WESTBROOK — Main Street in Westbrook still looks much like it did decades ago. Sure, the shop signs have changed and additions have been made, but the classic structures remain (like Walker Memorial Library or the Dana Warp Mill just over Main Street’s shoulder).
Westbrook’s Main Street Cafe is also a testament to classics, with its ’50s-style checkered flooring and wall of black-and-white photographs of Main Street’s past. In those photos, you’ll recognize a shop window or street corner. You might glimpse the paper mill in its old-school heyday.
And while the mill now plays stage to Shakespearean productions and sweat-inducing fitness sessions, Main Street Cafe has held on to its charming – and classic – diner feel.
Quiet during a recent Monday lunch, a booth was taken up by a contented gray-haired man in red suspenders, and two women chatted over sandwiches at a table near the counter.
Local office and shopworkers stepped in to pick up to-go orders that they’d take back to their desks or to a sunny spot outside.
I was convinced to nab the day’s special – steak and cheese with a side of fries for $6.99 – although a turkey club ($7.99) also tempted.
The menu is packed with well-priced comfort lunch options such as grilled cheese ($2.99), soup or chowder and a half sandwich ($5.99), and a BLT ($4.29).
The cafe also serves breakfast all day for locals with a penchant for noontime bacon. For workers on the run, Main Street Cafe offers a bargain $2.99 Italian sandwich to go.
But it’s worth it to slide into a booth and mull over the “Find the 50 states” placemat crossword puzzle during the short wait for your food to arrive.
And while you bite into the soft bun of a philly sandwich, see if you can’t make out the meanings behind an array of old Maine license plates that have been put out to pasture on the high walls of Main Street Cafe. “SCHNOOK” and “SNOTTY” could be nicknames. But the matching “ANN ROY” and “ROY ANN” plates made me think a sweet matching-plate relationship had gone awry in Maine’s past.
Maybe Ann and Roy used to flirt over a shared plate of eggs benedict ($5.95) or a Main Street Slammer ($6.95). Maybe they still come in separately – and with unmatching license plates – for some “wings of fire” ($5.95 for a small) or double ham and cheese ($3.99) and reminisce about the old days.
The Features staff of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram anonymously samples meals for about $7.