Cocktails in a Batson River Fish Shack
What happens when you mix cold Maine winters with Covid indoor dining restrictions? For most restaurants it would mean shutting down until warmer temperatures arrive in the spring, but not Kennebunk’s Batson River Brewing, instead they drew inspiration from the ice shanties often seen erected on the frozen lakes of Maine for fishing, and created the Batson River Fish Shacks for private drinking and eating. For $20 you can reserve a heated, cozy Fish Shack on the deck of the restaurant that has enough seating for six and will allow you and your party to enjoy Batson food and libations in your own socially distant space.
Our family ventured to Batson to try out the Fish Shacks before they were taken down for the summer and found the experience to be comfortably creative, unique, and fun after a winter of mostly take-out food and limited indoor dining. Amongst the Fish Shacks, the environment feels like a luxury winter camp with multiple roaring fire pits, stacked firewood, Adirondack chairs, and twinkling lights strung up across the shacks. The interior of the shacks are just big enough for a hightop table, six Tolix-like stools, and are decorated with stylish fishing paraphernalia and other outdoor-themed gear.
With each shack reservation you only have 90 minutes to eat, drink, and socialize, so we got busy ordering right away. The service is swift and friendly and the food comes out as it is ready. I started with a Mule, which is the Batson version of the popular cocktail mixing Clock Farm Vodka with pomegranate and ginger. April got the Batson G&T with pink peppercorns, grapefruit, and fever tree tonic served in a large wine glass. All of the cocktails at Batson were outstanding, but our favorite cocktail of the night was the Bulldog Punch which is served in a vintage tall glass and combines Dixie Bull Rum with pineapple, lime, and bitters.
Our party of four shared several dishes including the scrumptious Batson Burger, Roasted Cauliflower with lemon, gremolata, grana, and pine nuts, as well as the Mushroom Carbonara that is a mixture of their house tagliatelle, peas, black pepper, truffle, and egg yolk. The star of the evening was the Fried Chicken Sandwich, which included slaw, spicy remoulade, and some very spicy pickled jalapeños on the side. My son, who is a fried chicken sandwich connoisseur, rated the Batson Fried Chicken Sandwich as his favorite in New England, even better than Hop & Grind, Sebago Brewing, and the Boathouse. To finish off the evening, we had the Dixie Bull Chocolate Mousse with bourbon toffee, chantilly, and hazelnut. While most of the food portions at Batson were generous, the mousse portion was adequate but left us all wanting more.
Batson will have the Fish Shacks up until the end of April and then they will transform the deck for summertime outdoor dining. If you want to experience the Fish Shacks before next winter, I highly recommend making a reservation today as they can book up several weeks in advance. Kudos to the Batson River crew for turning the covid indoor dining restrictions into such a positive, Maine experience in which our family enjoyed an amazing meal and felt safe at the same time.