Location: 87 Maine Street, Brunswick
Notes: Could the great state of Maine be the last remaining stronghold for the lowly wrap sandwich? I thought that, as a nation, we had agreed that “wrap sandwiches” are awful, and not at all sandwiches, in the same way that a taco is not a sandwich, and a hot dog is not a sandwich. I thought that we had collectively filed them away as glorified cold salad burritos, chalked them up to more goofiness from California, along with Rollerblading, hackeysacks, and putting chicken on pizza. In Maine, though, the wrap (and its dopey Italian cousin, the panini) occupies great broad sections of many an overhead menu chalkboard, in whole wheat, spinach, and gluten-free varieties that long ago abandoned any respect for the careful balance of bread, meat, and cheese that make a truly great sandwich. When I see a menu that features lots of wraps, I can’t help but feel like the shop is paying more attention to an expired trend, than they are to creating truly outstanding sandwiches.
At the Little Dog Coffee Shop, most sandwiches are offered as either a wrap, or a toasted panini. It’s just one part of the large coffee shop’s decidedly 1990s atmosphere, completed by the gallery-style artwork, the dark red paint, the worn oversized furniture, and the bored, disaffected staff. Today, I opted for the “Turkey BLT,” grilled and pressed panini-style. I was very impressed by the care given to the choice of the sandwich’s ingredients, and the pedigree of those ingredients is listed right on the menu. The smoked turkey comes from Bisson Farms in Topsham. The focaccia is baked offsite. There are big, thick slices of sharp cheddar cheese, and beautiful, thinly-sliced tomatoes. There’s a layer of homemade basil-infused mayonnaise inside. This careful selection of ingredients is reflected in the sandwich’s nearly $8 price tag.
Unfortunately, they didn’t assemble into a sandwich I particularly enjoyed. The few meager bits of smoked turkey were buried under a ton of hot lettuce, and the quality of the cheddar and tomato was obscured by the oddly tangy basil mayonnaise. The bacon was barely a factor, its thin, microwaved quality adding neither flavor nor crunch. The focaccia was pleasingly crusty and chewy, though perhaps a little intense for the sandwich’s other ingredients. The combination tasted rather puzzlingly like herbal tea. I ate the first half, picked apart the rest, and tossed most of it. If I have the urge to think about Kurt Cobain, watch someone draw in a sketchbook, drink coffee from a presspot, use my laptop in public, or get my nose pierced, I will head first to the Little Dog Coffee Shop. I will probably not return for this sandwich.