Friday, January 24, 2014

Blaze: Craft Beer and Wood Fired Flavors / A review by Hippy Go Lucky Hoops

Left to Right: sweet chili wings, duck fat poutine, oysters, pink g&t, and the beautiful bar

One of my very good friends just returned to Bangor from a semester in Vietnam. To celebrate her return and to get a chance to catch up we decided to meet up for some drinks and a bite to eat at the new spot downtown: Blaze.

Photo courtesy of the Blaze Bangor Facebook Page

Immediately upon entering the restaurant you will notice the beautiful d├ęcor. This place was under renovations for what seemed like forever, and they did a beautiful job. It feels very modern, yet somewhat rustic. Your eye will instantly be caught by the big, bright bar. I've always said that having the bar be the first thing you see when walking into a restaurant is brilliance. Instantly you're thinking about what you want to drink..

I seated myself at the bar and waited for my friend to show up. I pondered over the menu for a moment and noticed a happy hour special. 1/2 price cocktails, 25% off appetizers and oysters on the half shell for $1.25. After confirming with the bartender that I could get these deals, I went ahead and ordered a pink gin and tonic. I am a huge gin fanatic. People often call me an old man for how many G & T's I can put down. It was a bit sweet for my taste, but still very good.

Amy arrives and looks over the drink menu as well. I'm not positive about what she was trying to order, something with special infused alcohols. Unfortunately, the bartender told us they did not have the infusions yet.

We decided to go ahead and split some appetizers. I think the star of the show was the Duck Fat Fries turned into a poutine! Poutine is one of our favorite things to eat in Northern Maine and these were heavenly. We also shared the wings with the sweet chili sauce. Now...I am a huge fan of spicy stuff. But these were absolutely the hottest wings I have ever had! We had to ask for some blue cheese from the bartender to try and control the burning sensation in our mouths. I could hardly eat them. I remembered a tip from Man vs. Food for eating hot wings: pull the meat off with your fingers instead of putting the wings to your mouth and biting. This will spare your lips from the burn. Lastly, we tried some oysters. I'm a huge fan of anything fish, even raw. The oysters came on the half shell, uncooked, with some horseradish and cocktail sauce. They were delicious! I don't know of too many other places (if any) that offer oysters in Bangor. And there is no food poisoning to report so that is also a plus!

Another thing that stands out is the huge draft selection. They have 51 draft beers to choose from, including local options! I really like the focus they put on sustainable, local, quality ingredients.

The only downside to the experience was a little snafu we had with our bill. When the bartender dropped it off, we looked it over and found no discounts for the happy hour specials. When I brought it to her attention, she explained that they were not running happy hour this week as it was their opening week. Normally I would be understanding, but I clarified with her before ordering that I could get those deals, so I felt gipped. She did however make it right and everything seemed fair.

I would recommend checking this place out for yourself. It is beautiful, with a very cool atmosphere. I like to let new places smooth out the kinks before giving them a visit, but overall I had a great experience. I will be taking my parents in for dinner as soon as possible. It is recommended to make a reservation, as I do believe the response to their opening has been pretty huge! I think as long as they can keep the food consistent and the service prompt, they have a recipe for success.

ps. I did see something on the menu about a bloody mary with shrimp cocktail for a garnish. This I can't wait for! I'm thinking brunch some Sunday morning... Stay Tuned.

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