After making my way through the sprawling 300-year-old Fort Andross in search of Frontier’s dining room, I begin to understand their motto of “going beyond.” What I stumble upon is a multi-faceted experience, complete with a sizeable bar and dining room that is also home to an art gallery and a full-on cinema. I will admit to entering a state of slight sensory overload, so I locate a post at the bar to re-calibrate and assess everything that is going on around me.
The gallery wall, as the bartender tells me, changes regularly, and each night brings a different film or performance in the cinema. On this particular evening there is a spectacle comprised of Frontier’s musically inclined employees showing off their talents. Now that I am caught up to speed, I begin to peruse the multitude of chalkboards in search of something to drink.
Though the wine selection is limited at around 17 bottles, it is incredibly thoughtful and concise, with each choice corresponding appropriately to one of the many styles of cuisine on the menu. I am tempted to decimate a bottle of Thimiopoulos “Young Vines” Xinomavro from Naoussa in Greece, but in the end my craving for beer takes over. This aspect of the drink list is equally interesting, spanning a range of Maine’s more progressive breweries as well as many old world favorites, such as the pleasantly tart Rodenbach Classic Flemish Red Ale. After much consideration, I settle on Marshall Wharf’s Can’t Dog IPA—newly available in cans—which has big, malty notes with subtle tropical fruit and pine flavor and a slightly bitter finish.
The menu at Frontier recently underwent an overhaul, and I’m anxious to check it out. I begin with the soup of the day, delicately spiced chowder loaded with fresh lump crabmeat and sweet corn. The potato is cooked to perfection, imparting an almost velvety texture, and I use the two crostini provided as garnish to soak up every last bit of the broth.
I’m very much comfortable with the vibe at Frontier. It’s equally conducive to large, boisterous crowds as it is to private conversation. In addition to big communal tables, there are many places where one could hide away for a drink before seeing a film. It is also worth noting that patrons are permitted to bring their libations from the bar with them into the theater.
Following a mid-course of the basic Frontier house salad, tossed with an appropriate portion of tangy red wine vinaigrette and ribbons of shaved parmesan and croutons, I take a small break to roam and investigate the gallery. I arrive back at the bar to see that my entree of fish and chips, wrapped up in the prerequisite brown paper cone, is ready to be attacked. A sizeable piece of tender, flaky haddock, battered in rice flour, rests atop a pile of both regular and sweet potato fries, with ample amounts of parsley and lemon wedges to complete the classic equation. What really elevates the whole affair to the next level are the condiments, tartar sauce, and ketchup that have both been augmented with curry powder.
Trust me when I tell you that I am a ketchup purist. I honestly can’t get enough of the straight Heinz variety, and so I am naturally skeptical when anyone dares to alter what is already perfect. In this case, I stand 100 percent corrected. The curry flavor works in perfect harmony with each french fry, as does the tartar sauce with the fish. I eat well beyond being full, not wanting to miss a single, delicious bite.
Initially I decline dessert, but as I sip my coffee I begin to get a little curious as to what my options are. After hearing the verbal presentation, I decide on the amaretto crème brulee, which is as visually appealing as it is tasty. The addition of toasted almonds as garnish enhances the overall texture of the dish quite effectively.
Unfortunately, pulling the trigger on dessert pushes me over the edge, and although I am curious about the employee music show, I find myself giving in to the stronger desire to make my way home for a nightcap. It would appear that I have officially “gone beyond.”
14 Maine St. | Brunswick | 207.725.5222 | explorefrontier.com