Playing against type, Novare's food menu is quite affordable. For just 50 cents more than at the Thirsty Pig you get two big sausages with the same kraut (Morse's of Maine) as across the street, and a similar mustard. Novare's sausage is blonder and blander. This is perhaps closer to the beer hall classic — but did not compare favorably to the Thirsty Pig version, especially as it was served warm rather than hot. We looked for meat in other guises. The short-rib sandwich was pretty terrific — on great bread and not too heavy, with the meat's richness cut by a great slaw. A pâté made with pork and turkey (just $3!), was sweet, rich, and complex.

Prices aside, Novare Res excels at the tonier stuff, and Thirsty Pig at the food and drink of the common man. Choose your escape accordingly.

Brian Duff can be reached at

THE THIRSTY PIG | 37 Exchange St, Portland | 207.773.2469

NOVARE RES BIER CAFÉ | 4 Canal Plaza/188 Middle St, Portland | 207.761.2437 |

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