Ben Hodgetts grew up in Maine—"kindergarten to college"—but after seven years at Matt's in the Market (three tending bar, four as the wine director) it's fair to say he's got some Northwest bona fides as well. Now Hodgetts is opening his own spot in the new 400 Fairview building, a 45-seat watering hole called Bar Harbor that pairs seafood specialties of his native state with local favorites.
The idea for Bar Harbor (its full name: Bar Harbor FinestKind Provisions references an old lobstering phrase) began mostly as a wine and beer retail shop, a place with coolers of Northwest beer and natural wines for takeaway. Over time the plan evolved into a bicoastal raw bar with a massive satellite deck.
No surprise, Bar Harbor will serve lobster rolls, and Hodgetts has strong feelings about what makes a good one. He's looking for a local baker that can produce the proper bread—flat-sided, not overly crusty, and absorbent enough to soak up butter. "If it's not a split top, soft white New England–style roll," he says, "then it's just kind of a lobster sandwich." He's also planning a Northwest version, made with Dungeness crab, and a few chowders, including the classic New England clam.
Beyond that, much of Bar Harbor's sustenance will come from the raw bar, where Hodgetts plans to have brinier East Coast oysters like Wellfleets or Maine's own Pemaquids or Winter Points alongside familiar West Coast varieties. Hodgetts dismisses the popular notion that people can only like one geographic style of oyster, but I'm already looking forward to sampling the two coasts side by side. Chef Lindsey Hayter, previously the sous chef at Matt's, will create a lineup of crudos, tartare, pickles, and charcuterie.
The bar's main space will have a full slate of cocktails and a subtle lobster shack theme, says Hodgetts, without being too overt about it: "We definitely won't have nets hanging on the wall." A nearby covered patio will be known as "the back deck." Here Hodgetts will run what he describes as a beer window, though it will also dispense a few wines by the glass (always including rose) and freshly shucked oysters.
By day this space is open to anyone, and you can bring food from 400 Fairview's other occupants, like Meat and Bread or Standard Bakery or Juicy Cafe. In the evening, the beer window opens and the deck becomes a spinoff of Bar Harbor.
Bar Harbor is slated to open around the first week of June. These timelines are subject to change, but plan on that back deck being a summertime staple in SLU. Follow Hodgetts' progress on Instagram and via Bar Harbor's website.