I should have known I was in trouble when I heard one of the employees at The Baker’s Bench ask another if my lunch order was for one or two people.
I’m a food writer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I pack it away at every meal. So when I heard my simple order of soup and a sandwich could feed two people, I thought “uh oh.”
When I got my order, I understood why she asked the question. The sandwich, a “Westbrook Club,” was huge. Can’t get your mouth around it big.
I ate half of the sandwich, took a couple of bites of soup just to taste it, and asked for the rest to be wrapped to go.
Not only was it a huge sandwich, it was well-priced and delicious. It was made with roasted turkey (thickly sliced, not deli turkey) and ham on top of a thick slice of American cheese. The bottom slice of toasted prairie bread – a seedy, whole grain bread – was slathered in mayo. The top half of the sandwich held the lettuce, tomato and bacon. It’s like two sandwiches in one – a BLT on top of a turkey and ham.
The bakery is a favorite in Westbrook, as evidence by the steady stream of customers coming in at noontime one recent busy weekday. They’re coming in for lunch, but most can’t get out the door without adding one of the many treats in the pastry case to their order. (Baker’s Bench is perhaps best known for its creme horns. The bakery is to fans of cream horns what Highclere Castle is to fans of Downton Abbey.)
The bakery makes its own bread, and with the sandwiches you get your choice of the prairie bread, Scotch Oatmeal, whole wheat or Parker House. The prairie bread was great toasted, and I had visions of eating a thick slice for breakfast one morning with butter and strawberry jam. I kicked myself later for forgetting to buy a loaf.
Other sandwich options include hot pastrami, curried chicken salad, tuna melt, the Rachel, a Thanksgiving sandwich and the usual chicken salad, roast beef, turkey, tuna salad and BLT. Prices range from $4.95 for the BLT to $6.25 for the Westbrook Club. Most are $5.95. There are also two breakfast sandwiches served on bread or a croissant until 11 a.m.
The soup of the day was tomato basil. It was thick, with small chunks of tomatoes, flecks of basil and crunchy bits of onion and bell pepper. It was a little bland, and there was a little too much onion and bell pepper, but it was better than the creamy stuff that comes in a can.
If you’re thinking of eating in, get there early. There are only three tables with four seats each, and if you get the one by the door you’ll be blasted with cold air whenever another customer (and there are many) walk in. Another small table in the middle of the room holds containers of hot cross buns, a reminder that Easter comes early this year.
Do yourself a favor and grab something from the pastry case before you leave, even if you save it for later. My favorites are their Boston cream pie muffins and the peanut butter-frosted brownies. They also sell chocolate-filled croissants, cinnamon buns, eclairs, cookies, whoopie pies, mousse bombs, cream puffs and so on. And on and on.
WHERE: 33 Brackett St., Westbrook; 856-7333
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Sandwiches are served from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Monday
WAIT: About 10 minutes
PARKING: Very small lot and street parking
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: No