No puzzle to Conundrum Wine Bistro’s buzz

For years, I’ve heard whispers and rumors about Conundrum, a wine bistro in Freeport that has a cult-like local following.  It’s located at the Big Indian, that you-know-it-when-you-see-it Freeport landmark on Route 1, but it slips under the radar screen of most visitors. Locals, however, have embraced this place. I moseyed in for dinner tonight, and now I understand its popularity.

Conundrum serves a blend of plus-sized tapas and comfort foods, familiar fare gussied and presented with care, along with an impressive selection of wines, both by the bottle and the glass.  The service is bang on: efficient, friendly, and without pretension; the setting is inviting: cozy, comfy, and casual. It’s equally suited for easy dining or grabbing drinks and quick eats. Snag a seat at the bar or a hightop, in the  dining area with regular tables as well as couches, or on the enclosed and heated outdoor terrace, with tables as well as couches by a fireplace; nice!

The wine menu, with about 60 choices by the glass and nearly 500 by the bottle, is bound into a cover; “Tell me what you like, and I’ll make some suggestions,” said my waiter as my eyes glazed over the possibilities.

The food menu is a far less complicated, just a single sheet of paper, with appetizers on one side, entrees on the other. Appetizers ($7-11)  include smoked salmon crostini, bruschetta, antipasto, chicken liver pate, chicken soup with cream cheese dumplings, salads, and cheeses. Entrees ($12-27) range from a bacon Swiss burger to a 12 oz. NY sirloin. The menu changes regularly, and a new one will debut shortly.

Although I dithered over the appetizers—the soup and a 1,000-day Gouda cheese were particularly intriguing—I assuaged being on the road alone with the homemade meatloaf topped with brown gravy ($14), reeled in by its accompaniments—bleu cheese mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. The thick slab of meatloaf was dense, moist, flavorful, and seared on two sides; the potatoes were rich and smooth, with occasional small chunks of potato and a large dollop of bleu cheese on top, which melted in nicely; and the asparagus retained its snap. The whole easily could have fed two, which was dangerous because it was so good that I could have forced myself through it all. Thank goodness the waiter had warned me in advance and offered to pack any leftovers.

And here’s a tip from same waiter: Conundrum is holding a free wine tasting as it switches over its menus later this month; call (207-865-0303) and ask for the specifics, there’s no web site.

Call me a new member of the Conundrum cult.


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