Norway Brewing Company
237 Main St., Norway
When I want to go out for brunch, I don’t have to travel far. From my home in Portland, I can easily reach dozens of great restaurants in a matter of minutes. But sometimes I like to get away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown dining scene, and our state has plenty to offer outside Greater Portland. One of my favorite Maine breweries, Norway Brewing Company (NBC), is just an hour away, and also happens to serve a truly road-trip-worthy weekend brunch.
A friend of mine was working at his Oxford County rental property on a recent Saturday morning, and agreed to meet my wife and me at NBC at noon. We scored the last open table in the small, bustling dining room. My wife and I ordered coffee: individual French presses ($1.50) of excellent Coffee By Design decaf and regular, respectively. We also ordered a couple 4 oz. beers to sample ($2-$3.50 each). We especially enjoyed Mr. Short Shorts, a brunch-friendly, low-alcohol “session” version of their popular coffee oatmeal stout, Mr. Grumpypants. My friend opted for a Beermosa ($5 for 12 oz., $6 for 16 oz.), an oddly compelling mixture of pilsner beer, OJ and pineapple juice that took about four sips to go from “this is weird” to “I think I love this.”
The brunch menu changes weekly, so we didn’t know what we’d find until we arrived. Happily, we found plenty to tempt us. For starters, we split a triple stack of light, fluffy pancakes ($8) topped with tart raspberry-blueberry compote and served with maple syrup. In case you’re concerned, the pancakes and beer went really, really well together.
My friend and my wife decided to go halfsies on two dishes. First up, the Veggie Hash ($12): sweet and earthy parsnips, beets, roasted garlic, and sundried tomatoes mixed with diced potatoes, asparagus and scallions. A sprinkling of feta cheese provided some contrasting saltiness, though we would have liked a bit more. The two poached eggs were slightly overdone, but otherwise this was an excellent dish.
The Fried Chicken and Waffle Beni ($14), a creative riff on the now-ubiquitous Southern combo, was unapologetically decadent. Well-seasoned, boneless fried chicken and crisp, malty waffles were topped with poached eggs and velvety, lemony hollandaise sauce. Maple syrup, served on the side, wasn’t strictly necessary, but who’s going to say no to the real thing? As if we needed any more carbs, the benedict also came with a side of crispy home fries tossed in an addictive, sweet-salty-spicy seasoning blend.
I chose The Full Monte Sandwich ($10), herbed French toast stuffed with maple-candied bacon, cheddar cheese, spicy mayo and two perfectly cooked fried eggs. I declined the $2 maple syrup (we already had plenty), but would otherwise recommend the upgrade. I did add French fries ($2), which were super crispy and pour-me-another-beer salty. I ate every bite of the sandwich and every fry.
Is “destination brunch” a thing? It damn well should be. It’s way better than a destination wedding, where you’re obligated to spend your hard-earned money playing spectator to someone else’s happiness. No, I’m talking about a road trip solely rooted in self-interest. And beer. And possibly pancakes. Hop in the car and head to Norway. I promise, it’s worth the drive.
Norway Brewing Company serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.