The bacon cheeseburger from Central Sandwich & Provisions in Portland. Photo by Ray Routhier

Not all changes brought by the pandemic are bad.

For instance, I’m not sure when I ever would have sampled the fare at Central Provisions, the innovative Portland eatery that was named one of the 10 best new restaurants in America by Bon Appetit magazine a half dozen years ago.

With two kids, I don’t go to a lot of upscale restaurants in the Old Port. Along with so many restaurants that have adapted during the pandemic, Central Provisions has changed into a takeout and delivery place for the winter. It’s called Central Sandwich & Provisions, located in the restaurant’s Fore Street storefront.

The takeout menu features sandwiches, soups, salads and sides. There are also, as the name indicates, provisions you’d get at a gourmet market, including caviar, coffee beans, cheese, sweets, meats and a lot more. You can also get beer, wine and cocktails to go with your food.

I found the sandwiches and soups to be reasonably priced, but definitely upscale in quality and taste.

When I ordered dinner for my family the other night, the sandwiches we got were between $12 and $14, and each was big enough to make a hearty meal. My daughter, Dinah, and I split a bacon cheeseburger ($12) and a house-roasted turkey BLT ($13).


The burger had two generous patties of house-ground beef, plus aged cheddar, thick bacon, lettuce, onions, pickles and mayo on a fluffy Kaiser roll. The burger was done perfectly, with a nice pink color inside. The whole burger with roll was among the best I’ve had in Portland.

The suckling pig Cubano from Central Sandwich & Provisions in Portland. Photo by Ray Routhier

The BLT was piled high with slices of roast turkey, plus avocado, tomato jam, thick bacon, butter lettuce and herbed mayo on toasted Maine Grain sourdough bread. The combination of the tomato jam, avocado and bacon was a tasty treat.

My wife tried the suckling pig Cubano sandwich ($14), which featured roast pork, jamon serrano (Spanish ham), Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on panini-style grilled bread. My daughter, Sophie, had the soup of the day, for $10, which featured local kale, chorizo sausage, white beans and potato. It was flavorful and hearty, and she had enough left over for a lunch portion the next day.

We also tried a side of smoked potato salad, with bacon, grain mustard, red onion, celery and deviled egg aioli ($6). It was really good.

A side of smoked potato salad from Central Sandwich & Provisions in Portland. Photo by Ray Routhier

Central Sandwich & Provisions has an easy online ordering system, something I’ve grown quite fond of during the pandemic. I went online around 5 p.m., placed my order and paid, then got an email and text confirmation saying it would be ready in about 25 minutes. In less than that, I got an email saying my order was ready. I got a parking spot right in front of the place on Fore Street, and picked up my order.

I’d love to try a few of the other creative sandwiches on the Central Sandwich & Provisions menu at some point, including the bone marrow grilled cheese with fontina cheese, horseradish and red onion jam.

But then again, I may just get another burger. Because when it comes to gathering provisions to weather a pandemic, the emotional power of a good burger is immense.

The house-roasted turkey BLT from Central Sandwich & Provisions in Portland. Photo by Ray Routhier

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