The smash burger at Thoroughfare, a new takeout restaurant in Yarmouth, is a thing of beauty. Photo by Christian Hayes

For days I had been craving a good burger, but every time I contemplated ordering one of the $15-plus burgers that seem to be everywhere these days, I balked. I know those pricier burgers are probably worth it, but tell that to my starving bank account. I just wanted something simple, but better than fast food.

This seemed like the perfect time to try Thoroughfare, the new takeout-only restaurant opened by chef Christian Hayes in Yarmouth. Hayes does amazing things in the kitchen at The Garrison, his restaurant in the Sparhawk Mill on the Royal River, and at the catering company he and his wife own, Dandelion Catering. Thoroughfare is a child of the pandemic, a place that offers comfort food like burgers, sandwiches (including breakfast sandwiches served from 7-11 a.m.) and shakes at prices that are more than fair, especially during a pandemic when so many restaurants are suffering. Indeed, Thoroughfare was born out of need – the need to bring its sister, The Garrison, back from the brink. Hayes worked like a wild man to birth Thoroughfare, and his hard work has paid off handsomely. The place was slammed when it opened in February (on its first day, the restaurant sold 300 burgers in an hour), and it hasn’t slowed down much since.

Customers wait for their orders at Thoroughfare, a new takeout restaurant in Yarmouth, that serves quality burgers, sandwiches and shakes. Photo by Meredith Goad

I placed an order from my Portland home, and by the time I drove to Yarmouth, it was ready. (According to the text I received, my order took 12 minutes to prepare.) Even though it was a busy Friday night, the line at the takeout window moved quickly and efficiently. I tried the smash burger ($10), which consists of two patties on a soft potato bun with American cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, minced onion, pickles and “spesh sauce.” It was a cold winter night, but the burger had that flavor you get when you grill outdoors in the summer, and as I ate it, I found myself dreaming of better, warmer, COVID-free days to come. I added a side of fries for an extra $2. As I’ve grown older, I’ve found my taste for fries has diminished, but eating these brought out my inner teenager. They were hot and crispy, not too salty, and had a sprinkling of black pepper.

Thoroughfare also offers a BBQ bacon burger with smoked bacon and crispy fried onions, a vegan burger, two styles of crispy chicken sandwiches and two styles of fried fish sandwiches, including the Kimmy Gibbs, which is fried haddock with a sweet soy glaze, kimchi, pickled onions, kewpie mayo and iceberg lettuce. These sandwiches cost $10-$12. Thoroughfare even offers a lamb burger for $16, made with North Star Farm lamb and feta, mint, scallion, tzatziki sauce, iceberg lettuce and pickled onions. (All of these mouth-watering options made my head swim and I had second thoughts about ordering a burger, but in the end decided all the choices just mean I have a good excuse to return soon.)

I washed this all down with one of Hayes’ malted chocolate shakes topped with whipped cream and a cherry. The restaurant also makes ice cream floats in three flavors: root beer, orange and (God help us) Moxie.

The white bean and spicy soppressata salad at Thoroughfare, a new takeout restaurant in Yarmouth. Photo by Meredith Goad

Thoroughfare’s menu includes a rotating selection of salads. Since my Friday night splurge was so indulgent, I ordered the white bean and soppressata salad ($9) to stick in the fridge for Saturday night dinner. The salad was a sea of white beans mixed with small bits of spicy soppressata, creamy morsels of Bayley Hazen blue cheese from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont, pickled onions, olives, herbs, nuts and a just a few greens. I devoured this, and would order it again. It’s nice to have a healthier choice on the menu that feels almost as sinful as the burgers, fried chicken and fried fish.

But indulgent is the watchword at Thoroughfare, so watch out for specials such as the recent “quad burger” made with four patties, candied bacon, jalapeno relish and special sauce, or the malted vanilla shake topped with toasted house marshmallows, crushed Golden Grahams and chocolate soil – s’mores in a cup. The treat section of the menu runs the gamut from a bacon cheddar scone ($4) to a late-night shortbread and chocolate fudge snack bar ($3) topped with potato chip crumbs and caramel drizzle (OMG).

Hayes is also selling “Scrappy Meals” that will definitely make you happier than the ones you buy your kids at the place with golden arches. These adult meals ($14.99) include a smash burger, fries, a brown butter chocolate chip cookie, and your choice of a craft beer from Lone Pine Brewing or a Miller High Life. Hayes calls it “a personal box full of edible feelings.”

Don’t forget your best friend has feelings to eat as well. Take your pooch with you to the walk-up window, and the staff will spoil him with a house-made dog biscuit.

A special note for St. Patrick’s Day: From 5 to 7 p.m., Thoroughfare will be hosting live music and selling corned beef sandwiches, Shenanigan Shakes and $3.17 burgers.

I’ll end with this Irish saying that seems appropriate when ordering from a restaurant that opened during a pandemic and is a labor of love for the chef/owner: “However long the day, the evening will come.”

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