Dan Talmatch, owner of The North Point, said he often feels like Mr. Rogers. He shared this opinion while sitting on the sidewalk patio outside of the restaurant, after waving at about five passerby, including his produce vendor, several regulars, and even a few strangers.
“It’s what I love about Portland,” Talmatch said.
That Talmatch is friendly and hospitable is an understatement, and he passes these traits onto his business. In fact, part of the restaurant’s motto — Fine Food and Drink, Old Fashioned Friendly Service — hinges on this philosophy.
It’s The North Point’s easygoing staff and atmosphere, paired with an enticing menu, that is putting the Silver Street eatery and, indeed, Silver Street itself, on the map. A seat at the sophisticated bar, inside the artsy lounge area, or outside on the flowered walk is well worth the short five-minute walk from touristy Commercial Street. And while it’s a popular joint, its location means that fighting rowdy summer crowds for a seat is not the norm.
“Every night, there’s at least one or two couples that have never been here, never heard of us, they just happened by … and then they love it and they come back two nights in a row,” Talmatch said. “If I ever have a doubt about how popular we are or how popular we may become, it reminds me that there are still plenty of people we haven’t reached yet.”
The North Point is sandwiched in the middle of an old brick building, and the kitchen does not allow for open flame or a stove hood, which is “somewhat limiting” in terms of menu items, Talmatch said.
Looking at the menu, though, one feels anything but limited. Guests can build their own meat and cheese boards, or choose from “lite bites,” including savory salads, dips, and even items like nachos and chicken skewers. The North Point’s main entrees are its stuffed flatbread sandwiches, the most popular of which is the Maine Mushroom, which consists of “caramelized Portabella mushrooms, truffle oil, Feta, roasted shallots, and sundried Maine blueberries.” If that’s not up a diner’s alley, there’s a wide variety of flatbreads from which to choose, encompassing everything from pork to salmon to the “ultimate” grilled cheese.
“There are no smoke and mirrors,” Talmatch explained. “We wow with the service and quality of what we’re providing.
The beverage menu wows as well, with 10 quality red wines, 10 white, 10 rotating beer taps, and a sharp cocktail list, which includes the bestselling cucumber gin martini. Talmatch purchases torpedo kegs, smaller units that produce about 70 pints, and allow for smaller batches of local beer and more turnover. For example, the two current rotating beers are Foundation Afterglow and Rising Tide’s Ishmael Copper Ale. What will come next is a mystery to customers, perhaps adding to the allure of The North Point’s famed Happy Hour. On Mondays, from 6 p.m. on, diners can snag half-priced bottles of wine. Tuesdays bring $6 mojitos, and on Monday-Friday from 4-6 p.m., guests can enjoy $5 beers, $6 wines, $7 cocktails and select lite bites for $6 each.
Talmatch and his brother, Noah, opened the spot in February 2013, a year after their brother Ezra’s untimely death. In fact, much of Ezra’s artwork decorates the restaurant’s interior. Talmatch and Noah came together after this sad event and decided to open a restaurant in Portland. Noah had been managing restaurants in New York for upwards of 30 years, while Dan had been living in Scandinavia and working in the business world. His restaurant experience up until that point, he said, had been as a busboy at 18 and a guest bartending shift in 2000.
“I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it,” Talmatch said, laughing.
The North Point is located at 35 Silver St. and is open Monday-Wednesday from 4-11 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. until 1 a.m., Saturday from noon until 1 a.m. and Sunday from noon until 11 p.m. For more information, visit northpointportland.com or call (207) 899-3778.
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