I’m not on a diet, but even I feel a tinge of guilt walking into the Cookie Jar on Shore Road.

I love the Cookie Jar. I love the smell of the sugar that smacks you in the face when you walk through the glass door. I like the fairy-tale appearance of the confections behind the glittering display cases and counters. I like the smiles of the servers, who seem genuine in their service and gratitude.

Everything about this place feels like a treat, all bound up in a nice, sugary bundle. But until recently, a trip to the Cookie Jar never felt like lunch.

As part of its reopening following a dormant period, the Cookie Jar has begun offering a small selection of soups and sandwiches. The sandwiches are pre-made daily and wrapped in clear cellophane behind glass. The soups are available to go in cardboard containers.

On a recent weekday afternoon, I met my wife for lunch. The attendant gladly heated our gluten-free vegetable chili and served it in two full bowls.

I had a ham and cheese sandwich, and my wife had ham with lettuce, tomato and cheese. Both were served on a freshly baked wheat bread — mine with mustard, hers with mayo.


Our meal was simple and quick — soup and sandwiches for $13.85. Each sandwich cost $3.95, and the chili was $5.95.

The sandwiches were somewhat pedestrian. No complaints, but nothing to distinguish them, either.

As for the chili, I was skeptical. When I see gluten-free, I look away. Especially gluten-free vegetable — three words that are sure to turn me off. But my other choice for soup was tomato bisque, and that didn’t do anything for me. So I came reluctantly to the chili.

It was outstanding. It was full of flavor and texture and packed with corn, different varieties of beans, chilies and peppers. It was fiery hot, in a sweat-inducing way. It cleared my sinuses. But it wasn’t offensively hot. It didn’t burn going down. The heat lingered and offered a late bite.

I also devoured a peanut butter cookie as a bit of a dessert. It was chewy and somewhat moist.

For good measure, I bagged a butternut doughnut to go. It was my honest intention to save the doughnut for later, perhaps even until the next morning. It’s not right to go into a place like the Cookie Jar and not come out with something later for home.


But alas, my resistance was down. Remember what I said before about not being on a diet?

The doughnut was gone — vanished — before my Subaru made it back over the Casco Bay Bridge.

The Features staff of The Portland Press Herald anonymously samples meals for about $7.


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