November 29, 2012

TRAVELIN' MAINE(RS): SUNDAY MORNING at SEA DOG — Burgers and brews give way to a brunch buffet

George and Linda Smith

The Sea Dog Brewing Company, perched alongside the Androscoggin River in Topsham, is a favorite stop for us (and maybe you, too) for burgers and brews. But if you haven’t tried their Sunday brunch, you will be astonished!

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IF YOU GO . . .

PHONE: 725-0162
HOURS: Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., $3 for a Bloody Mary or a Mimosa. Open for lunch and dinner Monday-Thursday and Sunday 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m.  - 11 p.m., with the pub remaining open until 1 a.m. 
DIRECTIONS: I-295, Exit 31, go east on Route 196 then right onto U.S. Route 201. Bowdoin Mill is on the left, just before you cross the bridge to Brunswick. The restaurant is all the way to the right in Building 1 and has two entrances.


You wouldn’t expect a pub to be crowded on a Sunday morning, but we actually had a short wait for a table when we arrived at 11 a.m. While Lin sat patiently on a bench, I bolted to the end of the large dining room to check out the food and take photos.

Amazing doesn’t begin to describe the array of appetizers, entrees and desserts arranged in a semi-circle and taking up the entire end of the dining room. The brunch menu changes every week as Chef Jess English works to feature fresh produce from Maine farms and likes to be creative.

We continue to eat here because we like their commitment to Maine farms — and, of course, we love their food. At $18, the Sunday buffet is a real bargain. It’s one of the best in the state.

There is so much food, you must dine strategically. I uncharacteristically bypass the sweets and carefully select a few starters, including clam chowder (thick, creamy and nicely salted), flatbread with tomato and cheese (yummy, eaten while I move along in the buffet line) and corned beef hash (based on a previous visit, this remains one of my favorites here, made with Topsham’s Bisson Farm brisket).
By the time I return to our table at the far end of the dining room, our server Ryan has delivered Mimosas — a real bargain at just $3. It’s always tough to bypass my favorite Sea Dog brews, but hey, it’s Sunday morning.

Ryan takes very good care of us, and other staff members do a superb job of keeping all of the food fresh in the buffet line.

It’s not long before I’m back in line, selecting a hand-rolled crepe with pear preserves, cream cheese, honey and a blueberry crème brule sauce. Wow! I skip over to one of the two stations where chefs are standing by, and order a Latimo Taco, spiced roasted pork loin in a flour tortilla with provolone cheese, sauerkraut, tomato, cilantro and avocado — a pretty good list of my favorite things. Delicious.

Conscience already kicking in, I bypass the carved pork steamship round and select some fresh fruit — it adds some nice color to my plate, and where on earth do they get fresh strawberries that taste that good this time of year?

After a breather (during which we visited with Seth Hale, who has managed this Sea Dog since it opened nine years ago), I’m back in line for cornmeal-crusted redfish (crispy, and the rice really added great flavor), bacon, fresh shrimp and cocktail sauce and another made-to-order dish, an omelette with bacon, cheddar and tomato. It was really, really good.

When I return to the table this time, Seth has sent over a sampling of their current “Release Beer,” a special brew that changes every month. This month it’s a Wee Heavy Ale, described as a “hefty Scottish Ale with a beautiful deep garnet color boasting strong malty character.”

It’s fantastic, and packs a punch at 12 percent ABV. They sell it only in 10-ounce glasses, and limit customers to two servings. Smart.

Seth told us that his Sea Dog has been serving brunch since it opened, and is very popular with local people. We talked a bit about local producers he uses, including Pineland Farms for cheeses and the Sausage Kitchen in Lisbon Falls for some meats.

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