It’s a beautiful midsummer day, and I’m sitting in a deli in the middle of Bridgton trying to answer the question: Is there really such a thing as too much cheese?
More on the answer in a minute.
First, about Bridgton, for those who may not know much about it other than busy Route 302 runs through it. It’s a lovely little lakes region community with a pleasing blend of old and new filling its downtown. There are bookstores, antique shops and diners that hint at a quaint bygone era, but mixed in are newer spots, like Drip, a hipster coffee joint, and Nectar, a smoothie bar that uses primarily hemp milk.
Towanda’s, a small lunch offering overlooking Main Street, tilts more toward the new side and is a wonderful option for anyone passing through Bridgton or vacationing in the area and looking to venture out.
The deli is small with only a few tables and four barstools in the front window. But it’s open. You can watch as your lunch selection is prepared, if you choose. I didn’t, but only because I was distracted by a display case of desserts, including a decadent-looking peanut butter pie that I wished I had bought.
The menu is varied: There are five specialty sandwiches, five wrap options and seven panini choices. If none of those fit your eye, you can build your own. There were some salads and soup options as well.
Even in summer, I’m a panini guy. Something about melted cheese and crispy bread.
The options at Towanda’s ranged from The Highland Lake – ham, brie and asparagus on a telera roll – to The Long Lake – grilled portabella, Grana Padano cheese (think Parmesan) and spinach on fresh multigrain bread. There were also more traditional options like a Monte Cristo or a Reuben or a grilled cheese on steroids called The Stevens Brook. Each was $8.99.
I choose The Stevens Brook, which brings us back to the cheese question. The sandwich uses Parmesan, cheddar and mozzarella pressed between Asiago cheese bread. The only respite from cheese comes from oven-roasted tomatoes.
The panini was served in a paper-lined basket with a pickle spear. No chips, but I let it slide because the sandwich was plenty big enough. The bread was browned and crunchy, the cheese warm and creamy, blended together in a swirl of flavors. Sweet, smoky, salty.
Too much cheese? I’m going to say no. It was a lot of cheese, but each variety had its own purpose, and they all worked well together.
WHERE: 103 Main St., Bridgton, 647-2755. On Facebook
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
PARKING: Not on site, but on-street parking available
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes