When I put out a query on Facebook for a good breakfast spot in the Brunswick area recently, the recommendations came flooding in for a newish spot in Topsham called Blueberries Food & Drink, just over the green bridge on Bowdoin Mill Island, and I’ve been meaning to get there ever since. Last week, on yet another frigid, grey-sky kind of day, I slipped in for a quick lunch about an hour before the 2 p.m. closing time.
Although it was crowded in the casual, cozy dining room, there were two tables open, including one in the way back, far from the door. (It’s my intention to avoid doors as much as possible until May.) Blueberries, which opened in January 2014, doesn’t have the river view that its close neighbor, the Sea Dog Brewing Company, has, but the space itself is completely inviting. It’s lofty and clean, with lots of blonde wood, a cheery chalkboard menu hanging up front and the kitchen tucked away behind it.
You get my drift; I’m both educated and judgey on tacos.
While I was waiting I drank a good cup of coffee and enjoyed the atmosphere. Owner Drew Victory told me later that the space had sat empty for at least a year after the previous occupant, The Barn Door Cafe, closed, but he knew right away when he saw the restaurant that it would be just right for the comforting blend of classic American and California-Mexican-influenced breakfasts and lunches he wanted to serve. All the customers around me seemed happy and content, most enjoying the company of at least a friend or two.
My tacos arrived promptly and though they seemed rather naked on a plate without any accompaniments, they were looked fresh and nicely assembled. The chipotle chicken had the consistency of stewed meat and plenty of flavor. I’d skipped the offer of guacamole because with coffee and a tip, I’d already gone over my $10 limit. There was plenty on this taco anyway, cheddar, cilantro, onion and a dollop of pico de gallo salsa. But the ingredients were in fine enough balance to keep the innards inside; I only used a fork to scoop up the taco droppings twice. And that’s the thing; with a good taco, a professional taco, forks aren’t necessary at all. A taco shouldn’t be stuffed to the point where pieces and parts dribble out onto the plate, and frequently that’s what happens at restaurants, especially in New England, that merely dabble in Mexican food. This was no amateur taco. It wasn’t riveting, but it was better than serviceable.
The fish taco was topped with a very fresh, nicely cooked chunk of fish, and a spicy remoulade lent it some pizazz. If I’d made it, I’d have been pleased but not pumped. I’d want to add some hot sauce or maybe a splash of tomatillo salsa. Maybe sliced radishes, which dress up a taco and make you feel like you’ve had a vegetable, or at least, a small portion of one.
Speaking of portions, I wasn’t hungry, technically, but I wanted some other flavor and texture. A free side of chips and guacamole or a spoonful of rice and beans would have made these tacos that much more satisfying. Since I was inclined to linger with my book and the cup of coffee the friendly waitress had just refilled, I got up to check out the bakery offerings at the front counter. My servers steered me toward the whoopie pie ($2.49), telling me that the cream filling was particularly delicious. I took one back to the table, unwrapped it and while slightly mystified by the cake — it was like black magic layer cake, no typical whoopie pie crusted dome — had to agree the cream was meltingly delicious, soft and fluffy and just right, sweetness wise.
Next time, I’m trying the fresh roasted turkey club, which on-line reviews cite as being a real find, and a cup of whatever soup they’ve got brewing back there (I almost ordered a ginger and vegetable chicken soup during my visit). And the time after that, I’m going to order a breakfast burrito. Or maybe a lunch burrito. Or a cranberry chicken salad sandwich. Obviously, there are going to have to be multiple visits to Blueberries Food & Drink. I’m already picturing a walk across the bridge from Brunswick with my sister some bright sunny spring day that ends with us debating the merits of whoopie pies that break with convention.
4 Bowdoin Mill Island, Topsham | 207-725-5100 | facebook.com/blueberriesfood
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Daily specials appear on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes