By Dr. Ink
Spiffy, attentive bartenders working behind terrazzo counter tops and twinkling tea lamps make for a loungy bar experience at Great Maple. Even if the dining room behind you is fully occupied with customers biting into pricey French dips and lobster poutine, the atmosphere is conducive for hanging out a while.
But what this charming brasserie-meets-diner lacks is a happy hour that runs longer than one hour to allow enough time to polish off at least two reduced-price beers without rushing. Better yet, it could toss in a few bargain cocktails and noshes to round out the visit.
Then the people would all come flocking for sure.
As it stands, the clock ticks quickly once you begin settling in over $4 draft beers, priced normally at $6.50. There are six brands for the choosing, their handles set among a full range of liquor bottles designated for making enticing cocktails that never come down in price throughout the day.
Great Maple’s limited and under-promoted happy hour is available only at the bar, which runs along the back wall in two separate sections. Our trio snagged a corner area for easy conversation. Comfy stools and purse hooks at your knees indicate that somebody designed this bar with happy hour in mind. But on this particular Sunday, we were among only a few people soaking up the real estate.
Beers are poured in what seems like pint-size glasses. After tasting a couple of samples offered by our dapper, young bartender, my cohorts chose Allagash White and celebrated its reliable creamy finish and fruity undertones.
I chose Old Speckled Hen Black Ale, which has somehow evaded me in several other bars that serve it. Just as the bartender described, the English ale featured all of the robust flavors of porter — chocolate, coffee and smoke — but without the textural richness that oftentimes prevents me from ordering a second one. Time permitting; I could have easily downed three of them at this attractive price.
The lightweight in our group needed sustenance and ended up ordering a quartet of hot, airy popovers from the regular menu. Priced decently at $4, they’re tossed in a bag containing Parmesan cheese and dispensed in front of you into a silver bowl. Beyond those, nibbles such as calamari, lamb meatballs and other drink-worthy items range from $8 to $17. No price breaks there.
Perhaps Great Maple doesn’t need the extra business that other happy hours around town generate, considering the parking lot is usually full on most nights. The beer bargains aren’t mentioned on the web site nor does the staff verbally promote them. But that shouldn’t stop you from whizzing through if you’re craving some affordable foam on your lips.