We found ourselves at Mae’s Cafe and Bakery on a recent rainy day at noon – the ideal time to take advantage of both the extensive breakfast and lunch menus. We sat in a cozy window seat at this adorable Bath eatery and enjoyed bottomless mugs of coffee while we watched the rain. The dining room is spick-and -span but not without charm, in the form of local prints decorating the walls and a shelf of books to borrow while you eat. I knew I was siding with breakfast, so I began perusing the omelet, benedict, and sandwich options, which include the Oceanside: lobster, avocado, and cheddar; the Sagadahoc: Onion, Dill, Capers, Cream Cheese & Duck Trap Smoked Salmon; and the Breakfast Club: two fried Eggs, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayo on toasted sourdough, respectively. I also considered the Malted Belgian Waffles and Huevos Mae’s, before settling on a special.
I went with two eggs, baked in a puddle of creamed spinach, with a side of bacon and home fries. Creamed spinach, if you didn’t know, and we, for some reason end up on a game show together someday, is possibly my favorite food. Most often, creamed spinach is a fabulous side dish to accompany a classic steakhouse dinner, which goes a little something like this: very dry vodka martini, straight up with olives; shrimp cocktail; medium-rare strip; sauteed mushrooms; creamed spinach; half a loaf of bread with compound butter, chocolate souffle, followed by the sleep of the just and gluttonous. But back to breakfast.
Malcolm: We both realized as soon as we saw it that this may be Jillian’s ideal breakfast combination. A classic steakhouse side dish, served in a hot crock and covered in runny eggs and molten cheese? We’d never heard of such a thing, but knew immediately that it bridged the breakfast/lunch gap perfectly, and was destined to be on our own brunch menu this Spring.
I’ve never gotten to have it in the light of day before. Oh, wondrous day! Seriously, this dish makes for a fabulously decadent brunch. Is that redundant? The two eggs, sitting very prettily atop the spinach, had runny yolks which broke when forked, filling the ramekin with viscous flavor. I can’t tell you much about the bacon and potatoes, because so much of my attention and stomach capacity was focused on the main attraction. They were sturdy and well-made, I assure you. I did manage to devour all four pieces of richly buttered sourdough toast, quite nice for sopping up the fatty, cheesy bits at the bottom of my plate.
Malcolm had been jonesing for chowder for days, unable to quench his insatiable hunger for a proper cup. It ought to be so simple: cream, butter, clams, potatoes. Not too thin or thick, nothing extraneous or mysterious. We both agreed that the clam chowder at Mae’s is spectacular, neither brothy not glutinous, with bite-size chunks of skin-on red potatoes and clams finely minced. Perfectly lovely and warming, because Spring in New England can have a chill to the air.
Malcolm: Clam chowder is a deceptively tricky thing, especially when cooked in restaurant-sized quantities. Too often, it’s gummy, glutenous stuff, with a few mushy potatoes, or thin and weak, with a “broth” made of little more than half-and-half and some clam stock. After a few unsuccesful tries to scratch my clam chowder itch, I was delighted with the offering at Mae’s: a sturdy, creamy base, with perfectly cooked potato and minced clams. For even more Mainer street cred, have a cup of coffee on the side.
Malcolm: I tried the “Smoky Joe,” a $9.95 combination of grilled chicken breast, Canadian bacon, smoked gouda, BBQ sauce, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and onion on a roll. It’s an unusual combination, for me, but one I enjoyed immensely. It was a little messy, requiring careful reassembly after each bite, but I feel like when you order something topped with both barbecue sauce and mayonnaise, that kind sticky experience is probably what you had in mind, anyway.
Due to excessive fullness, and the fact that having lunch-dessert would officially make us fat food bloggers, we took a slice of cake to go. The bakery portion of Mae’s is equally cute and delightful as the dining room. We opened the cake box for “just a taste” as soon as we got home and ended up finishing the piece bite by bite, every time we walked past the kitchen, which tends to happen a lot around here. It was great cake. The tiramisu torte has four layers of chocolate with a coffee cream frosting in between. It’s gorgeous and dense and totally delicious. I highly recommend it.
In fact, I highly recommend making a trip to Mae’s, a lovely, warm, inviting place for meeting a friend for a good meal. The service was the kind of friendly you expect in a bakery in Maine – sincere, laid-back, and slightly tattooed. All the cakes look divine. It’s cozy. The food is just right – neither too lofty, nor low and greasy. There’s a tree, with a wide, round trunk, growing up through the front porch, which is just a bonus. On an overcast and windy, pouring day, we all need a little bit of Mae’s. Going here should be mandatory on rainy days. Wear red galoshes, read a novel you’ve loved since high school or forever, have brunch and cake and many cups of coffee at Mae’s, see a sad movie about a quirky girl that plays wistful indie folk-rock as the credits roll, go home and take a bubble bath and climb back in bed with a notebook and melancholy music. It’s kind of a perfect plan.