Henry and Marty, Brunswick
Growing up in Brunswick was fun—I fondly remember playing in the woods, sledding, and riding my bike with friends. We’d eat ice cream at Cote’s, hot dogs from Danny’s on the mall, and candy from the Tontine Mall chocolate shop. After high school I moved away, and although I returned to Maine a few years ago, I haven’t visited my hometown for some time. But as I get off the highway and drive downtown to dine at Henry and Marty Restaurant and Catering, I realize time doesn’t matter—to me, it seems as though nothing has changed. Brunswick feels familiar and comfortable, just like home.
Maybe it’s because I’m feeling nostalgic, but walking into the restaurant is like going to a family friend’s for dinner. The walls are a soft yellow and there’s one red accent wall near the bar. A large framed mirror makes the room appear larger than it is, and burgundy drapes on the ceiling help with the acoustics. One wall is decorated with what looks like painted swirls, but at second glance, I realize it’s not paint—local artist John Bisbee, best known for his forged nail sculptures, uses a branding iron to burn designs into the wall. There’s framed geometric art by local artist Cassie Jones, and handblown light fixtures from Tandem Glass Gallery in Dresden.
Our server Amy knows the menu inside and out, and explains the specials, ingredients, and preparation of the dishes with great detail. The specials—pumpkin swordfish with a julienne of farmers’ market vegetables; locally foraged hedgehog mushrooms in a shallot butter broth; and potato and leek soup with oregano crème fraiche—sound amazing, and I can’t refuse the mushroom dish. It’s warm, hearty, local, and I love it. The corn and crab pancake with jalapeno rémoulade is hearty too—and big enough to share.
With a glass of South African Viognier and a basket of Standard Baking focaccia in front of me, I’m ready for the chef’s nightly preparation of mussels. The broth is made with mirin, scallions, garlic, and gochujang, a Korean hot pepper paste. I brace myself for a spicy sensation, but I’m surprised by a balanced sweetness. The mussels are plentiful and juicy, and before I know it, the bread and most of the broth is gone. Amy tells us that the kitchen will prepare the mussels in a classic broth too—with white wine, garlic, shallots, and parsley—if the customer prefers, but I’m happy with my selection.
Owners, chef Aaron Park and manager Paul Hollingsworth, bought the restaurant from Henry and Marty in 2007. In addition to the name, the new owners kept a few of their predecessor’s classic dishes on the menu—pasta with Henry’s red sauce, Cuban shrimp, and seafood linguine—but also highlight Park’s Korean American heritage with the Asian burrito and Korean tacos. The menu highlights seasonal, organic food, and features local farms and products. It’s broken into appetizers, small entrees, entrees, and classics. And, 90 percent of the menu can be made to accommodate a gluten free diet.
The wine options are ample—12 wines by the glass, nine half bottles, 40 full bottles, and eight reserve wines. With the help of Kate, the wine buyer, I decide to splurge on a bottle of 2007 Star Lane, Happy Canyon from Santa Barbara. The blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, syrah, petit verdot, and malbec, makes for a smooth and full-bodied wine.
I order the Korean tacos with braised beef short rib and homemade kimchee, and the roasted delicotta squash stuffed with apple, quinoa, and maple syrup. With golden raisins, currants, pecans, and a drizzle of pistachio oil, the squash is aromatic and filling. I truly appreciate the attention given to vegetarian and gluten free options—even though I’m not vegetarian, there are many creative dishes I want to try.
To end the meal, the warmed gingerbread cake with vanilla ice cream is a perfect autumn dish. The vanilla crème brulee with berries is a classic, and done very well with its velvety smooth texture and perfect sugar crust. Chef Park sends out an individual pumpkin pie with pecans, whipped cream, and cinnamon. Even though I’m bursting, I can’t resist such a beautifully flaky and buttery crust.
Henry and Marty is all about feeding people local, healthy, comforting food. Their motto “food is love” is apparent in every step of service and I feel genuine warmth from the moment I arrive to the time the check is presented. Paul and Aaron treat the staff, the customers, and the food with respect, and it’s palpable. Even if it’s not home to you, Henry and Marty is reason enough to visit Brunswick.
61 Maine St. | Brunswick | 207.721.9141 | henryandmarty.com