OLD TOWN — Delicious food and local history merge at the BoomHouse, a new restaurant that opened Jan. 1 at 170 Main St.
Add the restaurant’s relaxing atmosphere and scenic location, and owners Matt Duque and Luke Duplessis have a hit on their hands.
Friends since they grew up together in the Old Town school system, Duque and Duplessis combined their talents to create the BoomHouse, located in the former Chocolate Grille. Duplessis, who attended the University of Maine, has owned the popular Mainely Brews in Waterville since 2003. Duque studied culinary arts at Atlantic Culinary Academy.
The owners envisioned opening “a family restaurant,” Duplessis said while seated at a BoomHouse table on a sunny winter’s morning. The restaurant overlooks the Penobscot River, which, bolstered by recent rains and snow melt, poured over the Milford Dam and swept through the island-sprinkled channel between Old Town and Milford. Sunlight sparkled on the fast-flowing river.
Sawmills once spread where the BoomHouse and an adjacent public park now stand, according to Duplessis, and the restaurant’s décor reflects “the old river logging days,” he said.
“This whole river here was full of logs” during the spring log drives, Duplessis said. “North of here was Pea Cove. It was the central hub where most of the [log] sorting started. They had the Pea Cove Boom and the Argyle Boom.” Both were actual booms extended across the Penobscot River to corral logs and keep them from escaping downriver.
Matt and his father, Joe Duque; Luke and his father, Al Duplessis; and volunteer Tom Gasaway extensively remodeled the restaurant before it opened. They installed pine walls that lends the interior the appearance of a rustic Maine camp. Spread across the walls are logging-related tools and artifacts, including crosscut saws, axes, frying pans (recalling a woods’ camp kitchen), horseshoes, and rotary saw blades donated by Quality Saw & Supply in Enfield.
The décor features one-of-a-kind details:
• Illuminating one restaurant section is a Gasaway-crafted chandelier made from a rotary saw blade, a peavey, and mason jars, that last utilized as light covers;
• Matching curved tree trunks frame a 350-pound rotary saw blade mounted inside the front entrance;
• To the right stands a half canoe, into which Gasaway fit a cabinet that serves as the BoomHouse gift shop;
• Above two booths hangs an old, restored wooden canoe;
• Enlarged photographs provided by the Old Town Museum. The photos depict local life from a long-ago era.
The bar can seat 50 people, the dining area can accommodate another 140 people — and everyone can enjoy the “upscale, gastro-style pub menu. That’s the food style,” Duplessis said.
The menu includes appetizers, sandwiches and wraps, entrees, specialty burgers, and “Dam Good Burgers” (the name playing off the nearby dam) made from Angus beef, chicken breast, or vegetable burger. The BoomHouse Burger offers 8 ounces of hamburger stuffed with American cheese and topped with bacon, and an onion ring.
The names of many menu items play off the restaurant’s log-drive theme. For example, appetizers include Pea Cove Nachos, Bucksaw Tenders, a Mexico Boom Quesadilla, Poutine (a French-Canadian specialty found in most woods camps), Block Cut Tuna, BoomHouse Scatter (chicken tenders), and Mozzarella Logs.
The sandwiches and wraps feature The Walking Boss (shaved Angus beef heaped with several toppings), The Cribworks (a grilled or fried chicken breast tossed in buffalo sauce and offered with various toppings), French Island Dip (featuring Angus beef), and Pick Pole Tuna (a 6-ounce yellow fin tuna steak). A lobster roll, a pulled pork sandwich, and a B.L.A.T. (bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato) are among the other sandwiches and wraps.
Entrees range from Fried Maine Clams and Wild Mushroom Beef Tips to Side-Hill Salmon (8 ounces of fresh salmon), BoomHouse Ribs, Chicken Marsala, Fish ‘n Chips, and Boom Crew Strip (a 12-ounce Angus beef steak).
The BoomHouse also offers calzones, pizzas, soups, and salads.
“We’re trying to give everybody a great food experience,” Duplessis said. “All the food starts from scratch. Matt does wonders in the kitchen; he has been cooking for 20 years. He is the best chef I’ve ever met; whatever he makes is going to be good.”
Although the BoomHouse will not hold an official grand opening until spring, business “has been really good,” Duplessis said. “We’ve had a really good response so far.
“People from all over are curious to see what we’ve done with the place,” he said.
The BoomHouse is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Monday-Thursday, and 11 a.m. until close, Friday and Saturday. The restaurant serves dinner until 11 p.m., Sunday.
For more information, call 817-8018, email email@example.com, log onto boomhouserestaurant.com, or follow the restaurant on Facebook.