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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: August 1, 2016

Tucked away in a plaza near a shoe store, Kelly’s Bakehouse & Deli is worth looking for

Written by: Ray Routhier
A barbecue chicken melt sandwich at Kelly's Bakehouse & Deli in South Portland. Photo by Joel Page/Staff Photographer

A barbecue chicken melt sandwich at Kelly’s Bakehouse & Deli in South Portland. Photo by Joel Page/Staff Photographer

Really good sandwiches on fluffy, fresh bread would be enough to make me think hard about going back to Kelly’s Bakehouse & Deli.

But the cupcake case sealed the deal for me.

I had already ordered my lunch when I started eying the incredible selection of cupcakes – and cheesecake and coffee cake too – and became transfixed. It was like looking at a painting by Picasso or Winslow Homer and feeling the color and texture drawing you in. There were carrot cake ones, strawberry-topped ones, one with a peanut butter cookie on top and one with chopped Butterfinger candy bars in the frosting. Later, I went on the Facebook page and found a cannoli cupcake and one that was filled with lemon curd and topped with lemon meringue.

I grew up in an age when cupcakes were made from a box mix and, if you were getting very fancy, could be topped with sprinkles. So, seeing so many creative cupcakes in one place sort of blew my mind.

Kelly’s Bakehouse & Deli is tucked away in a small plaza on Route 1, near the Scarborough line, and next to a Red Wing Shoe store. But the cupcakes – and the sandwiches – are worth looking for. The place has a few tables, but it seems situated for take-out traffic.

The day I went, I ordered two sandwiches for two days’ worth of lunches. Both were $7.25, so I got two sandwiches for the price of one lunch at a lot of other places.

One of my selections was the house chicken salad sandwich on soft multi-grain bread. The chicken was cut in tender chunks, dressed with just enough (but not too much) mayonnaise and mixed with craisins and pepitas, a kind of pumpkin seed. The seeds gave the chicken salad a nice little crunch but weren’t so hard as to be distracting.

The other sandwich I sampled was a barbecue chicken melt, which included two plump chicken breast pieces topped with bacon, cheese, lettuce and tomato and a tangy barbecue sauce. It came on a very fluffy and fresh bulky roll, with flour still visible on the outside. The roll was the perfect texture for sopping up the sauce in the sandwich. It was nice and soft and absorbent inside, but hard enough on the crust so that the bun didn’t get all soggy.

And the bacon was nice and crisp, which isn’t always the case when bacon is a secondary component of a sandwich.

Some of the other sandwiches on the menu that tempted me included a curry chicken salad, including grapes, apples, red pepper and curried mayo, and a roast beef with herbed cream cheese. The menu also includes a Buffalo chicken wrap, a chicken Caesar wrap and a BLT. There is also homemade macaroni and cheese with three (sometimes more) cheeses ($6.25) and several salads.

The Bakehouse Salad ($6.95) features fresh mixed greens with Kelly’s special Maple Munch mix, Gorgonzola cheese and sesame ginger dressing. There are also breakfast sandwiches that allow you to create your own. You can start with sourdough or multi-grain bread, an English muffin or a wrap, then add fried or scrambled eggs. You can top that with American, Swiss or Provolone cheese; bacon, ham or sausage and onions, peppers, tomatoes or lettuce. Plus, you can add steak ($2). The sandwich base price is $3.25, and most toppings are 50 cents or 75 cents each.

And what else would go really great with a breakfast sandwich?

A cupcake, of course.

"Nutta Butta" filled cupcakes at Kelly's Bakehouse & Deli Photo by Joel Page/Staff Photographer

“Nutta Butta” filled cupcakes at Kelly’s Bakehouse & Deli Photo by Joel Page/Staff Photographer

KELLY’S BAKEHOUSE & DELI

WHERE: 798 Main St. (Route 1), South Portland; 536-0085; Facebook
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
WAIT: About five minutes.
PARKING: Yes
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

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