Mount Vernon’s Post Office Café: Spectacular soups, salads, sandwiches, and specials.
Most every small town in Maine has a local café or coffee/sandwich shop where locals gather to solve the world’s problems and eat so-so food, adequate and filling but nothing to write home (or a review) about. Mount Vernon’s Post Office Café is a very big exception to this rule. Chef/owner Robert Wallack offers world (really!) class food. If you think this is just so much hometown cheerleading, I challenge you to drive up here and eat at the café. I guarantee it won’t be your only visit. The café has been drawing folks from all over Maine – and our summer visitors seem to take a lot of their meals there, judging from the cars I see outside the café every summer day. The café offers breakfast and lunch from 7 am to 2 pm Wednesday through Sunday from Columbus to Memorial Day. When ordering, think of the letter “S.” The café’s soups, salads, sandwiches, and specials are spectacular. I often walk the mile from our house to the café on Fridays for Bob’s elegant creamy haddock chowder. The two mile round trip makes me feel virtuous. I’m also hooked on the Muffuletta – a sandwich I fell for in New Orleans. Bob’s is just as good as the “Nawlins” version. Chef Bob is an interesting character, having retired from the newspaper business to devote his time to cooking. On the café’s website, www.oldepostofficecafe.com, he writes very interesting columns that include recipes in a section called “In My Kitchen.” If you are wondering from whence he gets his inspiration, here’s the lead paragraph in one of Bob’s columns titled “Language Of Food.” “Clara Curante didn’t speak a word of English. But we talked at length nonetheless through the language of food during a recent rip to Umbria, Italy’s agricultural heartland known for its truffle-filled woodlands, its olive oil groves and its vineyards.” Bob leads trips to Italy for folks who want an immersion in food and cooking. You may not be able to afford the high price of that trip, but you can certainly afford a trip to Mount Vernon for Bob’s tasty menu that is influenced by his Italian interests. I liked Bob’s column about barbecue. Here’s how he kicked off that column. “Let’s get something straight here, right off the bat. This column is about barbecue, which is a noun, not barbecuing, which is a verb. Barbecue is the end product of cooking meat or poultry slowly over hardwood charcoal. Barbecuing is something New Englanders do on their back deck in the warm-weather months; fire up the grill and throw on some dogs or burgers or steaks. What they’re really doing is grilling – cooking quickly over high heat to seal in flavors and add a charred taste to the meat. Grilling certainly has its place in the world of outdoor cookery, but it ain’t barbecue – no way, no how.”
Linda (actually more George)
Lin’s out working in her garden, so I’ll add a few words here for her. Linda will often ask Bob about the ingredients in a particular dish we’ve just enjoyed at the café, and he’ll email her the recipe later that day. I am certain not every chef will do that for a customer! Lin is in a rut, too, when it comes to the café, because at least half the time she orders the same sandwich: a “Californian” with lemon chicken, avocado (that’s the hook for Lin), red onions, muenster and house made herb mayo on Borealis Italian bread. Oh yes, you can buy their baked goods including great bread and amazing pies here, as well as the muffuletta mix and other things. Once a month the community gathers for the café’s music night, when Bob whips up astonishing dinner specials. Dates for those can be found on the website or by calling 207-293-4978. You can make a reservation for music night dinners. I haven’t mentioned the café’s breakfasts, but they are to-die for, wonderful imaginative omelets, fabulous pastries, great coffee choices – and Bob will cook anything you want. Just ask him. strongly suggest a drive to beautiful Mount Vernon. You may never leave.