The Salty Moose food truck parked at Gneiss Brewing Co. in Limerick. Photos by Leslie Bridgers

LIMERICK — With all the traffic bound for the coast this time of year, and this year in particular, I decided early on that I’d take any weekend day trips this summer to parts of Maine less popular with tourists.

Choosing the destination usually starts with picking a hike – this time to Burnt Meadow Mountain trail in Brownfield – but my motivation to make it to the top is always the lunch afterward.

I saw that Gneiss Brewing Co. was not too far away, and having never made it the mere hour drive from Portland in the eight years since its founding, it felt like time. I was pleased to see that I wouldn’t have to make another stop for lunch and could check off another destination on my list, though not for nearly as long. The Salty Moose, a new food truck, sets up at the brewery on weekends, serving mostly German fare to complement the beer.

It wasn’t until after I ate that I refreshed my memory about the story behind the truck – that it’s the realized dream of chef Taylor Stanton, formerly of David’s KPT and Tides Beach Club in Kennebunkport. If I had beforehand, I might not have been as surprised by the sophistication of the food.

Bratwurst, fried smashed spuds, cucumber salad and smashed burger from The Salty Moose, complete with a white IPA and black lager from Gneiss Brewing.

The cucumber salad with dill, radish and shallots ($5) was refreshing on what was a hot day, and I appreciated the option of a healthy (but still delightfully salty) side dish. For something more decadent, go with the fried smashed spuds ($5) or spaetzle “mac & cheese” ($6), though next time I might split the difference with the German potato salad ($5), with smoked bacon, radish, herbs and maple mustard vinaigrette.

Sandwich options include a “smashed” burger loaded with bacon, caramelized onion, pickled mushroom, boursin and spicy mustard on a pretzel bun ($12); chicken schnitzel with pickles, fennel slaw and dill yogurt, also on a pretzel bun ($12); and a lobster roll, served hot with brown butter and tarragon or cold with garlic aioli and celery (market price).

The bratwurst has too many delicious fillings to eat as a sandwich, but you’ll manage.

I chose to stick with the German theme and got the bratwurst ($10, same for the vegan version), served with quick kraut, pickles and mustard cheese on what tasted like a pretzel bun, though the menu didn’t specify. (Gluten-free options are also available.) Its only flaw was that it was impossible to eat as a sandwich without some of the fillings falling out. I decided to try a fork and knife, but the plastic ones provided weren’t sturdy enough for the job.

Somehow, however, I managed to get every tasty bit into my mouth, including the bun that I swore I’d forgo once I switched to utensils.

A couple kinks are to be expected of any business that’s only been up and running for a month or so. Regardless of when they’re worked out, the truck and setting – a spacious outdoor area spruced up during the brewery’s pandemic downtime – are well worth the drive from anywhere in southern Maine, especially without tourist traffic.


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