The 1690 House Bakeshop & Cafe in Wells is open for the season. Photo by Bob Keyes

WELLS — The coronavirus blues have taken us down. We’re more vulnerable than we were, and the uncertainty about what’s coming next has left many of us fearful.

One visit to a well-run bakery won’t change the outlook for the world, but it will brighten one man’s day. That was my experience in mid-March, before the Great American Shutdown, when I stopped into the 1690 House Bakeshop & Cafe, a super-cute breakfast and lunch shop on Route 1 in Wells. It opened for its fourth season on Friday, March 13, a bleak weekday morning in America and a dark time for the world.

The days since have brought chaos and anxiety, and as of this writing, the 1690 House Bakeshop was still open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday to Sunday for pick-up and take-out only.

On its website, the restaurant says its mission is to bring delicious food and coffee to Maine’s southern coast, with a focus on French pastries and healthy breakfast and lunch items. Mission accomplished.

The biscuit breakfast sandwich packs a lot of flavor at the 1690 House in Wells. Photo by Bob Keyes

The food that I sampled was exceptional, and I loved the comfort-of-home atmosphere. At first, I wondered if by chance the house was built in 1690, based on its name. It’s old, but not that old. The cafe is located in an 1875 farmhouse at 1690 Post Road. The wide floorboards reminded me of my family’s house in Berwick, which was built 25 years later, in 1900.

First impressions are everything, and my first impressions were positive. It started with the glass case of treats, which were abundantly bright and cheerful – muffins, cinnamon rolls and croissants arrayed on the top and tarts of fresh fruit, key lime and banana toffee inside. They were a visual delight, and temping to the belly. A Nina Simone song was playing, which went a long way toward creating the calm I sought.

A chalkboard menu above the counter is clearly labeled – breakfast sandwiches, fancy toast and lunch. There’s a neatly arranged cooler with juices and waters off to the side and paintings by local artists on the walls. I sat at a table featuring the work of Acton painter Jay Arbelo. There’s a handful of tables in each of the two main dining areas, though it appears many people already took their orders to go – a hopeful sign that this small business will be able to sustain in these unstable times.

I ordered the biscuit breakfast sandwich, which is served with a choice of ham, local sausage or applewood bacon – I chose bacon – a nice egg, melted cheddar, arugula and dijonnaise. It was massive in size and taste. The biscuit was square and each side thick – a solid half-inch or thicker. The egg covered the bottom of the biscuit almost entirely and the cheese melted over the side. I thought the arugula, with its slightly tart flavor, as well as the dijonnaise, set the biscuit apart from others. And for $6, I felt it was a pretty good deal. The biscuit was more than filling.

The cinnamon roll at the 1690 House. Photo by Bob Keyes

I also ordered a coffee for $2 and, on my way out, grabbed a cinnamon roll ($3.50) and a muffin ($2) for the office. I thought each was as good as the sandwich – fresh, soft and wonderfully sweet. My only quibble was the glaze on the cinnamon roll, which was so generously applied that it might have been coma-inducing.

The cafe was busy. It was opening day, and the community came out in support.


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