BIDDEFORD — There is an implied contract between a diner and a restaurant when one orders a sandwich. It involves the ability to eat said sandwich with one’s hands, unless it is described as an open-faced sandwich, which then suggests a knife and fork might be necessary.

Last week, I made my first stop at Cobblestones in Biddeford, a very nice lunch and dinner place right on Main Street in the heart of what is fast becoming a very hip and happening downtown. It’s a beautiful restaurant: Exposed brick walls, high tin ceilings and a nice array of small high-top tables and larger lower tables. It is clean, inviting and warm, which is very nice during these cold winter days.

Off a neat and well-lettered chalkboard menu, I ordered the hot Boston brisket pastrami sandwich, served with Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and deli mustard, grilled panini-style on marble rye ($8.49). I also asked for a cup of sweet potato corn chowder ($2.99), which tasted as good as its name implies. More on that in a moment.

The sandwich was simply too much for the rye. It began falling apart even as I unwrapped it from the paper it was in. The bottom side of the bread stuck to the paper and pulled away.

I did my best to hold it together, but as I hoisted it mouthward the whole thing fell apart on me, leaving onions, pastrami and pieces of bread to fall to the wrapper below. I reassembled what was left of the bread and tried another bite. This time, I got a mouthful of very tasty, succulent pastrami, but it was ringed by a good-quarter inch of fat, which made it difficult to bite through.

I attempted a bite, and was left with meat hanging from my mouth. I’m glad I was dining alone. This sandwich was a mess.

Having said all that, I give props to Cobblestones. Everything tasted very good.

The pastrami was tender and juicy, the cheese melted just right, I loved the onion and I truly appreciated the quality of the bread.

I wish two things: I wish somebody had trimmed the fat from the pastrami and I wish the chef had used a thicker cut of marble rye to stand up to the rigors of a hungry diner. As good as the sandwich tasted, it was impossible to enjoy.

My frustration was further compounded by the fact that the napkin dispenser at my table didn’t work. I had to take napkins from an adjacent table to wipe my hands and face, and went through a good half-dozen napkins for the half sandwich that I managed to eat. The other half, I took home.

The chowder on the other hand, was pure joy. I loved the sweet potato and corn chowder. It was hot and semi-spicy, and perfect for a bone-chilling winter day. I ate every bite, with enthusiasm. The bites of sweet potato were large and cubed, and the corn was plentiful. It was thick and yummy.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

bkeyes@pressherald.com

Twitter: pphbkeyes