Make no mistake: The barbecue chicken sandwich at the Farm to Coast Cafe is at least a three-napkin experience.
The toasted brioche bun is filled with several thick slices of ultra-tender chicken covered in bourbon barbecue sauce. On top of that lies a pile of coleslaw and pickles. Take a big bite, and slivers of creamy slaw and a pickle or two slide right out of the bun and (we hope) into the basket the sandwich is served in, not onto your chest or into your lap. A few bites in, and your hands will be a mess (napkin No. 2). Later, you may find a smear of barbecue sauce on your lower cheek, near your mouth, that requires napkin No. 3.
Whether such an experience is a pleasure or a pain depends on what kind of eater you are. I found it to be a little of both. The needle got nudged more toward the pleasureable side by the generous helping of potato salad that came along with the $8 sandwich. Made with big chunks of potatoes, it was sprinkled with bits of scallion, and I found one small slice of red pepper (I wish there had been more, but that was just the luck of the draw).
A cup of tomato bisque ($5) was thick and bold-tasting, and made me count the months until garden tomatoes arrive. I could have added a grilled cheese with the soup for $4, if I hadn’t been so eager to try the chicken. A turkey sandwich ($7) was also on the ever-changing chalkboard menu, made with miso mayo, local greens, cucumber, tomato and pickled red onion, and served on sourdough bread from Night Moves Bread + Pie, which is now located in a building on the same campus as the cafe.
The Farm to Coast Cafe was born from a food truck and catering company founded in 2017 by chef Brian Grossman. The truck still visits craft breweries and festivals on weekends, but during the week, you’ll find the chef and his staff on the second floor of the North Dam Mill in Biddeford. The cafe opened in December, and it’s basically a walk-up window for ordering. A smaller pick-up window is kept stocked with napkins and plastic cutlery. Seating is in the adjacent lobby, but it appeared when I was there that most people were ordering takeout.
Grossman makes a different focaccia pizza every day, and he has a “regular” menu of customer favorites such as steamed buns, tofu or pork banh mi, and an Italian, which the counter guy assured me was “huge.” Just about everything is made with local, seasonal ingredients, so no matter what you order, you can feel good about what you’re eating. Even the teas come from Nellie’s in South Portland. The choices are so much better than the usual sandwich shop or fast food joint.
WHERE: 2 Main St., Biddeford (in the North Dam Mill, second floor)
INFO: (207) 409-8173, farmtocoastcatering.com/cafe
HOURS: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday
WAIT: About 10 minutes
PARKING: Yes, large parking lot
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes, just inside the door to the mill there’s an elevator to the second floor for those who can’t use the short set of stairs.