A new fine dining place with a pulse has popped up in Portland, Maine called Crooners & Cocktails. Named after a compilation jazz album that owners Christopher Harris and Rick DaSilva were listening to last year, Crooners & Cocktails has a unique vibe on it’s own. You notice immediately when seeing it when walking down Exchange Street and think it’s a bit more fancy than your normal peninsula eatery. Walking into the restaurant is like walking into a scene from Godfathers, Mad Men, and Good Fellas all in one.
Owners Chris and Rick have been working together since 2002 when they were both managers for Mercury Martini Bar, located where Marks Place on Fore Street is currently. They broke sales records numerous times at Mercury. After that, they both continued in the restaurant/bar scene and ended up working together at Bull Feeney’s (located on Fore Street) these past few years. It was around November that they both decided to open Crooners & Cocktails.
Walking into the restaurant you notice that everything has a touch of detail added to it. All the way from the silverware to the tablecloths, owner Chris said they had to measure absolutely everything. The space they have to work with on Exchange Street is very limited and therefor needed precise planning. In fact, their capacity is 39 people and they seat 39 people. The TVs are de-saturated on purpose to have only black-and-white programming.
Crooners is extremely themed to have a 50’s supper club atmosphere. The cocktails are all tailored to be the famous 50’s stars like Frank Sinatra’s Nectar of the Gods and Dean Martin’s Flame of Love for example. Crooners was the first establishment in Maine to get the Sinatra Select Jack Daniels. The wine selection is very solid “a cocktail lover’s wine menu,” says Chris. Their food is also a thing of beauty.
I walked in at the perfect time. Every two weeks Crooners & Cocktails changes their menu to reflect what’s in season. When I got there they were just sampling all the new dishes for the next two weeks. Their dishes are high end with a splash of simplicity and classic. They make their own sauces, sausages, pasta, etc. The only thing they don’t make themselves is the bread which comes from Standard Bakery. Every other piece of food they try to get from local sources. Primary chefs Andrew Rivera-Myers and Jason Daly seem to have a creative spark to their culinary skills to come up with simple yet delicious dishes every two weeks.
Crooners & Cocktails has a happy hour from 4-6PM and a late night happy hour from 11PM-1AM. Rick was telling me how they serve food until absolutely 1AM. If you come in at 12:55AM, you will still be able to order their toasted banana bread pudding served with creme fraiche ice cream and smoked nuts (pictured above).