When you walk into the now defunct Portland Savings Bank on Exchange Street, which has morphed into a funky local hangout for artists known as Sonny’s, you can almost feel the rich history that surrounded this historic building. While transforming the bank into the now popular restaurant
, you will be able to see how the owners took great care to not only preserve but also celebrate the integrity and history of this property.
Inside, there is a massive bar with an equally massive vault as a tribute to the bank’s history with high ceilings, spacious seating and booths designed by local artists. The menu here is a bit southwestern meets new world cuisine with a flair for the Caribbean. Chef Jay Villani and Chef de Cuisine Ethan Tobey bring the flavors of Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico and the southwestern United States to life on the menu.
We stopped in recently for brunch one Saturday (brunch is served here Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and couldn’t resist sitting up at the massive bar. The bartender was extremely friendly and offered us an infused drink from one of their many concoctions lining the counter (Think lemon thyme vodka, strawberry jalapeno vodka and grilled pineapple vodka). Sonny’s has an incredible craft beer list (which my husband enjoyed) but I couldn’t resist ordering a Hot Bloody Maria with chili pepper infused tequila, a deliciously unique and tasty twist to the traditional Bloody Mary.
For appetizers, we started off with the ceviche, a delightfully fresh shrimp salad, and the overstuffed chile relleno, which we quickly devoured. The tri pork Cuban sandwich was enormous, filled with roast shoulder, braised belly, baked ham and Swiss cheese on a mustard laced fresh baked crusty roll. Don’t miss the homemade creamy mac and cheese and be sure to add in some spicy chorizo for some extra flavor.
Other brunch items include farmer’s eggs over rice and beans, a fluffy short stack of pancakes, huevos rancheros, which sounded fantastic (fried eggs, cheese, corn tortillas, beans and salsa roja) and arepa's del dia - porkbelly, fried eggs and cheddar. The menu here is extremely reasonably priced for brunch with all dishes under $15. Sonny’s is located at 83 Exchange Street in Portland, Maine. For more information, call (207) 772-7774 or visit SonnysPortland.com