Egg, Cheese, and Prosciutto (Ohno! Cafe)

Location: 87 Brackett Street
Price: $3.99
Notes: After the recent writeup in the Portland Daily Sun, we decided to revisit the Ohno! Cafe. We hadn’t visited since this Summer, when we were instantly charmed by the place and the people running it, if not a tiny bit underwhelmed by their sandwiches. The piece in the Sun heaped praise on the Ohno! Cafe’s “Number One,” a breakfast sandwich made up of fried egg, “maple glazed prosciutto,” cheddar cheese and Tabasco on a plain bagel, so I tried one this morning.

The Number One is a perfect example of the kind of sandwich that I am more impressed by in theory, than I actually enjoy. An expertly fried, over-medium egg sits on a flattop-grilled bagel, with a slice of cheese and some warm prosciutto. It seemed less like the ham was “honey glazed,” and more like each cut half of the bagel was dipped ever so briefly in maple syrup. This made for a fairly sweet, sticky sandwich. The inventors of the Number One knew what they were doing in terms of balance: The salty prosciutto is tempered by the sweet syrup, and, when it gets TOO sweet, the Tabasco sauce kicks in to provide a little spice. Ultimately, the combination ends up reminiscent of a really, really high-end McDonald’s McGriddle, only made with real food. The egg and, sadly, the Cheddar cheese, are largely non-players in this sandwich. Their omission wouldn’t be noticed. I was actually most impressed by the bagel; it was chewy, and the black grill marks gave it a “toasted” quality without crisping the outside up too much.

I can see how the Number One could get in your head, particularly if the whole sweet/savory breakfast sandwich is your thing. The Ohno! Cafe is using high-quality ingredients, and assembling them in a thoughtful way. This is not, however, likely to be a breakfast option I will be returning for regularly. The whole thing just ends up being too much, with my palette being drop-kicked into too many directions, and a fortune in calories being burned through, for a sandwich that leaves me hungry and somewhat unsatisfied an hour later. Next time, I’ll get a bagel with cream cheese and get on with my day…with my hands a lot less sticky.

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as Brocavore, a blog focusing on street food culture, and the junk food-centric "Spork & Barrel." His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.

1 Comment

  1. I agree — this sandwich is like a glorified Egg McMuffin, but that sticky sweet syrup and lingering heat from the Tobasco keeps me coming back every so often to Ohno! Cafe. I’ve totally given up on their lunch offerings though — the shrimp BLT & crab cake sandwiches are average at best. Plus, it seems like they put pickle juice/spices in their starchy sides, ew.

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