December 30, 2012

Dine Out Maine: Mae's Cafe and Bakery worth the trip for the buns alone

By SHONNA MILLIKEN HUMPHREY

(Continued from page 1)

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The service is friendly and the atmosphere charming at Mae’s Cafe and Bakery.

Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

"MAE'S CAFE

60 Centre St., Bath. 442-8577; maescafeandbakery.com

HOURS: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily

***1/2

PRICE RANGE: $1.50 to $14.95, with most items $8 to $12

BAR: Full

CREDIT CARDS: All major

KIDS: Children's menu

VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY: Yes

WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE: Yes

GLUTEN-FREE: Yes, including gluten-free bread

RESERVATIONS: A variety of event space is available by reservation for private parties.

BOTTOM LINE: Mae's Cafe offers a sun-filled breakfast and lunch menu that includes old favorites and new twists, with particular emphasis on vegetarian and gluten-free options. Service is friendly, the atmosphere is charming, and although the space fills quickly on a Sunday morning, it never felt overwhelming or disproportionate. Try the cinnamon buns and the pecan sticky buns.

Ratings follow this scale and take into consideration food, atmosphere, service and value:

* Poor  **Fair  ***Good ****Excellent *****Extraordinary.

The Maine Sunday Telegram visits an establishment twice if the first dining experience was unsatisfactory. The reviewer dines anonymously.

Bloody Marys tasted like a mix -- but a well-proportioned mix. Nothing fancy, nothing artistic in the garnish of small, pimiento-stuffed olives. A serviceable beverage. Same for the coffee. It was hot, black and strong. Both did their Sunday-morning job.

The fresh fruit salad cup ($3.95), however, was the disappointing kind of fruit salad cup, disproportionately filled with under-ripe honeydew melon and a lone chunk of pineapple.

Blueberry pancakes (two plate-sized for $6.50) were light, fluffy and a testament to blueberry pancakes anywhere. The blueberries were scattered in proportion with no sign of under- or over-cooked centers. That's harder to execute than it might seem, so kudos to the kitchen for turning out a perfect pancake.

The best, though -- and I mean the absolute best and a reason alone to make the trip to Bath -- are the Cinnamon Bun and the Pecan Sticky Bun (each $2.50). Yeasty and chewy buns as big as a salad plate and, I'm guessing, 4 inches tall, these are the sticky buns of legend. These buns are what those shopping mall chain and airport kiosk buns aspire toward. So, so good. If you take them home, they are packaged in adorable white bakery boxes with a red-and-white Mae's sticker on top.

While I did not sample lunch, Mae's menu also has a long list of sandwiches and salads.

Among them are the Bohemian Wrapsody with spinach and artichoke hearts, grilled onions, mushrooms, peppers with chevre in a toasted wrap ($8.95), and the Tarragon Chicken Salad with red grapes, walnuts and red onion over fresh greens with carrots, tomatoes, purple cabbage and cucumbers ($11.95). Both sounded delicious, and I made a note for next time.

Overall, I recommend Mae's for its bright and sunny decor, friendly staff and bakery case. Mae's has ideal space for private parties -- large or small -- and I imagine spending a lovely summer morning on the outdoor deck.

By the time we paid the bill, the dining room had filled up and the hum of Sunday morning had begun in earnest. Still, there was no unruly line at the door.

Shonna Milliken Humphrey is a Maine freelance writer and author of the novel "Show Me Good Land.

 

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