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BREW, AHA!
EDUCATIONAL INFORMATION IS ON THE MENU WITH EXTENSIVE FOODS AND A RAFFISH DECOR

Large, busy, extensively menu-ed, the Lewiston Brew House offers plenty of choices. There's a raffish tequila bar that offers a gazillion varieties of the agave liquor, a draft beer list and an off-the-beaten track wine list that is much stronger on interesting bottled wine than it is on wine in glasses. All of these beverages come with educational information - describing flavor and so on.

Did I forget about the food?

Well not for long, anyway. Hungry folks can order Mexican vittles, burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads as well as many variations on the beef and chicken theme. Despite the rather formal decor of the indoor dining room, this is an informal place.

So we sat on the deck on a beautiful summer evening and ordered Margaritas and appetizers. Both were very good. The Popcorn Shrimp, for instance, ($5.99) were tiny as expected but they were lightly breaded, gently fried and plentiful. What more could anyone ask for?

The Chipping and Dipping appetizer ($3.99) was pretty good, too. Fresh chips served up with cheese sauce as well as raw tomato appetizer accompanied the Margaritas pretty well.

BBQ Ribs are a specialty at the Brew House, and one-third a rack is perfect for a relatively small appetite (having consumed the appetizers we weren't exactly starving). They were tasty and very tender, the sauce picked up a bit with a little beer addition. The one-third rack with cole slaw and fries runs $8.99; two-thirds of a rack is $13.99 and the full rack is just under $20.

The same sauce adorned the Barbecued Chicken Breast ($7.99). A nice arrangement, the chicken was cooked nicely. Still moist and tender, making it well worthwhile to order healthily for once. The Tap House 12-ounce Strip ($14.99) sounded appealing, too, especially since it was topped with caramelized onions. And that was a clever call for us. The meat was good but not amazing, so those onions really saved the day.

Other specialties sounded good, too. Like the Shrimp Jambalaya over black beans and rice ($12.99). And the Drunken Chicken ($9.99) in which the chicken breast is sauteed with tequila, bell peppers, onion and Spanish olives. Cilantro-lime vinaigrette and pico de gallo also get involved.

The Mexican offerings include blackened Catfish Tacos ($7.99) and Vegetarian quesadillas - grilled portobello mushrooms and two cheese included here ($7.49).

And then there's the Stout and Pout Veggie Sandwich with garlic infused mayo, and the beef on weck ($5.49). You get the idea. You won't go hungry here.

If you're still feeling a bit peckish, however, you might go for the brownie and ice cream dessert. Very 6-year-old birthday party but also very chocolate-y. Even if this is not exactly subtle, it's a satisfying ending to a meal.

LEWISTON BREW HOUSE ***

WHERE: 432 Center St., Lewiston (754-9681). A large, basically informal restaurant in the midst of the village. Big indoor dining room, a busy tequila bar and an outdoor patio. Long beer list; extensive bottle wine list. Credit cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa

FAVORITE DISH: Popcorn Shrimp Appetizer

NEEDS WORK: Food is of good quality

PRICE RANGE: Dinners with sides from $7.99; Early Birds, $9.99 for two

SERVICE: Very good

HOURS: Lunch, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, dinner, seven days from 4 to 11; Early Birds, Monday through Friday before 6 p.m.

HEALTHY CHOICES: Shrimp Jambalaya, Jerk Chicken

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Ramp from parking lot

PARKING: Parking lot in back

KID APPEAL: Yes, in the dining room or on the patio

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