I had a light breakfast on the morning that I planned to go to b.good. By 11:30 I was ravenous and barely had the strength to walk the short distance from the newsroom to 15 Exchange St. in Portland’s Old Port.
But I made it, and upon arrival the wondrous aroma of burgers and fries wafted into my nose and I almost levitated a few inches off the ground while perusing the menu.
By the way, in case you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of b.good, it’s because it just opened a few shorts weeks ago, but with any luck it will become a permanent fixture.
I knew before I even got there that I wanted a beef burger but let me first mention the other options. There’s all-natural grilled chicken, natural and hand-packed ground turkey burgers and a homemade and all-natural veggie burger. The base price on all of these, including the local all-natural house-ground beef is $6.29, and add-ons include bacon, local cheese, gluten-free buns and, get this, you can even get crisp veggies (sautéed broccolini, grape tomatoes and wild mushrooms) instead of bread for $1.29. b.good offers six speciality burgers, and we’ll get to what those are in a minute.
Let it also be known that b.good offers salads ($7.59), milkshakes with ice cream from Gifford’s in Skowhegan, ($3.99, $4.99), smoothies ($4.99) and a rotating selection of local craft beers and wine. b.good also has hand-cut fries made from potatoes that come from Spiller Farms in Wells. A side is $2.59; for $2.89 you can get sweet potato fries.
OK, back to the burgers. The beef comes from Pineland Farms Natural Meats in Fort Fairfield, and the six offerings are Cousin Oliver, West Side, Buffalo, El Guapo, Adopted Luke and the Seasonal Special. Toppings on these include avocado, buffalo sauce, mushrooms, sautéed jalapenos and Chef Tony’s homemade pickles, among several others. I went with Cousin Oliver.
Surely you’re wondering whether the Cousin Oliver has anything to do with “The Brady Bunch?” If so, wouldn’t it mean it was an annoying attempt at ratings, not unlike Vicki on “The Love Boat?”
I didn’t ask because the person waiting on me surely would have given me a strange look, and I would have left there feeling old and outdated. But this much I do know, the Cousin Oliver comes with lettuce, tomato, onion and Chef Tony’s homemade pickles. That’s right up my alley, and that’s exactly what I ordered, along with a side of fries.
I flew back to my desk as fast as humanly possible, vowing not to inhale my food. After I steadied my breathing, I unwrapped the burger and spread the fries out on my desk, where they were adorned with just the right amount of ketchup.
Then the moment came. I lifted the burger, which has not, thankfully, enormous, to my mouth and dug in. It was cooked to perfection and my eyes closed involuntarily as I chewed and swallowed. Next I plucked a fry from its resting spot and immediately appreciated how real it tasted. I chalked that up to the local spuds used and the goodness that sometimes only an oven, rather than a fryolator, can produce.
My lunch was immensely satisfying, and upon finishing I knew I wanted to return soon. Little did I know it would be just a few days later. and that I would be following in the 1995 footsteps of Sandra Bullock.
Before I get to my second visit, I need closure on the Cousin Oliver question. I went to the b.good website, and lo and behold, the Cousin Oliver handle was chosen via a contest to rename one of
b.good’s burgers. It was indeed inspired by the “legendary” Brady Bunch character, and the winner believed that “like b.good, Coustin Oliver represented the new thing in your life that you’re not quite sure of at first but quickly learn to love.” Wow. Way to rewrite history, but to each her own. Plus, the burger was delicious, so there’s that.
Along with the Oliver info, a visit to the b.good website told me that they offer online ordering. I first saw Sandra Bullock do this in the 1995 thriller “The Net,” and can’t belive it took me nearly 20 years to follow suit. The process was quick and easy, and I got a kick out of waltzing in there, jumping the line (OK, there wasn’t one, but I COULD have) and waltzing back out with brown paper sack in hand, having already paid at my desk. I ordered the same thing as last time, and it was just as tasty.
Welcome to 2013, Aimsel. And welcome to Portland, b.good.
Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:firstname.lastname@example.org