Bird Dog Roadhouse
517 Ocean House Rd., Cape Elizabeth
Editor’s note: Bird Dog Roadhouse has since closed.
As I prepared for this month’s review, I decided to take Mainer’s wider editorial focus to heart and venture outside Portland for my next breakfast. I didn’t make it very far — just a 15-minute drive from my apartment — but I can confirm that there is indeed some excellent food in Maine beyond the borders of Bon Appétit’s 2018 Restaurant City of the Year. I’m not saying food-magazine editors are going to start publishing breathless paeans to Cape Elizabeth, but Bird Dog Roadhouse (BDR) serves up a solid brunch that’s definitely worth checking out.
My wife, daughter and I arrived at BDR on a recent Sunday and were informed that their kitchen was short-staffed (apparently they’d had to fire one of the cooks that morning). As a result, there was a 20-minute wait to sit, followed by another 20-minute wait for food. I wouldn’t hold that against them — they were apologetic and totally up-front about the delay. I just appreciated that the remaining kitchen staff took the time to make the food right, rather than rushing it.
We sipped our drinks while we waited. My Bloody Mary ($9) was pretty good, with plenty of horseradish, though it also needed a good shake of hot sauce to spice it up. My wife ordered a small pot of decaf Earl Grey tea, which was quite good but a little steep (pun intended) at $5.
We started our meal with a plate of ruby-red grapefruit wedges with caramelized sugar ($4). It was a delicious, sweet-tart palate cleanser, though we would have appreciated getting more than a quarter of a grapefruit.
My wife’s avocado toast ($9) was a satisfying and well prepared meal, with excellent rye toast and decadently creamy scrambled eggs. She added feta (+$2), and the briny cheese complemented the richness of the dish nicely.
Being a vegatarian, my daughter had few options to choose from at BDR. She went for a full stack of buttermilk pancakes ($10). The plate-sized cakes were lightly crisp and super fluffy, but a bit bland. Real maple syrup came standard on the side — as it always should, but often doesn’t. She and I also split an order of BDR Potatoes ($4). Smashed, griddled to a crispy golden crust, and aggressively seasoned, these were on par with the spuds at Palace Diner and nearly as good as the hash browns at Dutch’s (regular readers know this is wicked-high praise).
My breakfast pizza ($12) was the best dish of the morning. The thin, lightly charred crust showed that BDR knows how to take full advantage of a wood-fired pizza oven. Smoked ham and fontina cheese provided just the right amount of salty tang. The fried egg on top felt like an afterthought, though, and despite ordering it over-easy, I got a hard-cooked yolk. Still, this pizza was so good that it was easy to overlook its shortcomings.
Overall, we enjoyed our meal at BDR, and I enjoyed that pizza again when I had the leftovers for lunch on Monday. Now that I’ve taken this first step, I’m prepared to venture a little farther from home in search of the best breakfasts our great state has to offer.
Bird Dog Roadhouse serves brunch on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.