If there’s one thing I learned growing up in a tourist town in southern Maine, it’s to avoid Route 1 in the summer. That habit of finding alternate routes means I avoid certain areas altogether, like the often crowded Dunstan Corner section of Scarborough.
But a work assignment recently brought me that way around lunchtime, and I took advantage of the opportunity to stop into On The Vine Marketplace. The market opened in 2015 in the old 1940 Dunstan Schoolhouse, which was later a buffet restaurant. The Scarborough location is the second On The Vine opened by Abel and Angela Schultze and Scott Edwards, who launched the first market in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 2006.
On The Vine features hundreds of local products – including a nice selection of produce from area farms – along with homemade salads, pasta dishes and smoothies. A salad bar and soup are also available every day, along with a bakery full of tempting cakes, cupcakes and other desserts.
At the deli counter, I debated several options before settling on a Reuben ($7.99), which came piled with a generous amount of shaved corn beef, crispy sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese sandwiched between slices of marble rye and pressed on a panini. It was a classic take on the sandwich – nothing out of the ordinary, but satisfying. I hadn’t ordered anything to go with it, but ended up adding a side of fresh cucumber, tomato and dill salad ($2.25) after seeing the irresistible spread of homemade salads in the deli case. I was glad I did.
It was a pleasant store to walk around while I waited for my lunch: There were tall ceilings, lots of windows to let in the sun and plenty of Maine-made products I hadn’t seen before. A regular customer, reusable shopping bag looped over her shoulder, talked enthusiastically to another customer and a cashier about how much she loves having a market with local products within walking distance of her house.
When I first walked into the store, there was only one other customer there. By the time I left, it was filling up with people ordering sandwiches and grabbing items from a cooler of ready-to-heat meals, including pot roast and chicken piccata. Behind the sandwich counter, a clerk took call-in orders for sandwiches.
On the day I visited, the traffic on Route 1 wasn’t the nightmare summer scenario I imagined, and I was pleased by how easy it is to access the parking lot from Payne Road, making On The Vine a quick and easy drive from my South Portland office. I may have waited two years to check out the market, but it definitely won’t be that long before I return.
WHERE: 591 Route 1, Scarborough, 303-0074. onthevinemarketplace.com
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
WAIT: About five minutes
PARKING: Large parking lot next to building
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes