The counter at Cumberland Food Company, which sells breakfast and lunch.
Photo by Aimsel Ponti

On a recent Friday, I wound my way to Cumberland Center for a spur-of-the-moment solo lunch outing. Little did I know I would experience not only a delicious meal but a slice of small-town life that was charming and welcoming.

Cumberland Food Company opened about three years ago but was completely new to me. It’s at a busy (in a fairly loose sense of the word) intersection in Cumberland Center in a sprawling white house with tons of parking and a seasonal outdoor seating area.

I felt at ease immediately upon entering the multiroom space with exposed wooden beams and plenty of natural light.

The menu isn’t huge, but I always appreciate a place that doesn’t try to do too many things. On the breakfast front, there are egg sandwiches, pancakes and a section called “toasted things” that includes bagels, English muffins, biscuits and bread, including gluten-free options. There was also a swoon-inducing array of other baked goods available.

I, however, was there for lunch, and while I briefly debated the Kitchen Sink Cobb (mixed lettuce, local chicken breast, bacon, blue cheese, hard-boiled egg, tomato and herb vinaigrette dressing for $14) and the classic BLT (house mayo, North County bacon, tomato and romaine for $8), what really caught my eye was that day’s specials menu.

The restaurant had sold out of the savory butternut squash pie – an indication that it was delicious – and I thought long and hard about A Grown-Up’s Grilled Cheese (Canadian bacon and slow-cooked apple with Vermont cheddar cheese on pullman bread for $9). There was also offered a lamb and pecan sausage sandwich (with pickled apples and muenster cheese on a toasted ciabatta for $11).

The Flap Top chicken sandwich at Cumberland Food Company.  Photo by Aimsel Ponti

In the end, I opted for something that would actually get a few vegetables into my body but in a most delightful way. The Flat Top chicken sandwich was served on toasted ciabatta with goat cheese and bread-and-butter zucchini ($10). Paired with a can of Polar seltzer and a bag of Fox chips, this was a perfect lunch. The sandwich had some of the freshest chicken I’ve had in a while and plenty of the pickled zucchini. It was hearty, toasted to a perfect, gentle warmth and good to the last morsel.

I sat at a high counter by a window and, while I ate, overhead snippets of a conversation at the table near me about someone’s recent trip abroad. I also heard the sounds of children from another seating area and occasionally saw a tiny tot flit about near me. It was obvious that Cumberland Food Company is a hangout for locals and an anchor of the town.

On my way out, I spent $2 on a good-sized chocolate chip cookie to go and put it in my bag. Several hours later at home, I remembered it was there and gifted it to my spouse. A formidable baker, she’s not always easy to please, but she gave this cookie high marks, noting in particular that it was lighter than most, which she appreciated.

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