The Picnic Style lobster roll from Bite Into Maine, complete with cole slaw underneath and melted butter drizzled over the top. Photos by Leslie Bridgers

Sunny days in Maine inspire seafood cravings.

Usually, they can be satisfied by sitting on a picnic bench with a plastic tray or piling shells into a metal bucket on an iron mesh patio table, but nowadays the barriers to those scenarios go way beyond coastal traffic and hourslong waits.

For me, the desire for fresh (or freshly fried) fish is about the setting as much as it is the food, which is probably why I’d never been to the Bite Into Maine Commissary on Route 1 in Scarborough.

The Bite Into Maine Commissary on Route 1 in Scarborough.

The sea of asphalt and strip malls there is far from the idyllic setting of its flagship food truck at Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth and also can’t compete with the party atmosphere at Allagash, though similarly pavement-prominent, and its neighboring breweries on Industrial Way in Portland, where Bite Into Maine serves its lobster rolls out of an appropriately hip Airstream trailer.

But the brick-and-mortar location serves a purpose, reliable in any weather and, it turns out, during a global pandemic that has shut down scenic parks and put the kibosh on brewery-hopping.

Atmosphere matters little in this time of curbside dining, not that I can comment on the Commissary’s vibe, as I’ve still never been inside. My order of two lobster rolls, a Maine Style with mayo and a Picnic Style with coleslaw on the bun ($18.50 each), along with a cup of clam chowder ($4.95) and bag of Fox Family chips ($2.30), was placed on a table outside, as promised, promptly 15 minutes after I entered it online.

Still, there was the problem of where to eat, as neither the parking lot nor the inside of a Portland apartment felt appropriate on such a nice weekend day, so close to the coast. But with the town’s beaches roped off and a lack of legal parking options in well-patrolled Prouts Neck (apparently, you have to pay for that view), I ended up pulling off Route 77 into a dirt lot overlooking a field, which worked out just fine.

The clam chowder from Bite Into Maine doesn’t require the salt and pepper packets that come with it.

Despite all the driving around, the food – including a little plastic tub of melted butter to pour over the Picnic Style lobster roll – held up well. The chowder was perfect, even without me bothering to season it with the salt and pepper packets that I’d typically add automatically.

It’s hard to know how careful to be about takeout, whether you should sanitize your hands every time you touch anything but the food, a task that becomes even more difficult when eating in a car. The best bet, I’ve found, is ordering from places that you trust are taking the necessary precautions for you.

Bite Into Maine closed its Commissary for a couple of weeks to make sure it had all the proper measures in place. I found out after the fact that my seafood craving hit on its first weekend back open, which I never would have guessed based on how smooth the process was. Seeing the well-packaged order brought out, on time, by someone in a mask and gloves gave me enough assurance to dig in without fear.

These days, that’s all the ambience I need.


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