I have to imagine that the debate about whether to take I-95 or Route 3 to Bar Harbor is constantly raging along the stretch from Kittery to Augusta throughout the summer and fall.

Google Maps says there’s an eight-minute difference, which, for some, is nothing compared to the relative tranquility of meandering through tiny Maine towns as opposed to navigating a crowded highway. For others, it might feel like a small but unnecessary waste of precious time in paradise. But here’s one argument against the latter.

Wild Grace Farm is a store and cafe right off Route 3 in Liberty, and the small, spaced-out signs lining the road leading up to it – advertising its offerings, from coffee to produce – indicate that it caters to people who are on the way to somewhere else.

For me, that wasn’t somewhere far – a lakeside Airbnb a mile or two away – but I was early for the official check-in time and needed lunch.

The store and cafe serves breakfast and lunch all day, with a focus on paninis, including meatball; barbecue pulled pork; and apple, cheddar and honey, all served with a side of salad or fresh fruit. I chose the smoked salmon ($12), with Casco Bay cream cheese, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and dill, while my cabin-mate opted for the mango curry chicken salad (also $12).

The market at Wild Grace has many Maine-made items, from wallets to pickles, as well as bread, produce and meat.

While waiting for the sandwiches to be prepared, I perused the store’s merchandise, which is mostly Maine-made items, including wallets, tea towels, jams and pickles. I took note of the small selection of fresh produce, cheese and meat, as well as beer and wine, in case we ran out of supplies, and picked up a quart of strawberries, fearing I might otherwise miss out on what was a particularly short and sweet season.

The smoked salmon panini from Wild Grace Farm in Liberty.

When my order was ready, I took the to-go boxes to a patio table outside, overlooking a field with other scattered tables to one side and Route 3 to the other. I had failed to read the menu’s fine print, saying that the paninis were served on Back 40 Bakehouse multigrain bread (or a gluten-free option), and was pleasantly surprised to see the salmon wasn’t engulfed by thick pieces of ciabatta as I’d imagined. It was more like a basic sandwich on toasted bread than what I think of as a panini and a much lighter meal than expected, nicely rounded out by the side of fresh greens in balsamic dressing.

I had a bite of the chicken salad, which had a great balance of sweetness and spice and would probably be my order if I return for lunch. I did for breakfast a couple days later, on my way out of town, grabbing a cold brew ($2.50) for the road and bacon and egg sandwich ($7.50).

Over my short long weekend, Wild Grace Farm served several purposes for me. It’s a handy spot to know about if you’re headed east of Augusta and beats a drive-through off the highway in Newport, if you’re trying to decide which way to go.

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