The Newcastle Publick House launched the Oysterhead Lounge on the second floor of the Newcastle Square building during its grand opening weekend June 19 to June 21.
The Oysterhead Lounge showcases locally-farmed oysters at the oyster bar situated prominently at the corner of the room.
“We have four different types of oysters all from the Damariscotta River,” co-owner Rachel Nevens said.
Rachel’s husband and business co-owner Alex said the lounge is currently offering Pemaquid, Mook, Norumbega and John’s Bay oysters at its raw bar.
“They’re all local and all similar, but you can taste the differences,” Alex said. “We are promoting one of the the region’s most important industries. I believe there are 10 oyster farms right now in the area.”
At some time in the future, Alex said he may introduce Wellfleets and other types of oysters, depending on what can be supplied locally throughout the year.
The lounge will be open three nights a week from 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Situated above the restaurant, the Oysterhead Lounge offers a second bar to Newcastle Publick House patrons featuring a scaled-down menu, specialty drinks and 14 varieties of canned beer with three on tap.
In addition to the raw bar, Alex said that one of the most critically acclaimed offerings on the Newcastle Publick House menu is Angry Al’s Oysters.
Alex said he grills select oysters, sometimes called jumbo oysters, topped with Gorgonzola, house hot sauce, spinach and bacon.
“It’s very close to Oysters Rockefeller, but has a little more punch to it,” Alex said.
According to Alex the menu in the Oysterhead Lounge is a selection from the Newcastle Publick House menu downstairs, limited to pub food.
Among the selections offered in the lounge are pulled pork nachos, burgers, wings, burgers, haddock and chick sandwiches and pizza.
“If we can get it local we’re going to get it local,” Rachel said. “The beef we use is local and grass-fed.”
“I would say 80 percent of the vegetables we use are organic and supplied locally,” Alex said. “Our nightly vegetable and all our salads are supplied by Morning Dew Farm (in Newcastle).”
The Nevens both said that they are pleased to be using the entire Newcastle Square building now in their business. In addition to the restaurant on the first floor, the lounge and pool room on the second floor, the remaining two floors rising above that house are a 4,000 square-foot condominium.
With the Oysterhead Lounge open only three nights each week, the top three floors are available to rent for private events, wedding rehearsal dinners and receptions.
The room capacity of the bar area is set at 65 for booking private parties, according to Rachel. The second floor and above can be accessed through separate outside entrances at the front and back of the building.
Alex said he wants their business to function “like a true public house in the old days, which was a center of a community. That’s what we want.”
The Oysterhead Lounge fits into that vision as a gathering place, according to Alex.
“Our goal was to tie in with the downstairs,” Alex said. “We don’t want it to feel like a totally different place.”
According to Rachel, the reason for creating the Oysterhead Lounge was due to customer feedback.
“We heard from our customers that our bar downstairs was too small,” Rachel said. “They said ‘we want more bar space, more social space, a place for people to dance as well.'”
According to Alex, the lounge is the natural evolution of what he and Rachel already created in the Newcastle Publick House.
“This is an extension,” Alex said. “It doesn’t feel different, but more of what’s right.”