Swallow This…I Guess?

A dining review of South Portland’s Easy Day
By Koren Sullivan
Art Major

It seems that I am quite possibly the last person in South Portland to set foot through thedoors of Easy Day restaurant. It’s a 250-seat restaurant, bar and bowling alley…all wrapped up into one. Given Easy Day’s proximity to the Greenbelt and SMCC, it’s a, well…easy spot to meet up with some friends after class.I popped into Easy Day late on a Sunday afternoon, in an attempt to catch the tail endof a Red Sox-Orioles Game and grab a quick bite. Upon entering the restaurant, I was surprised to see how airy and modern it is inside. Looking at the building’s brick facade, you’d never know that inside are huge windows offering an excellent view of Portland and the Fore River. There areTVs everywhere– at the bar, throughout the restaurant and at the ends of the bowling lanes.
The bar area is large and roomy, with plenty of seating, and that’s where we bellied up so we’d have a good view of the game. (Although, there are so many TVs in there, I don’t know how you wouldn’t have a good view.) As it turned out, a couple of friends were sitting directly next to us, so we chatted with them for a moment and the bartender came by for our drink order. After a few minutes, our beverages appeared– though she never did ask if we wanted to eat anything. Twenty minutes after our arrival, I finally asked to see a menu. (I’m taking a point off my imaginary service scale for the oversight… and minus -1 atmosphere point for the weird, rubber smell drifting from the bowling alley.)
Easy Day’s menu is pretty typical American pub fare. Nothing gourmet here, though not for lack of trying. On the apps menu, you’ll find fresh, steamed mussels with chorizo ($12) and a crispy parmesan risotto cake ($8). There’s also the usual pub stuff: nachos ($11), wings (sm. $7/lg. $13), loaded potato skins ($9). There’s also a $12 hummus platter. Now, listen, I’m kind of a hippie, but I’m not spending $12 on hummus, dude. In the end, I chose the Easy Day Nachos.
Ordering nachos at a restaurant is kind of my way of deciding how good the place is. You take the most basic, simple dish and see how they approach it. I guess nachos are the constant in my restaurant “science” experiments. So, these nachos: they were kinda weird. They arrived on a metal pizza pan… the cheese was a house-made sauce of “alfredo, cheddar & ale sauce”. I don’t know what I thought that would mean, but whatever I thought… this wasn’t it. My nachos were a goopy mess and totally reminded me of the ones you’d get if you ordered at the Happy Wheels skate center snack bar when you were a kid. ‘Cept with an ale aftertaste. There were also pepperoncinis (normally I love ‘em, but they just didn’t go with this ale-cheese sauce.) Ditto for the Italian sausage. There was supposedly bacon, too, but I don’t recall seeing any. Overall, these nachos were “meh.” And for eleven bucks, I expect more than “meh.” Especially since the nachos I reviewed at Elsmere two weeks ago were only $10, and those ones came with real shredded cheese and tender bits of brisket.
On the other hand, my handsome husband ordered a Buffalo Chicken Wrap that wasn’t available on the dinner menu. (Our bartender gains +1 service point for offering him something from the lunch menu, even though it was past lunch hours.) He requested it with no bleu cheese dressing and no ranch. Usually, this is where things get ugly… my darling has a weird thing about not liking condiments– especially if they’re white. Don’t ask. This means NO mayo, NO sour cream, NO ranch, NO bleu cheese, etc. It’s totally weird, but he is completely serious about it. Somehow, though, servers never quite understand just how serious he is, so they forget to hit the “no white stuff” button. Then when his food arrives, he has to send it back to have the offending white stuff removed. I’m happy to say that, in this case, though, we didn’t have to go through that whole scene. The wrap arrived exactly as he’d ordered. (Phew!)
The final verdict: head here to hang out with friends and get in some bowling. Order the buffalo chicken wrap for six bucks. Or maybe try a chili dog for the same price. TripAdvisor reviewers say that the pizza is great here. Just don’t bother with the nachos.
Bowling by the game is available for $4/adult… Mon-Thursday, 11a-5p only. The rest of the time, you’ll have to pay for the lane at the hourly rate of $30. Adult shoe rentals will set you back $3.50 ea. They advertise live music every Wednesday night. Easy Day is located at 725 Broadway in SoPo. Winter hours (changing soon): Sun-Thurs, 11a-11p, and Fri/Sat from 11a-Midnight. Tel. (207) 200-2226/www.easydaysopo.com

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