The newly opened market on the East End offers hot and cold sandwiches for lunch.
This is an article about food, but it’s also an article about boats.
The recent opening of the Hilltop Superette on Munjoy Hill prompted a visit. I loved the old Colucci’s Hilltop Market, and like many I was sad to read about the fire that gutted the place and then excited to learn of its reopening as a new, full-service market.
But I also have a wooden boat, and my brothers and I are behind schedule getting it in the water this summer. We needed paint and varnish, among other things, so I combined a trip to Hamilton’s Marine with a trip to the Hilltop Superette.
Food came first. I arrived at about 11:30 a.m., just before the lunch crowd.
The new market at the corner of Congress and North streets is large, bright and inviting. I ordered at the counter, looking up at the friendly counter man whose face was partially hidden by a large chalkboard menu.
The starter menu is limited to Italian sandwiches, burgers and things like a turkey club, chicken salad wrap, BLT and a steak-and-cheese sub. There’s also a cooler of premade sandwiches and salads, which looked very good, and pizza by the slice. You can also order a whole pizza, but the slices are set out for grab-and-go.
The market almost certainly will expand the menu in time, and it’s worth noting that it also sells Tony’s doughnuts for $1.29 each.
Gluttonously, I ordered what is known as the Basket ($7.99), which includes two burgers (or cheeseburgers) and an order of fries. Don’t ask me why. I think I was lured by the chalkboard tease of 100 percent Maine-raised ground beef. But it was way too much food, especially on a hot summer day.
About 10 minutes later, the grill cook called my name and handed me a massive cardboard container loaded with a hamburger, cheeseburger and perfectly crisp golden fries. I squeezed ketchup and mustard on the burgers and ketchup on the fries, and made my way to my car.
I drove to Hamilton Marine and ate my lunch in the parking lot. The quarter-pound patties were nicely grilled, and the cheese was perfectly melted. The buns were chewy and fresh. I loved the fries, as well. They were fried all the way through, making them crisp but not greasy.
My mistake was not ordering just a single burger. A single hamburger is just $2.49, and I should have stopped there. The double-burger basket is big enough for two.
After I finished lunch, I went in the marine supply store and dropped nearly $100 on a quart of varnish and a quart of bottom paint. All the while, I justified my lunch knowing I’d work it off as soon as I got to working on the boat.
WHERE: 135 Congress St., Portland; 207-773-8000; www.facebook.com/hilltopsuperette
HOURS: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 6 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday
PARKING: On the street
WAIT: Less than 10 minutes for a burger
HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: Yes