Roast Beef and Swiss (Fiona’s Catering)

Today’s sandwich is the roast beef and swiss cheese on roasted garlic panini from Fiona’s Catering in Brunswick. The big slices of garlic bread are griddled to greasy perfection, oozing with melted cheese, an appropriate amount of meat, and just a hint of mayonnaise.

Location: 393 Bath Road, Brunswick
I was out doing errands, rambling around Brunswick, looking for a sandwich. I’d driven out toward Orr’s and Bailey islands and was about to turn around and head for home, defeated, deflated, and sandwich-less, when I happened upon Fiona’s Catering. In a small building on the left, with a jangly lunch cart loaded up outside, sits this humble lunch counter, buzzing inside with women, preparing, baking, working the grill and counter. The atmosphere was that of regulars, but not unfriendly. There was a guy eating at one of three stools, an older lady ordering the two-ham-Italians-for-$5-special, and me, perusing the menu.

There were maybe six daily specials on the board today, including an order of baked macaroni and cheese plus two hot dogs for $3.75, chili, haddock chowder, and some other sandwiches I wasn’t interested in. Is there a sandwich more soulless than the chicken caesar salad ? I think not. Nineteen ninety-five called; it wants its What’s Up cassingle, spinach wraps, and the flannel around your waist back. That’s a burn. I went with shepard’s pie and roast beef, because it’s Tuesday. There’s fish on Friday, spaghetti Wednesday, meatloaf Monday, and more. You should call for details.

It’s a plainly cute shop, because it’s simple and unpretentious. There’s a trivia question written on a chalkboard and last week’s winner announced there as well, a refrigerator case with drinks and a few desserts, whoopie pies under a dome, bags of chips, and lots of counterspace, where one of the women was pouring batter for chocolate chip pumpkin bread into four pans. I enjoyed my few minute’s wait, reading the regular lunch menu that includes burgers, chicken parm, buffalo chicken, handcut fries, and a BLT. Fiona’s does breakfast, too.

Back in the From Away kitchen, I presented my plunder proudly. We dug in with gusto. The shepards pie is as you want it, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs hot lunch, teeming with beef and potatoes. But it was the sandwich that struck. When we pulled apart the triangles to share we were rewarded with that satisfying cheese web, unwilling to break. The meat was just right, not overcooked, but not wiggly either, which I cannot abide. And the garlicky bread tickles your nose and enhances the experience as you chew and chew. I would have liked a pickle, for snap and tart, vinegar contrast. Nothing more is needed.

Good, honest homecooking is what this is. I really liked it. Fiona’s Catering and Takeout makes me happy because it is timeless, or out of time. They’re open all day, from 6 am to 7 pm. It’s warm inside. The women doing the cooking seem like family or friends who’ve known each other since grade school. Their prices are more than reasonable and the specials are just the kind of comfort food you’re looking for on any given day of the week. We’ll be back.

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road. She creates content on the internet, on subjects ranging from summer camps to semi-precious stones to the folklore of food. With Malcolm, Jillian was one of the original “Insiders,” for the Visit Maine tourism campaign. She loves telling the stories of her adopted state, finding out-of-the-way places, and people making interesting things. Watching her daughters play in the wild woods and fields of Cushing makes her very happy.

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