If you’re a breakfast sandwich lover but cringe at the thought of going through a fast-food drive-thru, try the breakfast panini at Borealis Breads. You’ll pay a little more, but the ingredients will be much fresher and most likely locally sourced.
Most important, it will taste much better.
The panini comes on your choice of bread, and you’ll have a large variety of choices, because all the bread is made right on the premises. The sandwich we tried consisted of a couple of slices of rosemary bread filled with real scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese (your choice of cheese) and sausage links (meat costs extra) that had been sliced in half and grilled. The sandwich stayed piping hot all the way to the office, and was large enough to share.
The damage? Eight dollars and change for the sandwich and a large coffee from Coffee by Design.
There are less expensive breakfast options, and they will all tempt you from behind the glass at the long counter that showcases the bakery’s breads, pizzas, baked goods (bagels, cookies) and desserts (penuche, chocolate cake). Typical breakfast items include English breakfast scones, nutty apricot cranberry scones and muffins that can be buttered, grilled and served with Maine-made jam.
The only problem with breakfast at Borealis is deciding what to order, because everything sounds so good. The Maine maple walnut granola comes with either cranberries and milk, or with Maine yogurt drizzled with Maine honey.
Hot morning foods include Maine oats simmered in apple juice and served with walnuts, brown sugar, milk, and cranberries or raisins.
Sensing a theme here?
Borealis puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to serving local foods. The bistro also sells lots of locally made products, such as Sonnental cheese, Pastor Chuck apple products and Captain Mowatt’s hot sauces and Angry Pickles.
Owner Jim Amaral has long been a passionate advocate of restoring the cultivation of bread grains to Maine’s agricultural landscape, so perhaps it’s not surprising that you can even buy a 5-pound bag of organic Maine whole wheat flour at the bistro.
Borealis also serves a variety of sandwiches and paninis in the $7.75 to just-under-$9 range. The bistro’s Reuben is made with black pastrami, Morse’s sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and homemade Russian dressing. A smoked turkey sandwich comes with housemade cranberry chutney, cream cheese and arugula.
The atmosphere at Borealis is light and bright. About a dozen small tables in the cafe are surrounded by yellow and spring-green walls and flooring, and in the summer, a pleasant patio is open for lingering over lunch and coffee.
There’s a fridge full of drink options and a cooker filled with to-go items such as salads and flavored butter. Folks who live in the neighborhood have come to enjoy Borealis as a place to stop by on the way home from work to pick up dinner. The bistro sells family-sized portions of homemade mac-n-cheese, turkey pot pies and shepherd’s pie very reasonably priced at $12.95 and $13.95.
Borealis Bistro is the kind of place more Portland neighborhoods need. Like Rosemont Market on Brighton Avenue, it’s a great off-peninsula source of fresh, local food.
The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $7.