To be honest, there's not much to distinguish The Humble Gourmet, a small café and catering establishment on Pleasant Street, from any other sandwich joint in Brunswick. Like Wild Oats and Big Top Deli, which seem to have the Bowdoin market cornered, Humble offers freshly made, vegetarian-friendly sandwiches, soups, and pastries. The staff is spunky (but humble!), the décor eclectic, and the walls are pasted with community announcements.
So why do I plan to visit Humble with frequency? It's 20 minutes away and what is found there is available at Wild Oats, for gosh sakes!
Friends, gather 'round. You better believe that there's a better cookie than the ones served in Thorne Dining Hall. Sure, those discs of dough do stay firm in milk and they are enormous, but don't you really just want something gooey? Of course. We all do. We're all searching for goo?and it's at Humble, so go get it!
Right, I hear you, maybe it's "undercooked." But bacterial infections be damned?that goo is good! It's crunchy on top, with a delicate crust, and by the time you're through it's melting in your mouth. I had the last one on the counter the day I visited, so I think other patrons know the secret, too. Come on and join the club!
There are some other reasons to take the walk (or drive, please, in this weather) down Pleasant Street to Humble. My ham sandwich's house-baked bread was light and fluffy, a good companion to the delicate flavors within it: ham, melted cheddar, tomato, lettuce, and tangy honey mustard. The accompanying potato salad was light and not too creamy, so even this mayonnaise-phobe thought it was tasty. The pumpkin chowdah, colored like an organic creamsicle, wanted a bit more pumpkin flavor, but it was still very comforting and not frighteningly thick.
There are also a variety of homemade pastries to tempt you, such as mini apple pies, monster chocolate-orange scones, and whoopie pies with vanilla and pumpkin frosting. Other sandwich options include a chicken-almond-tarragon salad, hot pastrami on rye, and more commonly found combos of turkey or ham and veggies. There are also wraps filled with veggies and hummus, brie, smoked cheddar, tuna, or chicken with a spicy Thai sauce.
Prices are comparable to Wild Oats and Big Top; they hover around five dollars for most sandwiches and wraps, a bowl of soup is $3.75, and that Wonder Cookie is 90 cents.
The curios atop the tables and shelves are worth the visit to Humble, too. An old GeoSafari globe?the one with buttons and lights?was sitting beside me at my table, and a life-size Barbie doll head?just the head?was standing erect by the door, watching over patrons. A Bowdoin banner dons the back wall of the kitchen, which is in full view from the dining area, and, even more in the Bowdoin spirit, a bright yellow sun stretched its rays across the back wall.
Market Surveys of America (no doubt a prestigious firm) has ranked Humble Gourmet Midcoast Maine's #1 catering establishment since 1999 and I'm betting some of that rank can be attributed to those Wonder Cookies. If you choose to cater your next garden party with Humble Gourmet, get a plate of them. Or just walk down Pleasant Street, just past Brunswick Diner, and try one yourself.
(Sniff, sniff...I smell change! What's that? Ah yes, this review is written in the first person! Everyone needs to try something new once in a while...It felt good!)