I got there just as the French Onion soup was getting wiped off the specials’ board. Drat. There’s something about this longtime Brunswick breakfast and lunch spot that makes me want to have soup. And something about slopping down snowy sidewalks to get there, after last week’s back-to-back storms, made me want a soup oozing with cheese.
However, the Broadway Deli never lacks for options. The roast turkey sandwich special, which promised bacon and avocado on Texas toast, also sounded alluring in a calorie bomb kind of way. So did the eggs Benedict on Robinhood Meetinghouse biscuits.
I drank from the mug of good coffee that my cheery server brought me and debated it. As I watched people out there on the sidewalks, enjoying the sunshine after the storm, and admired the view of Wilbur’s Candy store and the Tontine Mall, I realized I didn’t much care what I had; I was just happy to be sitting in such a pleasant spot, in what is one of my favorite blocks in my hometown, with a warm beverage and a book to read.
I’d arrived with the late rush, mostly an older crowd that seemed like regulars, so it took a bit for my server to take my order. I asked abut the quiche of the day. “Spinach and cheddar and onion and bacon,” my server told me. “And it’s gluten free. The crust is made with red bliss potatoes.”
Interesting. I’ve been dabbling with gluten-free since the New Year, so that worked. It came as a special with a cup of soup, but since the remaining options, turkey vegetable and split pea, didn’t sound enticing, I opted for a side salad with Vidalia dressing.
It took at least 10 minutes to arrive, which again, wasn’t the worst, since I had the book, the addictive horror of Twitter and the view to keep me busy. I made some dinner dates, gaped at the latest, read four pages of a new novel and just when I was thinking, “where’s that quiche,” it arrived.
When is the last time you really noticed the crust on a quiche? It’s almost always just a slightly sodden millimeter at the bottom of the eggy custard, so the red bliss potato substitution hardly made a difference, except health-wise (I’m talking about the lack of butter here, not gluten, as the main source of that increased healthiness). I will say that this was a decent but fairly dull quiche. I never found any bacon and there appeared to be only one nice chunk of cheese. I salted. I peppered. It still didn’t exactly jump off the plate. But it felt prepared with love and care – maybe just love and care designed for a palate that embraces the bland. The salad dressing was thick and unappealingly sweet, but the salad itself was fresh and reasonably varied (red peppers, sliced red onion, tomatoes with some color to them). There was also a side of potatoes that required salt and were just a tiny bit dry, but totally serviceable.
Growing up, this spot was the Kennebec Fruit Co., known for having negligible amounts of fruit by the ’60s and ’70s, but an awesomely vintage vibe of darkness, mystery and stacks of the big out-of-town papers, like the Globe. I still miss it, even if I have no need to buy cigars and I get my milk down the street at Hannaford. But it was a gathering spot and a landmark and the screen door made a screen door sound like no other establishment I remember from childhood.
But I’m not going to mourn it. The Broadway Deli has an equally loyal clientele, the tin ceilings still hang above you and the food might not have dazzled but it felt like being fed by a friend. For $12 with tip, but nonetheless, a friend.
WHERE: 142 Maine St., Brunswick, 729-7781. On Facebook
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
WAIT: 10 minutes
PARKING: On street
HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: No