As I headed down Washington Street in Bath, I checked my GPS a couple of times. I was looking for lunch, not mansions with views of the Kennebec. Siri had to be leading me astray.
But there was a folding wooden sign curbside, emblazoned with the word “Cafe,” and when I turned into the sizable parking lot, another one leading me to my destination, Run with Soup Cafe. The restaurant is tucked into part of a former hospital, now occupied by artist studios, apartment dwellers and other leasable space.
I arrived right at 12:30 p.m., and there were a couple people ahead of me in line and others coming in the door behind me who were clearly regulars. The couple behind me groaned as the mac and cheese, a “soup” special, was erased from the board. There were some appealing salads on the chalkboard, including an Asian chicken salad for $9.95, but I felt as though I had to have soup at a place called Run with Soup. I passed on one involving cauliflower and smoked gouda and another with sweet potatoes and peanuts, opting for a cup of sausage lentil with a half order of the day’s special sandwich, a tuna club.
These were totally random choices, but the convivial atmosphere, with patrons and cafe staffers addressing each other by first names, led me to believe this was going to be the kind of place where maybe you couldn’t go wrong. (Later, I noticed that I could have tried all three soups for $6.95, if I’d been eating there.) From what I was hearing in the line, I’d be a fool not to try something from the sweets department, so I added a piece of double chocolate banana bread to my order. The total was $12.95.
I’d asked for it to go because I had an appointment to get to, and it arrived, nicely packed for my short trip, in about five minutes. That gave me time to see a few of the tuna sandwiches go out with side salads from the deli ($9.95), which included a yummy looking quinoa, beet and feta option. I also peered a case packed with a selection of soups packed to go. The Flu Chaser, a chicken soup with rice noodles, caught my eye; when winter sets in, maybe I’ll swing by and pick some of that up.
I wished I had more time to sit at the cafe. While overall the setting is fairly institutional (the old ambulance bay seems to be right next to the cafe), from the display of sweets to the brightly colored chalkboards filled with specials, the place was cheering and everyone seemed so happy to be there, including all of the workers. But when I unpacked my lunch back home, I found that the grilled sandwich, served on thick slabs of homemade white bread, was still warm and that there was some crazy, unexpected alchemy happening between the tuna salad, swiss cheese, the bits of bacon and the chunks of pickled red onion. The soup was good, too, although I had some regrets about not trying the cauliflower with gouda instead. But there will be another trip back to Run with Soup, and I have no doubt there will be something delicious awaiting me then, too.
WHERE: 1356 Washington St., Bath
INFO: (207) 389-6931 or facebook.com/RunWithSoup
WHEN: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Closed Saturday and Sunday
WAIT: About 5 minutes
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes