Nestled in the heart of downtown Bangor at 18 Broad St., Blaze is a visual standout. A small eating area surrounds the entrance, a place I’m sure will be a comfortable lunch spot in the upcoming warmer months.
The inside is cramped, but on a slower night is a cozy place to catch a drink. The two large flat screen TVs permanently fixed on sports stations seem out of place except on game nights. The decor is a mix of exposed brick, deep red and black. It’s certainly more stylish than your average sports bar. The large brick oven is an inviting sight.
Separate from the bar there is a small dining room with a space for live music. This isn’t a place I’d recommend for a first date — if the restaurant is even at half capacity, you’re guaranteed to be in somebody’s way and unable to hear the person sitting across from you. The placement of the bathroom is unfortunate, right next to where the waitstaff tallies up orders, sets up trays and grabs glasses. It’s nearly impossible to use the restroom without feeling like a nuisance.
It’s a vote of confidence in a dish when it’s named after the restaurant that makes it. I decided to try out the Blaze Burger ($14). It’s an oak-fired burger made of grass-fed beef and topped with smoked mozzarella, caramelized onions, stout mustard, Blaze barbecue sauce and a fried duck egg. Sounds delicious, right? It is, if you’re willing to wear a bib. The egg was fried over-easy and soaked the entire burger once the top bun was perched on it. In order to enjoy this burger you’d really have to love mustard as well. I mean love it. The bottom bun was covered in a thick layer of unground mustard seeds that were so potent I tasted nothing else. Between the eggy mess and the bombardment of mustard, I had to ditch the bottom of the burger entirely.
The burger fiasco would have been more easily dealt with if I had more napkins. The waitstaff was great — when they were there, that is. It was a fairly busy evening, but I felt my table was definitely left to fend for itself for large portions of time.
In order to try something a little unique off the menu, I decided to give the scallop tacos ($16) a shot. Stuffed with kimchi, plum salsa and wonton strips, a lot of flavor was packed into each bite. Unfortunately the packaging, relatively bland corn tortillas, tasted almost stale. The scallops were expertly cooked though, seared by a chef who knew what they were doing. If it hadn’t been for the tortillas it would have been excellent.
Each dish I ordered came with a side, so I was presented with both a salad and a cone of duck fat fries. The salad was fresh, generously portioned and topped with a delicious housemade dressing. My other side was unfortunately not as well prepared. The fries would have been delicious, if they had been hot and fresh. My sad cone of house-cut potato fries looked like they were the last of a batch.
For dessert, I chose the blueberry pie gone wild ($7). It was a blueberry, goat cheese and basil-filled dessert with a sugared almond topping, amaretto-blueberry coulis, whipped cream and a fried basil leaf. What sounded delectable on paper and looked great on the plate turned out to be a disappointment. I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps they had meant to warm it and forgot. It tasted as though it had been sitting in a refrigerator for some time, and the textures all blended together so nothing in particular stood out. The sugared almond topping was a lost opportunity for an addition of crunch, and instead absorbed into the other flavors.
Blaze would be a great place to grab a beer and watch a game or catch up with friends. It offers a brunch menu I’d be curious to investigate. But for now, Blaze seems to have some great ideas that just aren’t being brought to their potential.