Sur Lie

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11 Free Street, Portland, Maine

Ask around about Sur Lie and you might be met with mixed reviews. Some people love it while others leave with lighter pockets but still hungry. The experience can often vary from visit to visit but we are here to tell you, their happy hour will not disappoint you. It’s a great way to check the place out and save some money while doing so. Your own experience may encourage you to stay for dinner.

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It is important to remember that Sur Lie is a tapas style restaurant so things are generally portioned accordingly. Tapas however are the perfect happy hour snacks. Happy hour there is Tuesday – Saturday from 4-6 pm and specials are only available in the bar and lounge area so be sure to not wander into the dining room if you are looking for the lower prices. It features $2 off the 3 available rotating local drafts, 2 selections each of a red or white wine, for $7, and a couple of cocktail offerings priced around $8. While these prices are a bit higher than we are used to for happy hour they do represent $1-$2 off what the drinks would normally cost. While we were there the bar was pretty quiet so we decided to make our bartenders work and order up some cocktails. The Relax Don’t Do It (Tito’s vodka, cappelletti aperitivo, hibiscus grapefruit sherbet, lime, and soda) and the Bootlegger (Dickel white whiskey, tamarind, lemon and smoked tea bitters) were really delicious. If they sound up your alley, give them a try!

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There are also a few food specials which is very welcome when enjoying such stiff drinks. We ordered up the sweet pea hummus and the fried potato wedges. ┬áThe hummus was the clear winner. Fresh and lightly lemony it is enhanced by the addition of mint oil. It is seriously good. Don’t miss it. The potato wedges were fine. Nice and crispy with good seasoning. The problem was with the aleppo aioli. Maybe the batch we got was missing the peppers? It quite literally tasted like nothing. Aleppo peppers are a moderate chili but this had no heat whatsoever. It was fine, but a little spice would have elevated the wedges considerably.

 

Overall happy hour at Sur Lie was great! Good drinks served up by friendly and attentive bartenders paired with tasty food will always win us over. The prices might keep it out of the regular rotation but when we want a bit of a treat we will definitely be back. The sweet pea hummus alone would pull us back in! Seriously, get it.

Abilene

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539 Deering Avenue, Portland, Maine

Just a few steps off Woodfords Square in Portland you’ll find a bright new offering on Portland’s restaurant scene, Abilene. Offering up delicious food in a relaxed, comfortable setting happy hour at Abilene is almost like hanging out at a friends house.

Open Wednesday – Sunday, Abilene is a cozy spot to grab a bite to eat. Wednesday – Friday they feature happy hour specials from 4-6pm which is a great way to stop in and try what they have to offer. Specials include $1 off all beers, $4 house wines, $5 appetizers and a special cocktail of the day. They really have something for everyone. There’s seating at the bar or a few tables about. It’s a low key place to it’s great for meeting up with friends or family or even taking business associates.

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While the setting may be relaxed they don’t slouch one the food or drink offerings. The day we visited┬áthe $5 appetizers included BBQ pork sliders, veggie nachos, poutine and sweet potato and asparagus tacos. Portions are generous so a great way to experience a few of these is to share with friends. Everything was exemplary!

 

The drinks at Abilene are also delicious. They feature a great local beer selection as well as quality wines. The special cocktail of the day was a citrus shrub which we all opted for. This was available for $6 with bourbon or $4 for a non-alcoholic version. Shrubs seem to be experiencing a revival in cocktail circles but we hadn’t heard of them before. The bartender explained to us what they were (a fruit vinegar based, sweetened with simple syrup and mixed with alcohol and seltzer). She also mentioned that they could be customized to our spirit preferences. We love a drink that lets us specialize while still saving some cash. While only one of us opted for bourbon, the rest chose vodka, we were all very pleased with our drinks which came garnished with a nice thick slice of a sweet orange. The spirits cut the vinegar well but it was refreshing without being too sweet-sour like sour mix can often be. They were served up in adorable mason jam jars, adding to the homey feel of the place. In fact, we enjoyed them so much that we decided to experiment with our own shrub mixes at home! Who knew something called a shrub could be so tasty?!

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Our experience at Abilene overall was highly enjoyable. It’s located far enough out of town so you can escape the bustle of the peninsula without leaving the city entirely. There’s a number of free on street parking spots nearby which is always a bonus. They are also part of what is becoming a revived neighborhood in Portland and share a sidewalk with one of Portland’s most popular brunch spots. Abilene is definitely worth a visit and inclusion in your happy hour rotation. Have a shrub for us!