Today’s sandwich is the “Haddock Slider” from Len’s Fish and Chips. It features twin haddock sandwiches on butter-griddled buns with tartar sauce on the side.
Location: 17 Bow Street, Brunswick
Notes: In general, I’m not crazy about the “slidification” of sandwiches. First, it’s technically inaccurate; a “slider” isn’t a small sandwich, it’s a two ounce hamburger steamed over a bed of onions, specific to the diner culture of New Jersey (but more on that later). Little itty bitty lobster rolls, cheesesteaks, buffalo chicken, pulled pork, and grilled cheese sandwiches aren’t sliders. They’re tiny sandwiches. If you want to eat four sandwiches, that’s fine, but I think you should cop to it, and not try to mentally comfort yourself by thinking that, because you only had “sliders” for lunch, that you are on the path to any sort of physical fitness.
My ridiculously firm stance against tiny sandwiches completely falls apart, however, in the face of the haddock sliders from Len’s Fish & Chips in Brunswick. When confronted with an unfamiliar menu and some uncertainty about what to order, it’s very difficult for me to avoid defaulting to a fried haddock sandwich. Nearly everyplace in Maine serves them, and even when they’re kind of ho-hum, they’re still pretty remarkable. Crispy, golden-fried haddock, with just the right amount of firmness to its flaky flesh, with a flavor ever-so-slightly stronger than cod, with a smear of tartar sauce and maybe even some cheese on a butter-griddled bun defines summertime in Maine, for me, even more than the more widely-celebrated lobster roll.
Based on the empty parking lot and dining room, as well as the restaurant’s odd location next to the Route 1 onramp, I didn’t have spectacularly high hopes about this sandwich. But when the kid behind the counter suggested I try the haddock sliders ($6.99) for the same price as the haddock sandwich, my spirits were buoyed. The only thing better than a haddock sandwich is two haddock sandwiches, and in this case, I was absolutely willing to set aside my bad attitude regarding the whole “slider” thing.
I’m so glad I did. Flipping open the Styrofoam clamshell to-go container, I was immediately delighted by my lunch: Two starchy white hamburger buns (the kind that are sold 99 cents per pack of eight), griddled lightly in butter, with two large pieces of fried haddock filet hanging over the edges of the bun, a generous side of tartar sauce, a handful of wavy chips, and a pickle spear. The haddock was cooked perfectly, firm flesh dusted with a light crumb coating, presented simply on two bare, warm, squishy buns.
At $6.99 the sandwiches made for an inexpensive, easy lunch, featuring Maine seafood done exactly the way it should be: It’s simple, it’s well-prepared, and it’s dirt cheap. We’re going to have a great summer together.