Ahh, April in Maine… the very start of the real transition into spring- incessant rain clouds, grey skies, and cool winds grace our coast and tease year long residents with 50 degree days- which after a winter that had average temperatures in the teens- feels like summer. April 1st, 2011, seemed to be a repeat of the April blizzard that happened six years earlier. The streets of Portland were coated with a fresh eight inches, of wet slush, that meteorologists called “snow”. Waking up brought an anxiety like no other- I had to move to a new apartment, get 7 hours of work done for classes on Monday, and somehow manage to enjoy my last snow day of junior year. So what else did I do but call Sam? We decided to get some lunch at Hot Suppa! and then see where the day would lead us. It had been years since I’d gone into Hot Suppa! but it hadn’t changed much. The dining room was pretty full, so we opted for seats at the bar which ended up working to our advantage. Five minutes into our visit, the bartender brought me my espresso, and Sam his Coke, and from there on, our experience began. The espresso was full bodied, piping hot, and bitter- just the way I wanted it, especially since there was snow on the ground on April 1st.
While we waited for our food, we started discussing things like the upcoming year, my move, the summer, and our current feeling of elation. This conversation had minimal pauses so I could snap a couple of photos of Sam, the dining room, and the beers on tap. The Stella Artois was screaming my name- constantly reminding me of my trip to Montreal, and my early morning beverage of choice, with a nice lemon on the side. But I wasn’t in Canada, and I had things to do, so instead, I reverted back to my conversation with Sam and found myself quite stimulated by the topics at hand.
He’s probably my better half.
Our food came a good twenty five minutes after we ordered it- timed perfectly in my opinion. Unfortunately Hot Suppa! doesn’t serve appetizers, so when I asked for an order of fries to tie us over, the bartender told us we’d have to wait for our sandwiches to come out in order to get the fries. From a restaurant perspective I understand the hassle- timing courses to go out on time, keeping track of tickets- it can get hectic, especially in a restaurant the size of Hot Suppa! which may be able to seat 35 comfortably. Sam ordered the Chicken Sandwich special- a cajun po’ boy, which looked mighty fine. The chicken was grilled, seasoned with paprkia, cayenne pepper, and onion powder, all this sat atop a crispy baguette with a healthy portion of shredded romaine lettuce, and thin slices of tomatoes. For his side, Sam chose the apple sauce- which I must say looked good, and in addition, made me want to make my own batch right then and there. While Sam didn’t really talk about his food too much- I think it should be noted that there wasn’t anything left on his plate when it was cleared… So if I had to guess, the sandwich was more than likely quite delicious.
I was naughty when I ordered. A double bacon cheese burger with a side of mac n cheese. Was I asking to go into cardiac arrest immediately? Maybe… but I felt that after a long week, I deserved a little bit of bad cholesterol. The hamburgers were delicious- cooked perfectly- medium, nice and pink on the inside, still a bit juicy, with a mild cheddar cheese, caramelized vidallia onions, and thick cut bacon from a local farm. The bacon was nice and smokey, and the onions were sweet and soft. The Mac n Cheese was warm and gooey- there were slight hints of grey poupon mustard used in the cheese base- which pleased my tastebuds. All that was missing were french fries- and hey! Those were pretty fantastic too. Thinly sliced, fried twice, not greasy at all- maybe I was opting for a healthier route to food coma.
After our food began to dwindle, Sam and I started discussing World War I, the reasons of WWII, and it soon evolved into a heated debate, which lasted for a good half and hour. Sam wanted me to take the above picture because of the beer featured on the bottom right hand corner (his last name). Hot Suppa! was comfortable, affordable, and made some really nice feel-good food. We left with some food babies in our tummies, with future plans for our parents, and with a satisfied feeling that we did something fun with our last snow day of the year. The only way that day could have gotten better would have been with a slice of Otto’s tortellini pizza- oh wait, that’s what we had for dinner, to top off a day of moving, eating, and buying new pets (beta fish Johnny Cash).
So here’s to April in Maine, maybe the least predictable month, but always the most promising.