At The Olde Post Office Café in Mount Vernon, the view across Minnehonk Lake is beautiful, the featured art is always spectacular, the food is incredible — and we can walk to it!
Whenever people want to meet with me, I ask them come to the café in downtown Mount Vernon for breakfast or lunch. And once they do, I don’t have to ask a second time. I’m besieged by callers asking, “Can we meet again for breakfast or lunch at the Post Office Café?”
Many small rural towns have a café, but few have one of this quality. Locals fill the place all year round, but diners also come from all over Maine. In the summer, the street is filled with out-of-state license plates. Amazingly, there are no items over $9.
My buddy Harry Vanderweide and I have breakfast or lunch here any day we are out hunting turkey or deer. The café is an important part of our experience.
The burrito is hard to pass up at breakfast, and haddock chowder on Fridays and Saturdays cannot be missed. The menu always includes some local favorites, but I often order the specials. Chef/owner Bob Wallack — who took up cooking after selling his Maine newspapers — is very creative, and he’s introduced me to many new flavors and dishes.
The pastries here are to die for. Chef/baker/manager Sarah Chaisson presents scrumptious scones, muffins and desserts. When Harry and I have breakfast here, we each order a full breakfast and we split a morning pastry. And no, Linda is not going to be pleased to hear this.
Don’t leave without buying a loaf of bread or a pie off the shelf near the door or from the refrigerated case. Whenever Linda leaves a note for me that says we need bread, it’s a license to get to the café that day. Of course, it’s the most expensive bread in the world because it includes breakfast or lunch.
Our daughter Hilary, home for Christmas from her job at a Washington, D.C., restaurant, joined us for lunch. Hilary and Linda are both great cooks and real foodies. So it’s pointless for me to write anything more.
I’m more than a little partial to our town of Mount Vernon, but it was an enormous boon to the town when the Olde Post Office Café opened. And what luck for those of us living nearby. I can’t imagine a prettier place for lunch.
Big windows look directly out over Minnehonk Lake to the tree-lined shore across the lake. The day we recently dined here, a small group was ice fishing on the lake and before we left, it had started to snow. It was the perfect picturesque winter scene in a typical rural Maine town.
When we arrived at noon, two tables were already occupied and I knew everyone at the restaurant. That doesn’t happen very often. People don’t feel rushed here, lingering over great food and conversation. Bob will make you feel more than welcome, and will be checking in on you.
The lunch menu features paninis and a variety of other sandwiches, as well as quiche and baked goods. But if you’ve never tried the soup here, you are missing something. Each and every soup I’ve sampled here has been special. I tried a cup of the Tuscan bean soup — full of white beans, carrots and just plain delicious. Bob really knows how to season soups without making them overly salty. I always look forward to the soup of the day.
We ordered a Cobb salad to share, and neither George nor Hilary could believe that I’d never had one. The freshest of ingredients made this one very delicious. All of my favorites were included — bacon, avocado, roasted turkey and hard-boiled eggs atop mixed greens, tomatoes and cucumbers.
George makes fun of me for always ordering the Californian sandwich. It’s hard to beat the combination of turkey, cheese and avocado with onions in a grilled sandwich. On this visit, I did share the two sandwich specials of the day. You really can’t go wrong with whatever sandwich you order here.
The other thing that makes this place so special is the sense of community. My good friend Dona Seegers had her art on display here all month, along with artist Mary McFarland. So I was extremely happy to have made a visit before it was taken down. Dona does spectacular paper sculptures, with hand-painted paper.
Paper curls and curves in a variety of color palates make me wonder how some people think in such a creative way. Her next show is in Farmington at the Emery Community Arts Center at UMF (on Academy Street between Merrill Hall and Farmington Public Library.) The theme of the show is spirals, and runs from tomorrow to Sunday, Feb. 10.
Home for the holidays for a week, I had already been eating very well for a few days before Mom, Dad and I trekked a mile to the Post Office Café for lunch. And at the café, my trend of great eating continued. This was not my first time here, having sampled breakfast omelets, stuffed French toast and a few wraps and sandwiches on previous trips home.
This time, we focused on specials of the day — soups du jour, cheesy paninis and delectable desserts — and I might never order off the menu again. Everything was delicious — as good, if not better, than anything Mom and I had whipped up in our kitchen earlier this week.
My favorites were the tomato and red pepper soup (which had a lovely warm spice flavor and cheesy topping), and the roast beef, bleu cheese and bacon panini on sourdough bread. Crispy, beefy and delightfully tangy, it was a truly gourmet sandwich. We also tried the other sandwich special of the day, a warm roast turkey and provolone panini with a bright cranberry spread. It tasted just like Thanksgiving.
I was equally impressed with the house-made dessert offerings of the day. Creative takes on classic-baked treats like mocha brownies dusted with cocoa powder, mixed berry crumble with almond-flavored pastry topping and cranberry-chocolate-chip cookies were really unique.
Dad loved the lemon bars dusted with confectioner’s sugar, while I was partial to the brownies, which were incredibly moist and worth every calorie. Sarah Chaisson also creates a truly impressive array of breakfast pastries and quiches. One of the quiches available on our visit was pesto, roasted red pepper and spinach. The other was prosciutto, smoked gouda and caramelized onion. I can’t find breakfast foods that creative anywhere in D.C.
Perhaps my favorite thing about the café is the chef’s ability to produce really creative, gourmet food that even non-adventurous eaters would enjoy. The roast beef and bleu cheese panini was an unexpected pairing that really worked, and the mixed berry crumble had a lovely marzipan flavor from the almond topping. I had never tried that flavor combination before and it was delicious.
Creative food that is unpretentious and approachable — that is what you will find at The Olde Post Office Café.
Conclusion – George
Within minutes of our arrival, the café filled up with customers, a blessing that gave us time to spend 15 minutes watching Dona Seegers’ slide show of her new granddaughter in Arizona. Dona’s Maine daughter, husband and two adorable girls gathered around our table with Dona’s iPad as we oohed and ahhed at the gorgeous little girl. This reminded me of how special our community and café is. But we’re willing to share it all.
Visit George’s website: www.george
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