The Armory – Helping Portlanders Battle Hunger and Thirst

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The Armory in the Portland Regency Hotel has been a popular after work hangout for the Old Port’s 9-5 crowd for quite a while. I’ve been a few times but don’t work in the OP, so it’s not a place I’ve visited regularly and I had never had full meal there before this past weekend. In an effort to get the entire Armory experience, my wife and I went for dinner and drinks to relax after a busy week. The Regency’s lower level lounge is known for their cocktails, and my brief peek at their menu online indicated a pretty typical pub grub offering which sounded appealing.

As is common with a lounge atmosphere, The Armory was relaxed with low lighting and plenty of bar and table seating, including small tables for those who were mainly drinking. When we showed up, it was moderately busy with what was most certainly a lingering post-work crew. The decibel meter registered a little high periodically as drinks had clearly been flowing for a bit and there were a few – possibly tipsy –  patrons enjoying the start of their weekend. We grabbed a full-sized table in anticipation of needing space for the food we would eventually order.

A waitress approached us and my wife and I perused the drink menu seeking a cure for the dreaded workweekitis. As I scanned the cocktail list, which spanned an entire page, I came across a couple drinks that interested me, finally deciding on a Painkiller – Appleton Estate rum, Coco Lopez, pineapple, orange juice, nutmeg. I remembered the lounge well from my last visits and their drinks had always been magnificent. So too was my last Painkiller – ordered elsewhere. I felt that the combination of location and libation might turn out very solid beverage. She ordered a New Harbor Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

I was ready to wage war on my thirst when the drinks slid over to us. The Painkiller looked fruity and fabulous with its orange slice garnish. I sipped my medicine and it was everything I hoped – powerful, freeing, and really tasty. The fru fru fruit followed by a little nutmeg spice already had me feeling better. We causally eyed the food to get some ideas about the offerings, but intended to take some time before ordering. Starters, soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrees made up the menu, with nothing outside of what one might expect from that type of location. I leaned toward the entrees, but then shifted my thoughts toward a sandwich. My wife confirmed that she was eyeing the sandwiches too.

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Some time passed as we drank and spoke of our hopes and dreams. Eventually, those hopes and dreams boiled down to what we wanted to eat that evening. It had been a while since we saw our server, but she returned and we were ready to get started with something to munch on. We hadn’t made our final decisions yet, but agreed to share an order of the Chicken Tenders with honey mustard dipping sauce. There was also a buffalo version available, but I was more in the mood for the honey mustard that night.

More tenders than I expected – maybe eight – showed up after what was probably several minutes. I figured there were nearly enough for Dr. Frankechicken to piece an entire bird back together. I quickly placed one on my plate, cut off a bite, and put it in my chew chew drain. It was seriously crispy on the outside, and just salty enough. Then I dunked a bite in some of the sauce. It was more mustard than honey which was perfect; I don’t like it too sweet. Overall, it was quite good even though the base was brown mustard and as a matter of personal preference, I prefer a spicy dijon. Nonetheless, it didn’t distract from my goal of getting the tenders in the belly.

After we finished with the chicken, we finally figured out what was next in line.  When the waitress made her way back to our table, I ordered the Haddock Sandwich – deep fried fresh haddock filet served with lettuce tomato and tarter sauce on a bulky roll. My wife went with the Maine Crab Melt – fresh Maine crabmeat salad and dill havarti cheese on grilled Italian bread. Both sandwiches came with steak fries. Mrs. Portlandeater also ordered another glass of wine, fearing that maybe The Armory was overstocked on the vino.

We awaited our food while reciting bass lines from our favorite 70’s funk songs. As we started Super Freak, we were pleased to see our sandwiches in front of us. I threw the lettuce and tomato on top of my fried fish. Then I took my bulky roll top and smeared all the tarter on the bottom of it. It was a gloriously unhealthy portion of the mayo mixture and I was primed to consume it. I picked up the sandwich, opened wide, and rocked a bite like I was angry at it. It was good – fresh, flakey, and not heavily seasoned, but perfect with the tarter sauce. Then I scooped up a fry and ate that. They were cooked perfectly and had great crunch. Unfortunately, they weren’t fresh cut which was a little surprising, particularly in this area.

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Despite the fry faux pas, I continued to consume my fish and taters. As I finished, my wife offered me the remainder of her crab melt. A couple bites confirmed a simple, but nicely put together sandwich. There was plenty of crab and the cheese provided the touch needed to pump it up a bit without overpowering the shellfish flavor. I finished all the food that was left at our table and we decided to review the dessert menu because it was the right thing to do even though it probably wouldn’t result in us actually ordering any.

With a quick scan, we confirmed the sweets selection had nothing in store for us and requested our bill which came to a very reasonable $65 before tip. My drink was excellent as had been my previous drinks there. The food was good, but they should definitely cut their own fries. It’s expected in Portland and regardless of that, it’s a minor change that would create for a major improvement. Still, the Armory is a great place to get some drinks.  And if you’re there to battle the work week and then get hungry, The Armory is a good place to grab a meal for short money too.

Stay hungry.

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