Circumstances unrelated to food often dictate your enjoyment a meal.
If you’re feeling rushed, the slightest transgression on the part of the server or chef might set you over the edge. A chatty diner at a nearby table could spoil the mood.
On the other hand, if you’re dining with someone you love and enjoying a conversation, a mediocre meal might taste like the best thing ever. If you just got a raise at work – I can dream – you might be feeling so flush you splurge for appetizers, salads and dessert to turn a meal into a feast.
One day last week, I was feeling much of the above, minus the flush part. I was in a hurry, eager to get home for a theater date at 8. I had to pick up food, but it needed to be quick and something that would hold well for my drive home to southern Maine.
The last time we caught a show at Ogunquit, we hoped to grab a meal afterward. The show got out so late, we had no options for a meal out and settled for filler food at a convenience store on our drive home.
We were not going to make that same mistake twice. But we also didn’t want to eat a hearty meal to avoid filling up too much and risk feeling bloated all night.
I stopped at a new sandwich shop in Sanford called Papa’s Place. It opened earlier this summer, and I knew nothing about it until co-worker suggested it.
I couldn’t find much information about Papa’s online, other than an address and a single favorable review posted by a previous diner. I found no menu anywhere and had to call to confirm that Papa’s was indeed open on a weekday late afternoon.
I arrived in Sanford a few minutes before 5 and found Papa’s easily enough. It’s in a strip mall on Main Street, nearly directly across from Hannaford.
It isn’t much to look at from the outside, but it is clean and orderly inside.
A friendly and helpful counter attendant greeted me immediately as I walked in the door and directed me to a large chalkboard menu posted on a wall. I was immediately taken by the number of choices, the reasonable prices and the apparent quality of the sandwiches. These are not basic sandwiches, but well-conceived options with personalized names.
Instead of a meatball sub, I ordered the Brianna ($7.99): Homemade meatballs – and plenty of them – with diced onions and peppers, served with marinara sauce on a large sub roll (I think it was 12 inches but didn’t measure) with melted provolone.
My dinner date asked for a BLT, which translated into the Joanna ($5.99). I asked for hers on whole wheat, with just a little mayo.
I also ordered a side of cole slaw ($2) and, against my better judgment, an order of mozzarella sticks ($4.99). There also are salads, and no fewer than two dozen specialty sandwiches.
I asked for everything to go and had my meal packed and paid for within five minutes. I headed home along Route 202 through Lebanon toward Berwick. Bad choice. Road construction delayed me by about 15 minutes, which scuttled my plan to serve these still-warm sandwiches as a quick meal on the deck before heading to the theater.
The breads were soggy and limp. But we still enjoyed our choices.
My meatball sub was surprisingly robust. It had six meatballs that tasted homemade and were richly seasoned. The thick sauce was packed with green peppers and onions. Excellent. I enjoyed every bite.
The BLT tasted better than it looked. It was served on fairly plain-looking wheat bread. The moist lettuce and tomato didn’t do it any favors, but there were several bacon strips and the produce was fresh. My dining partner enjoyed it very much.
We didn’t love the slaw. There was enough to share, but it was very sweet, likely made with a sweet relish. The mozzarella sticks did not hold up well. They were congealed and had lost all their heat.
The sandwiches came with a bag of chips, which we did not need but saved for another day.
Bottom line: We enjoyed our meal on the deck and a great night at the theater.
WHERE: 789A Main St., Sanford; 490-2439
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday; closed Sunday
WAIT: Five minutes
HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: Yes