Portland Hunt & Alpine

Portland Hunt and Alpine co-owner Andrew Volk’s concept is simple: “We have food you want to have with drinks, and drinks you want to have with food.” Andrew has owned the Market Street establishment with his wife, Briana Volk, since the fall of 2013.

Recently, the Volks have stepped up the food portion of Hunt and Alpine’s menu and hired chef Stan Dzengelewski. He’s trained in Asian and French techniques having worked at Miyake and Back Bay Grill, and has brought that knowledge to the current Scandinavian-inspired menu, which features simple preparations of meat, fish, and cheeses. What appears to be an ordinary snack of cheese and crackers is far more complex with house-made lavash crackers, small pieces of sweet honeycomb, and shavings of Lakin’s Gorges cheese. The chef’s salmon soup is creamy, full of salmon and fingerling potatoes, and accented with dill and dulse. “The Volks have been incredibly supportive,” says the chef. “They’re all for me pushing boundaries and showcasing my background. It makes for much more interesting food.”

Dzengelewski has created a new weekend menu that will be available from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. “It’s a daytime extension of our regular menu,” says the chef. “We saw a need for an alternative to the standard bar snacks.” There’s nothing standard about the new offerings. The Smörgåsbord is a very generous and varied platter. At one end of the long, wooden board is a fat chewy pretzel and at the other is a deep bowl of tiny Manila clams, steamed and served with a shaving of bottarga and a subtle spritz of absinthe. In between are two open-faced sandwiches, a soft boiled egg with crème fraiche and caviar, pickles, a luscious bowl of rabbit and morel stew, and a frosty shot glass of house-made aquavit, a traditional Scandinavian spirit. “This is exactly what I want to eat all the time,” says the woman sitting next to me. Andrew replies, “That’s our goal.” She’s right. This bountiful spread is so appealing and perfect for sharing with a friend or two.

Of course, the new weekend menu requires new cocktails. “We all wanted weekend drinks that go beyond Bloody Marys and Mimosas,” Briana says. Andrew and bar manager Trey Hughes have concocted several, including my new favorite—the Up and At ‘Em, which is a mix of aquavit flavored with caraway, orange juice, lemon juice, and Cynar. Briana calls the Sugar Shack with light and dark rum, Fernet-Branca, dry curacao, and maple syrup the perfect drink for daytime.

Portland Hunt and Alpine Club is inviting any time of day. The vibe is urban and stylish, and the look is unfussy and contemporary. There’s an L-shaped bar of galvanized metal lined with gray and orange metal stools. Classic Eames chairs are set around communal tables and there’s more bar seating along the big windows. Briana, who is wildly chic and artistic, designed the space herself and drew inspiration from her Finnish heritage. “We just wanted to create a comfortable atmosphere,” Andrew says, “a place where you can meet friends. There’s no single type of customer here. There are a lot of good bars in town, but they happen to be in restaurants. We’re not a restaurant, but we are a bar that serves some really good food.”

Portland Hunt & Alpine Club | 75 Market St. | Portland | 207.747.4754 | huntandalpineclub.com

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