Grade: A

I heard of Boomhouse a long while ago from friends who went there to perform, but I had never gone farther than the parking lot until last Thursday afternoon. I went with two friends, neither of which had been before either.

The first thing that caught my eye about the restaurant was the interesting metal sculptures out front: a turtle, a frog and a bird, among others. I remember thinking “that’s strange.”

We expected to be greeted by a person — a host or a server, perhaps — at the door, but instead we were greeted by a sandwich sign that said “please seat yourself.” My friends and I grabbed two menus and rounded the corner to the actual dining room.

Any apprehension I had before this moment melted away as I took in the view of the Penobscot River through wall-to-wall windows. You could see everything — Indian Island, the dam, the bridges — and wow, was it gorgeous on this particular Thursday. We chose a booth by these windows.

Once our server arrived, I asked for Boomhouse’s tap list and ordered Dogfish’s Flesh & Blood IPA. They were out. I asked about a second beer from the tap list. They were out of that, too. My third choice was Rogue’s Pumpkin Patch and when I tasted it, I was glad my first two choices were out. The bartender added a cinnamon and sugar rim which was exactly what I needed on that crisp autumn day.

The menu was colorful and featured some fun Old Town-area themed titles for their dishes. For example, The Sunkhaze and the French Island Soup caught my eye.

I requested half orders of both the poutine and the Pea Cove Nachos. The nachos came with the customer’s choice of beef chili, 3-bean chili, BBQ chicken or pulled pork. I chose the 3-bean chili, but the thought of each of those options easily made my mouth water.

The poutine could have used more gravy, but honestly that’s being nit-picky, because they hit the spot. With my beer and my nachos, I was totally happy and my belly was full of what would definitely be anyone’s (certainly my own) drunchies dream, or at the very least a high-quality hangover meal.

I got so caught up in the crunchy nachos and the melted cheese that I nearly forgot to order my entrée.

After fighting with the menu (which made even the traditional B.L.T. even sound like heaven), I finally chose the coconut haddock sandwich. The menu description of this sandwich was like a much-needed pep talk for the last quarter of my dining experience. The coconut haddock sandwich included a “fresh haddock filet encrusted with sweet coconut, deep fried until golden brown, served with lettuce, tomato, onion and homemade sweet chipotle lime sauce.”

I did a happy dance in my head.

When my meal arrived, I was yet again pleasantly surprised; my sandwich came with fresh and crunchy chips, coleslaw and a tart pickle.

I could only take a few bites (seriously, I devoured those nachos, the 3-bean chili was an awesome choice), but I packed up the remains and took them home with me. I can also add that the sandwich was even delicious when I ate it cold a few hours later.

The haddock was expertly cooked. I’m a coconut fiend and this absolutely satisfied my lust, pairing nicely with the pumpkin patch beer and the creamy and sweet chipotle lime sauce. I really wish Boomhouse would sell me a jar of that sauce at a retail price. I’ve never encountered anything like it and unless I go back to Boomhouse every single day, I will never been happy in a life without this sauce.

Yes, it was that astonishing.

Boomhouse’s prices aren’t too bad, either. With the two appetizers, my beer and my entrée, the total came to a little less than 30 dollars.

My one and only regret is that I did not come at night. The permanent stage in the dining room looks like it can accommodate several different acts that I’m sure I’d find entertaining.

Please go eat a meal (or 100) at the Boomhouse. Every University of Maine student should experience food like this at least once. It’s definitely a gem hidden off the beaten path of Orono and it’s such a short drive to Old Town. Don’t forget to try the Pea Cove Nachos.