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Meredith Goad

Meredith Goad has harvested oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, eaten reindeer in Finland and sipped hot chai in the Himalayas. She writes the weekly Soup to Nuts column and enjoys a good cocktail.

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Posted: September 23, 2018

Pop over to Yarmouth for this pop-up lunch

Written by: Meredith Goad

Every week, chef Christian Hayes, owner of Dandelion Catering Co. in Yarmouth, posts a special menu on the company’s Facebook page, and it’s guaranteed to make your mouth water every time.

On Wednesdays, Dandelion Catering offers pop-up lunches for just a short time – 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – but if you work in Portland and can tear yourself away to wander up to Yarmouth, the 20-minute drive is well worth it. The catering company is located in the old Sparhawk Mill on Bridge Street; just drive down into the main parking lot and climb the wooden stairs (or go up the wooden ramp, if you need wheelchair access). A sign at the open door will point you in the right direction, through an empty room and to the left. Let the noise from the catering kitchen guide you.

The pop-up lunches are, apparently, a dress rehearsal for the restaurant Hayes and his wife/co-owner Christine plan to open in the mill sometime next year using the money that Hayes won on a March episode of the Food Network show “Chopped.” Hayes told me he hopes to hold the Wednesday lunches through October, until the weather gets colder and construction on the restaurant starts.

The day I visited, there was a steady stream of customers coming in and out, picking up containers of food to go. There’s no seating in the catering kitchen area, so you’ll have to take your lunch outside or back to the office. I had planned to settle on a park bench overlooking the Royal River and enjoy a relaxed lunch break there, even though it was a bit chilly outside, but an annoying weed whacker in the parking area ruined my plans. I couldn’t escape the whine of the whacker, even from the confines of my car, so I just drove back to the office and showed off my fancy lunch to my hungry co-workers.

This had to be the most elegant lunch I’ve ever gotten for an Eat and Run review, considering the budget is limited to $15. Usually, it’s burgers or fried seafood or some kind of sandwich. At Dandelion, you have a choice: It’s $10 for an entree and a side, or an entree and two sides of $14. On my visit, the entrees were: ginger soy beef cheeks with braised Asian pear, shiitake mushrooms and herb salad on a kimchi pancake (what I chose); a pulled lime chicken tostada with heirloom salsa and lime sour cream; and a brown butter butternut squash croissant with savory cranberry sage chutney and cheese.

I decided to try two sides, so I asked for the roasted vegetables with lemon and fresh mint, and also the apple and fig salad with crumbled halloumi, pistachio and yogurt. The third available side dish was chamomile- and vinegar-braised potatoes with crispy pancetta and greens.

The beef cheeks were the star. I loved every element of this dish. I thought perhaps because of the color that the pancake was made with sweet potatoes, but Hayes told me the kimchi and scallions were actually held together with a batter of soy sauce and brine with eggs and flour. The pancake was packed with flavor and just spicy enough for a medium-sized kick. I also loved the small slice of braised pear and found myself wishing I had one more slice. But I guess that’s the mark of good food, right? It leaves you wanting more.

The veggies included carrots, zucchini, onions and fennel. They were roasted in canola oil, then dressed in olive oil, lemon and cider vinegar.

The apple and fig salad was also above average, but I would have liked a few more pistachios in the mix. I found the pistachios, for some reason, really brought all of the flavors together in one bite.

In previous weeks, entrees have included a pork tenderloin sandwich with sauerkraut, cheddar, beer-braised onions, red onion grape jam and honey mustard and a crab cake sandwich with cornichon Old Bay tartar and pickled cabbage.

If you have room, desserts are also available. I did not partake because the lunch was so filling, but I do remember that one of the options was a cookie.

In short, this pop-up lunch is a delicious bargain, and a great preview of coming attractions. I can’t wait for the expansion to see what else Hayes has up his sleeve.

DANDELION CATERING

WHERE: 81 Bridge St., Suite 101, Yarmouth; (207) 847-0023, dandelioncatering.com or check the weekly pop-up menu on the company’s Facebook page.
HOURS: The pop-up lunches are available only from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays
WAIT: No wait
PARKING: Private lot
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

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