Central Maine, lovely though it might be with its lakes, woods, farms, and rolling hills, is not exactly a foodie paradise. Mostly there are chains, ranging from McDonald’s to Ruby Tuesday to Olive Garden. On the one hand, this means the area is not loaded with temptations the way places such as Brunswick and Portland are. On the other hand, when it comes to food, sometimes temptations are exactly what you want, and in central Maine, the pickings are slim.
However, there are a few notable exceptions, and Riverside Farm Market & Café in Oakland is one of them. What started out as a simple farm stand has expanded to become an elegant yet casual place with indoor seating, a specialty market, and a large deck that looks over a vineyard—that’s right, a vineyard—and a stream so large that you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a river. On a fine summer morning, sitting on that deck is akin to having a little slice of the Mediterranean in central Maine. More important, the service and the food are so good that Riverside Farm Market all by itself almost makes up for the plethora of chains in the area.
Last week happened to be the week of the Maine International Film Festival (MIFF), and one of our long-standing traditions has been to join our film-buff friends for a Sunday brunch on the last day of the film festival. We’ve gone to various places over the years, but our favorite has come to be Riverside Farm Market, and that’s where we go nowadays.
There are usually 14 or 15 of us, and we know to get there early so that we can grab the large table on the deck overlooking the aforementioned vineyard and stream. For some reason known only to the gods, the weather is usually perfect that last Sunday of the film festival, and so it was this year.
The servers, who are so friendly and accommodating, have come to expect us on that last Sunday, and as soon as we tell them we’re from MIFF, they start dragging tables to add to the large table. Also, there is not a peep of complaint when we ask for separate checks, and everyone gets exactly what he or she ordered.
For me, it is always the same thing—eggs Benedict served with fruit slices and baby baked potatoes. In general, I am crazy about all things made with eggs, and Riverside’s eggs Benedict are particularly delectable. (I could have some right now.) Unlike my poached eggs, their eggs are perfectly poached into puffy pillows of perfection, which are then topped with a rich, smooth hollandaise sauce and served over toasted English muffins. I usually gild the lily by adding Canadian bacon. And then, because more is always better, I order a bloody Mary to go with this brunch, and let’s just say that as I sip my drink, eat my eggs, take in the view, and talk with friends about various movies, I am one happy eater. Truly, life doesn’t get much better.