When my drinking buddies and I walked into the Three Robbers pub in Bowdoinham on a recent Wednesday evening, every seat in the bar was already taken. But there are several tables with comfortable wooden chairs and/or benches that were available, so we settled in and admired the decor.
Three Robbers nails the cozy neighborhood pub vibe, with music at the perfect level for conversation and hanging items like old rackets, dollar bills, thank you cards, old photos and string lights with dark wood paneled walls. Even though it was packed with locals who clearly knew each other, no one blinked or even looked at us when we walked in – everyone was too busy having a good time. Soon we were too.
Within minutes of being seated, the only server was at our table. The pub doesn’t have a cocktail menu, but has a full bar and makes several infused liquors on-site. I decided to try the banana-orange-strawberry infused vodka, which I mixed with orange juice for a twist of a screwdriver ($9.50). I later learned that when the Three Robbers Pub opened in June 2019 it was not allowed to sell alcohol at all and on Sundays it could not even sell beer or wine, thanks to Bowdoinham’s former status as a dry town. A vote in November 2019 changed that, but the main focus (like that of any self-respecting pub) remains beer, especially local beers.
The beer and wine menus are written on a board with no prices, but the beer my drinking mates ordered, a Kolsch from Blaze Brewing Co. in Biddeford, was $9. It was one of eight draft beers on the menu; there were 13 other bottled options, including two ciders. There were also five hard seltzers, a rosé wine by the glass, eight white wines by the glass and eight red wines by the glass.
We hadn’t planned to order food, but then we looked at the menu and saw several delicious plates coming out of the kitchen. Almost everything is homemade, using local ingredients as much as possible. Seeing fried cheese curds with a Dijon maple dip among the entrees, we knew what had to happen. As one of my drinking buddies said, “It’s never a mistake to order fried cheese.” The curds were gorgeous and the appetizer portion was the perfect size for three people to share.
The menu includes traditional pub fare such as burgers, sandwiches and the obligatory fish and chips; on the back it tells the story of the name, based on an 1866 bank robbery in Bowdoinham.
The Three Robbers Pub is co-owned by chef Greg Bernier from Harpswell and bartender Sam Hilling from Glasgow, Scotland, which is why one of my British drinking buddies kept saying, “If I lived here, I’ll be in this pub every night!” Bernier and Hilling had worked together for a long time – as Bernier later told me by e-mail – collecting every penny they had to open the pub. it was just the two of them and another former co-worker doing the dishes, working from day to day for months.Then, of course, the pandemic hit.
Fortunately for all of us, they succeeded. Find an excuse to drive to Bowdoinham or pass through Bowdoinham, and go check it out for yourself – you won’t regret it.
Retired diplomat Angie Bryan writes about Maine’s cocktail bars while doing as many puns as her editor allows.