Down East 2013 ©
The ground floor of Mill 6 in Lewiston is a story of a tasty transformation. Originally a storage area for the Bates Manufacturing Co., it was constructed in 1890. One hundred years later, it and the entire 1.2 million-square-foot Bates Mill Complex had fallen into disrepair.
You wouldn’t know it stepping into the industrial chic space that is Fish Bones American Grill. Its success, and that of the other businesses that have occupied renovated parts of the mill, proves that Maine’s former mill towns have much to look forward to.
Fish Bones opened in the fall of 2005, after owners Paul and Kate Landry (above), of Mac’s Grill, a steakhouse across the river in Auburn, worked with the mill’s developers, Platz and Associates, to turn this nineteenth-century space into a modern dining destination. Paul Landry, also the head chef, views Fish Bones’ use of the 4,725 square foot mill space as a promising model for Maine: “A lot of are spending time revisiting these old structures because they have a lot of character.”
Fish Bones is indeed pleasing to the eyes. A large, comfortable full-service bar and lounge area opens into an adjacent dining room replete with wood, brick, and colorful artwork. The trendy, intellectual atmosphere — the restaurant is usually packed with a combination of locals, students, and business professionals — underscores the college town locale, though the vibe remains decidedly unpretentious.
The lounge is a stellar spot to gather with friends over playful cocktails and satisfying appetizers — the flatbreads and lobster rangoons (above) prove particularly delectable. The larger menu emphasizes American cuisine with a heavy slant towards seafood and offers diners an assortment of small and large plates. Two of the restaurant’s most popular dishes include a healthier version of fish and chips and the seared tuna sashimi. The varied menu accommodates for Lewiston’s array of tastes, offering everything from traditional fare, like the Angus beef medallions, to trendier dishes such as the sea scallops with butternut squash risotto and wild Maine blueberries.
But Fish Bones is careful to also cater to a broader Twin City base, those patrons who might opt for pizza over pâté — it offers sandwiches, wraps, and signature flatbreads at lunch (take-out, too). For the school year, September through May, the restaurant serves Sunday brunch.
Still, Fish Bones’ culinary creativity and sophistication separates it from the typically more casual fare that dominates the food scene of Lewiston-Auburn. “A lot of people were looking for a little bit of an upscale experience,” says owner and front-of-the-house manager Kate Landry. “Everyone was driving to the Old Port. So we wanted to create an opportunity for locals to stay at home and still have the same experience.”
Between Fish Bones and its younger Lisbon Street counterpart Fuel it’s time for those in the Old Port to take a drive up the Androscoggin for a bite.
Fish Bones American Grill, 70 Lincoln Street, Suite 100, Lewiston. Hours are Tuesday to Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday & Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and brunch on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 207-333-3663. www.fishbonesag.com