted Carrabasset Coffee. The pick of the bunch is a malty and earthy Potato Ale, brewed with Maine spuds.
Just slightly farther afield from the slopes is the Sunday River Brew Pub at the end of the resort's access road on Route 2. The pub opened in 1992, when Sunday River was experiencing serious growth and the little brewery boomed right along, growing into a strong enough brand that founder Grant Wilson started another operation, Stone Coast Brewing, in Portland a few years later. Though Stone Coast folded in 2008, Sunday River Brewing still thrives. Super cozy ski-chic, it has a decent menu with everything that screams brew pub.
Bray's Brewpub and Eatery isn't, strictly speaking, at the base of a ski area. However, its location in Naples on the prime thoroughfare between Portland and Shawnee Peak (and the roof racks in the parking lot) suggests Bray's is definitely a skier's bar.
The pub, squeezed into a 125-year-old Victorian farmhouse, probably has more character than all the bars in Portland put together. If you're not one for a quirky layout, there's also an attached beer garden that offers a great space for nearly nightly musical guests.
Bray's is also known for beer dinners, which feature special menus, guest chefs and beer pairings.
Other Maine breweries have courted the ski crowd. The Shipyard Brewing Company, Maine's largest brewery, has established branded restaurants at Sugarloaf and Sunday River. Portland's Gritty McDuff's brews Mt Abram's Red Ale served on a nitrogen tap. First brewed in honor of the Greenwood resort's 50th anniversary, the draft-only beer is now served every season at Mt Abram and in Gritty's pubs. The Gorham-based Sebago Brewing Company brews Saddleback Ale, a light all-malt beer with a label sporting the 2,000 vertical foot ski area.
While this should be painfully obvious to anyone, I will stress one thing: While skiing is great and craft beer is great, the two don't mix. Just as thou shalt not drink and drive, thou shalt not drink and ski.