May 2016 | view this story as a .pdf
This new attraction near Highland Lake is a sign of the times.
Review by Diane Hudson
Arriving at Lenny’s, we see the long-dark Hawkes Plaza 13-foot sign suddenly stunning the night with fresh neon, featuring the same legendary TV repairman–toting a lunchbox in place of his tool kit–that has graced this stretch of Route 302 in Westbrook for more than 50 years. The more things stay the same, the more they change.
“I bought a historic sign–the building came with it,” says Bill Umbel of Portland’s former Empire Dine and Dance fame, who bought the property from music legend Al Hawkes. Local guitar hero Lenny Breau recorded on Hawkes’s Event Records label at this very site. Breau went on to fame in 1960s and 1970s as a genre-crossing guitar stylist and protégé of Chet Atkins. Breau’s mysterious murder in Los Angeles in 1984 at age 43 remains unsolved.
Lenny’s boasts a generous 30-foot bar, dining space for 75, and a performance stage. Brews include Rising Tide, Allagash, Baxter, Geary’s, and Foundation ($3-$6.50). We begin with our newest fave, the hoppy Baxter Stowaway IPA draft ($5).
Starters range from Devilish Eggs ($7) to Classic Wings ($10) to Artichoke & Spinach Dip–with artichoke hearts, spinach, garlic, parmesan and asiago cheese, warm with crostini ($10). The Tortilla Chips and Guacamole are $8.
We begin with “The Wedge” ($7), fresh iceberg lettuce triangulated and sprinkled with very fine bacon crumbles, blue cheese, delightful pickled red onions, good quality cherry tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts. I order a side of luscious blue cheese dressing.
The kitchen’s out of the Smokey Bacon Corn Chowder, but the replacement Roasted Cauliflower ($5) is delicious. The Lenny’s Burger ($10) is just right–medium rare, eight ounces of sweet, tender beef with lettuce, onion, cheese, and tomato on a gloriously grilled challah bun. Sides are a choice of french fries, potato salad, coleslaw, or house pickles and onions.
It doesn’t get much better than my exquisite grilled salmon ($17) with lemon, tarragon, and mustard sauce. A harmony of sweet and savory, its flavors are nicely balanced with garlic mashed potatoes and succulent sautéed fresh spinach leaves.
Full of music memorabilia, Lenny’s is like its namesake, blending the best and doing something new, lively, and not easily categorized. It calls to summer traffic, just like the sign. Tonight, Al Hawkes himself (now 84) is here in his big red cowboy hat. Happy trails.
Lennys, 1274 R. 302, Westbrook. Wed.-Sat., 3:30-10 p.m. liveatlennys.com 591-08117
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