Turkey BLT (Wild Oats Bakery & Cafe)

Today’s sandwich is the “Turkey BLT” from the Wild Oats Bakery & Cafe in Brunswick. It combines smoked turkey, cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise on fresh-baked potato bread.

Location: 149 Maine Street, Brunswick
Notes: Located in the picturesque Tontine Mall in Brunswick, next to a shop that seems to exclusively sell handknit hats shaped like animal faces, and another storefront given over to some kind of racetrack for slot car enthusiasts, the Wild Oats Bakery & Cafe is surprising in its scale. Spanning the entire back half of the mall’s main level, Wild Oats enormous space is divided into no less than three different food prep areas, including a hot soup bar with fourteen varieties of hot soup and chowder (including vegan and vegetarian offerings), a sandwich station selling freshly-made sandwiches, salads, and burritos, a counter filled with breads, pies, and sweet rolls, a full-service coffee station, and a wall of coolers filled with drinks and take-home containers of macaroni and cheese, soup, and chili. The store opens into a sunlight-filled atrium, where dozens of people slurp their midday soup and chat, and the bakery’s large staff buzzes around in matching company t-shirts.

There’s a kind of mid-1990s vibe in Wild Oats Bakery & Cafe that I can’t quite put my finger on, as though it wouldn’t be at all surprising for the staff to be wearing identical Rachel haircuts and drinking chai lattes out of comically oversized red coffee cups. I fully expected to overhear someone saying “girl power” and talking about the information superhighway.

Wild Oats Bakery & CafeThis feeling continued over into my sandwich selection, a turkey BLT on freshly-baked potato bread. There were things I liked and disliked about this sandwich. I enjoyed the fact that it looked like a sandwich you would make in your own house, but that you happened to buy, instead. It wasn’t overstuffed, overblown, or made with any crazy ingredients. The potato bread was sturdy enough to contain the sandwich’s ingredients, even if the transition from the bread’s soft center to its chewy crust was a little bit abrupt. The proportions of turkey-to-vegetable-to-bacon were all exactly right, with no one ingredient outshining the others, or overpowering the bread. The tomatoes were thinly sliced and fairly flavorless (not surprising given the time of year), and the bacon had that anemic, thin, precooked quality that you find when you mass-heat it in a microwave.

Unfortunately, the comfort I found in the plain, nonthreatening, homemade quality of this sandwich was kind of its downfall. By the time I got to the second half of the sandwich, I wasn’t entirely clear why I was eating it. Or, more specifically, I would understand why I was eating it if I was at home with the refrigerator door left hanging open, Days of Our Lives playing in the background, while I stood in my bathrobe at noon eating my homemade sandwich over the sink. Measured in that way, this sandwich was a success. I had to remind myself, though, that this wasn’t a sandwich I had made myself; this was a sandwich that I had paid nearly seven dollars and had to leave the house for, and that should thus be exceptional (or at least memorable) in at least some area.

I’ll definitely try the Wild Oats Bakery & Cafe again, and I can certainly see why it’s a popular spot for people on their lunch breaks to sit down, catch a little Spring sunshine in the dining room, and have a bowl of soup that feels homemade. It’s the kind of place we’ll find ourselves on those days where the most pressing issue on our minds is whether Joey is going to pick Pacey or Dawson, those days that we just can’t figure out how to feed ourselves, and we want something comforting and good, if not particularly surprising.

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed “Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road,” as well as the taco-centric blog “Eat More Tacos,” 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. I love this blog–especially the photos and the recipes–but I really wish you would try a restaurant more than once (or even at least order several dishes) before writing a review. It’s woefully unfair to put a restaurant’s reputation on the line based on one item or even one visit.

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    1. I agree, Steph. Entries in our “Sandwiches” series aren’t really meant to stand as full-blown reviews (that’s why they’re in a different category, and we don’t assign them a “star” rating), but are instead intended to be a snapshot of a single sandwich on a single day. On this day, we did actually also try an avocado-and-cheddar on onion-dill bread that was also good.

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  2. Kind of agree with the previous review. Next time play a little mix and match with the sandwiches. I like to add their oven roast turkey and boursin to the turkey blt. Also you really need to try the soups. Totally agree about the mid-90’s feel, probably because that’s when they opened and they haven’t changed anything since, except to expand!

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  3. hahaha, this made me laugh! i live in the area, and have been here so many times…i definitely understand what you mean by the 90s feel. it definitely seems like some sort of school cafeteria…probably college. i ALWAYS get the chutney chicken salad on a spinach wrap with a bit of lettuce, shredded carrots and cheddar cheese. occasionally some avocado…i think it’s really good, but i bet i could make it myself. i usually go to wild oats when i am specifically craving the taste of the chutney chicken, because i because obsessed with it when i was a teenager. i really don’t know why i haven’t attempted to recreate it…probably because i haven’t gotten around to buying mango chutney. anyway, you should try that if you go again. i like sitting in the “atrium” area, because it’s newer than the inside, you get more space and privacy, it’s sunny like you said.

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