The Craft Burger and a side order of potato salad at Craft Curbside in Gray. Photo by Meredith Goad

The town of Gray is a bit of a drive from my house, but for a long time I’ve stalked a certain quirky little business there online – Craft Curbside, a lunch-and-dinner spot (and market) that was opened last year by three former bartenders, not long after the pandemic started.

The restaurant side of the business sells sandwiches, salads and other quick-service foods, but also meal kits to take home and beer, wine, cider and cocktail mixers. All of the food is locally sourced and made from scratch. Some if it is as local as you can get: $4 gets you a dozen eggs from the restaurant’s own flock that lives behind the building. The Craft Curbside chickens eat traditional feed, but are also given vegetable scraps from the restaurant’s kitchen and garden.

I’ve been following the place for months because of both the menu and the photos I’ve seen of the food online. These guys know how to make the simplest foods Instagram-friendly. On a recent chilly November day, I decided to take the drive out to Gray for lunch. I wanted something warm, and I hadn’t eaten a hamburger in a while. Their $13 Craft Burger – made with Pineland Farms beef, Cabot cheddar, bacon, greens, red onion, pickles and house sauce – sounded good, so I set out on my mission to see the place first-hand.

I called this spot quirky, but I wasn’t referring to the food itself. The fun starts when you pull into the place, which is tucked behind Howell’s Indoor Range and Gun Shop. If you aren’t careful, it’s easy to miss. The restaurant is mostly set up for takeout, although there are several picnic tables outside where customers have been dining all summer and fall. On the day I visited, it was too cold to be outside, so I grabbed a seat at the only table indoors and ordered at the counter.

The space is very small, but includes a large cooler filled with beer, house-made cocktail mixers and local sodas. To the right of the cooler are shelves filled with bottles of wine. And a shelf in another corner is there to draw out your inner bartender. It showcases bartenders’ tools, bitters, house-made infusion kits, cocktails shakers and so on.

The interior of Craft Curbside is plain and simple – a little more so than I had imagined, given some of the beautiful plates I had seen on Instagram. So imagine my surprise when my burger arrived dressed to the nines, on one of those big silverplate trays your mother uses on Thanksgiving. The burger, an orange marigold nestled up against it, sat at the end of a tasty smear of house-made sauce. Dots of ketchup playfully decorated the tray, as if this were a $35 entree in one of Portland’s fine-dining restaurants. The potato salad, with potatoes cut in perfect squares, was served in what looked like your grandmother’s candy dish, and was also decorated with fresh flowers. It was a huge serving for just $3, and the house-made aioli, pickled scallions and red onion gave it a tangy kick.

Craft Curbside in Gray. Photo by Meredith Goad

As I dug into the burger, I silently nicknamed it Goldilocks – it was neither too small nor too big, and felt just right. Add-ons are available, including extra patties and bacon, or a fried egg from one of those restaurant chickens, if you’re hungry like Papa Bear. Between the burger and the potato salad, I was too full for dessert, although the panna cotta ($7), made with milk, yogurt and cream from Stillbrook Acres in Gray, was tempting. I ended up taking about half of my potato salad home, along with a peach salad I bought to have for dinner later. The salad – a bed of greens dotted with honey-soaked peaches, Stillbrook Acres fromage blanc and candied pecans, and dressed with a white balsamic vinaigrette – was delicious, a hint of slightly sweet and slightly sharp in every bite. It can be ordered as a side or as a meal.

Other wraps and sandwiches at Craft Curbside include a hummus wrap, roasted chicken sandwich, reuben on rye, pulled pork panini, meatball sub and a hot apple-and-gruyere sandwich with honey mustard, served on a Botto’s Bakery ciabatta, to which you can add bacon or roasted chicken. The sandwiches range from $10 to $13.

Specials are available every night. Monday is stir-fry night, for example, Tuesday is for tacos, and on Wednesday, there’s pasta.

While you’re there, pick up a meal kit for dinner. Prices range from $10 for mac and cheese for two to $28 for barbecue pulled pork sandwiches for four. Two kinds of lasagna are also available.

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