Seating was not an issue on the gray autumn day I visited The New Moon Restaurant in Pepperell Square to try its brunch menu. I arrived at mid-morning, in the middle of the week, just a short time after all the tourists had flown home for the season. It was, in short, the blandest time to visit a restaurant. The place was empty. I had my choice of any table in the house.
The lone server on duty immediately brought me a menu and began taking care of me as if, well, as if I were her only customer. When I asked just how small the small orange juice was, she brought out small, medium and large glasses so I could compare them. I could hear the two cooks in the kitchen working and chatting through the window carved out of the wall between the kitchen and dining room – the restaurant’s attempt at an open kitchen, although you can only see the staff’s heads.
The dining room has about a dozen tables, including some banquette seating. Tiny blue and white lights dangle from the ceiling, softening the atmosphere in the wood-heavy room. Cutesy T-shirts are displayed for sale on the wall; one advertising the restaurant’s cinnamon bun pancakes says, “You checking out my bunz?” A chalkboard advertised seasonal specials, including a trio of fall muffins: apple crisp, blueberry crumble and honey corn.
While I was still perusing the menu, two men came in and sat at the table right next to me. They were clearly regulars because they chatted up our friendly server and ordered their eggs “the usual” way. They soon put to rest any concerns I may have had that the empty restaurant was a bad sign: “Just think,” one of them said, “two weeks ago we couldn’t get into the place.”
It’s easy to see why this place would be a popular brunch spot in summer – and with locals year round, especially on weekends. Most items range from around $9.50 to $12, although there are some less expensive choices (stuffed French toast for $8.95, for example, or a three-egg breakfast for $6.50, served with toast and choice of home fries or baked beans). And you’ll find a few more expensive ones, such as the $12.95 Full Moon Breakfast, which comes with two eggs, two pancakes, two sausage links, two bacon strips, ham and home fries. Omelets, crepes, pancakes and waffles are also on the menu.
The lunch part of the brunch menu includes burgers, wraps, soups, salads and a wide selection of grilled sandwiches served with your choice of cole slaw, kettle chips, beans or potato salad. (The restaurant also serves dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.)
I’m a sucker for Benedicts, and New Moon offers a half dozen varieties for $9.50 each, served with home fries or baked beans. I chose the Blackstone Benedict – two poached eggs with bacon and tomato on an English muffin, drenched in Hollandaise. The eggs were poached well – I would have liked them a touch runnier, but they were by no means overcooked – and the bacon was thick and flavorful. I liked the idea of having tomato with a Benedict, but I couldn’t help but think how a fresh summer garden tomato would have transformed this likeable dish into a luscious one. Maybe I’ll have to revisit this dish next summer.
The only real disappointment were the hash browns, which tasted old, as if they’d been cooked that morning and sitting in their own grease for a couple of hours. They were lukewarm too – nearly cold – by the time they got to my table. The server softened the blow later, though, by offering me a fresh cup of coffee to go as I headed out the door.
All in all, The New Moon Restaurant is a pleasant spot to grab a morning bite, offering good food at reasonable prices.
WHERE: 17 Pepperell Square, Saco; (207) 282-2241, On Facebook
HOURS: 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily for breakfast and brunch; dinner served 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday
WAIT: About 10 minutes
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes