Today’s sandwich is the roasted turkey from The Brown Bag in Rockland. It combines roasted turkey, lettuce, and mayonnaise on oatmeal bread.
Location: 606 Main Street, Rockland
Notes: Before we dive into the relative merits of the roasted turkey sandwich at The Brown Bag in Rockland, has anyone else noticed that the “Gobbler” sandwich seems to be something of a regional specialty here in Maine? For the uninitiated, that’s a sandwich, available year round, that combines turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, sort of like the kind of thing you’d assemble late at night standing in front of the open refrigerator door the day after Thanksgiving. Sure, it’s a sandwich I’ve seen here and there across the United States, but nearly every single sandwich shop in Maine seems to sell some variation of this unusual combination. Weird, right?
The Brown Bag is no different. In fact, once you get inside the shop, you’ll notice that “The Gobbler” has extra attention drawn to it, featured on the large overhead menu in a typeface at least twice the size as the other lunchtime options. I don’t seem to have quite the same insatiable appetite for a sandwich made of leftovers as my fellow Mainers, but my eye was drawn to one particular aspect of the sandwich. At The Brown Bag, they’re roasting off fresh whole turkeys every single day, to meet the demand for both Gobblers and regular old turkey sandwiches.
Cranberry sauce or no, the combination of fresh turkey breast carved from an honest-to-goodness whole turkey with a healthy dose of mayonnaise makes for one of my all-time favorite sandwich combinations. Ignoring The Brown Bag’s enthusiasm for their Gobbler, I pressed forward with the shop’s regular roasted turkey sandwich, served by default with lettuce and mayonnaise. All of The Brown Bag’s breads are baked in house, and in spite of some intriguing daily specials (shredded wheat bread!), I opted for two slices of plain-jane fresh-baked oatmeal.
After getting the sandwich home and getting it unwrapped, I was initially a little disappointed to see that the generous amount of turkey in the sandwich seemed to be shredded, rather than carved in slices off the turkey breast, the way I had built it up in my mind. I’m trying to work on my tendency to be disappointed when things don’t match my expectations, even when the reality of that thing is better than I had even imagined it. The turkey sandwich from The Brown Bag provides a great opportunity for this kind of self-improvement; in this case, the huge shredded piles of turkey are unexpected, but brilliant. Shredding and mixing the turkey allows for a wonderful combination of white turkey breast meat, as well as the more flavorful dark meat from the thighs and drumsticks. The resulting sandwich is packed with more turkey flavor than you could ever hope to achieve, when making a sandwich at home from slimey supermarket turkey cold-cuts. A thin layer of romaine lettuces adds just the right amount of crunch, with the mayo helping to combat the dryness inherent in shredded turkey. The bread was delicious, pleasantly squishy and just sturdy enough to contain the piles of shredded turkey within.
If there’s any room for improvement in this excellent sandwich, it might be in the addition of a fourth element; I’d like to add a slice of cheddar or Swiss cheese, to lend a lovely creaminess to the sandwich. It’s purely a personal preference, and an option I’ll ask for next time.
Featuring carefully-prepared, high-quality ingredients, the roasted turkey sandwich at The Brown Bag is one of the best “higher-end” sandwiches I’ve had so far in Rockland. Unwrapping a sandwich from The Brown Bag is like flipping open your blue plastic AIRWOLF lunchbox to find it filled with a better sandwich than your mom ever seemed to actually pack you for lunch, with a side of chips and an individually-wrapped pickle. Whether you make any customizations or not, it’s an ideal candidate for the reliable, go-to lunchtime comfort food classic that we all need.
Update! The Brown Bag has permanently closed its doors.