The first annual Paper City Pub Crawl in Westbrook was successful in the sense that I survived to write about it. As for attendance, let's just say a good time was had by all, um, two of us.
The night started at 6:45p when my friend Walter and I walked down Seavey Street to Mill Side Tavern. The crowd inside the bar was light, but heavily clad in flannel mackinaw coats. We each got a drink, Walter a Bud Light, and me a shot of whiskey from the "lowest shelf you have." The bartender obliged with a glass of Senator's Club. After we got our drinks, we hopped onto the unattended pool table.
Forty-five minutes and two games of 2v2 pool later, we were having a grand time. All irony aside, Mill Side Tavern was probably the most enjoyable experience of the night. I learned that I broke the rack "like a girl;" my pool partner, a Mill Side regular, dispensed the sageful advice that the most effective way to piss off my old lady was to always give into her and never fight back; and my fellow Pub Crawler and I shared edible shots. The shot glasses are made of chocolate and are about the size of medium-sized thimbles. Frankly, it's a bit of a rip-off, but at least I can tell my grandkids that I had an edible shot of Bailey's at Mill Side Tavern when I was young and wild. As for Walter, a few of the bar maids (who were very friendly, by the way) convinced him to forgo the Bud Light filling in favor of strawberry-flavored vodka. Good idea.
After a cold walk (this will be common theme, so I'll try to vary the way I phrase it) from Mill Side to Stockhouse via the old Portland & Rochester Railroad, we settled into a table at the restaurant. I felt a hint of culture shock when we first got into Stockhouse. We had just come from a cozy tavern with a fluid social space to a relatively sprawling and rigid restaurant in which each table is more like its own island than a place to merely park your drink or plate. We had appetizers, but left after a relatively unremarkable hour. Stockhouse is a better bar in, say, July or August than it is in January.
We hopped onto the railroad again after crossing Main Street (note to self: invest in one of those railroad handcars for the next crawl) en route to Skybox bar on Brown Street. The air was sharp, the railroad was caked with crusty snow, and a decision loomed ahead of us: Do we slide down the hill before we get to the Black Bridge and cross the Presumpscot via the metal footbridge, or do we cross the bridge and crawl down the hill onto Brown Street? We were feeling adventurus (or stupid, or influenced, or whatever other curse you prefer) and gingerly walked across the top of the bridge with black sky over our heads and black water below our feet.
Skybox was d-e-a-d, so we left after about thirty minutes. We did witness a man and woman outside threaten to shoot each other, though, so that was mildly entertaining. Oh well, Skybox's loss would be The Frog and Turtle's gain (we aren't egotistical or anything) because we would now able to squeeze in a visit to that heralded hot spot before ending our night at Profenno's.
Since it was a Friday night between 9 and 11p, The F&T offered a spot to cool our heels with live music. After enduring a half-hour of thumping in the dj'd Skybox, musician Tom Dee's mellow melodies were a welcome respite, as was the bar's laid-back atmosphere. Walter continued on his Bud Light binge, while I had my first Beefeater Gibson. I'm not generally a big fan of gin (forget about Moxie being the official beverage of the state, gin's pine-needley palette is the real taste of Maine), but it was actually a good drink. Next up was Profenno's, the bar where every night is a high school reunion.
Profenno's is the happy medium of all the diverse bars in Westbrook. The everyman's bar, if you will. It is there that Mill Side's coziness is complemented by Stockhouse's food menu. You can feel at home with a Budweiser in your mitts like you would at, say, Skybox, but you also wouldn't feel out of place if you were cradling a glass of wine like you were at The F&T. Besides, where else in Westbrook can you rub shoulders with the city's mayor, while also reminiscing about life in The Hamlet with fellow trailer-park alums? And all this while being supervised by a bouncer named Butch.
- John C.L. Morgan