05 April 2008

one fifty ate (or 158 pickett street cafe)

dining date: 04.05.08
on benjamin w. pickett street in south portland, right next to smcc (and yes, the street number is 158)
pricing category:
a little pricey for breakfast sandwiches, but not bad when you consider the quality of ingredients
guest critic:
again, just the three of us
overall grade:

the lowdown:

- local bakery that serves sandwiches on homemade bagels and breads...so if you’re going there for breakfast, plan on eating either an egg sandwich or a bagel with a number of different toppings...unless you get the scrambled eggs and toast.

- comfortable and welcoming atmosphere, with a slight bustle...clearly a favorite for a lot of regulars.

- hip and friendly service -- and although you order your food at the counter, someone brings it out to your table, so you’re not stuck standing around while you wait.

- it’s nice to see artwork on the walls, and there’s a really sweet bagel display made of chicken wire with piles of seeds and crumbs on the bottom -- so many, in fact, that it looks like an intentional art piece. we find this cool.

- the outdoor seating is actually way better than what you’ll find inside -- between the oasis-esque private backyard with plenty of picnic tables, and the great wooden adirondack chairs out front, it certainly pays to eat here when it’s nice out.

- they have a nice selection of beverages in the cooler, including organic juice boxes and organic chocolate milk.

the food

the benny girl
- bacon, egg, and cheese on a garlic bagel, 4/9ths of a pear and cheese danish, and tea
- grade: A

"if you don’t mind a little bit of a drive, this place is definitely worth checking out...especially when it’s nice enough to sit outside. the location is pretty incredible and right near many perfect places to stroll or play frisbee after you eat. unless you really don’t like extremely picture-esque ocean scenes, complete with lighthouses and jetties and rocky coasts...and in that case, you should just get in your car immediately after eating. walking to your car blind-folded might help. but if you do like the coast, then definitely go a little further down benjamin w. pickett street onto the smcc campus and take a look around. just don’t go into the dorms unless you have a security pass or you’re with a tour group. anyway, back to the food. or, not "back to it" necessarily, since i haven’t even started talking about it yet. one fifty ate makes really great bagels. seriously. and their choices for toppings are really good -- hummus, jam, cream cheese, NUTELLA!, egg & cheese, etc. i went with the bacon, egg, and cheese -- my old standby when i eat there. there’s a perfect amount of egg (not too skimpy and not too over-bearing) and the cheese is melted throughout the pile of scrambled yumminess. a very nice change from places that throw a microwaved egg on a bagel and slap a piece of cheese on it. the bacon was perfectly cooked and thickly cut...although one more piece would have been nice. but between the sandwich and the delicious danish, i definitely felt satisfied by the time i left. and speaking of that danish...it was really, really good. the pears weren’t really cooked (which i liked), the cheese was more like the texture of frosting than cheese, and the whole thing wasn’t too sweet -- more "natural tasting," if that makes any sense. the tea selection could have been better. the only black tea they had was a berry black tea. uh, definitely no bueno for an english breaky snob. so i went with the roobious chai, which was good. i personally really like self-service tea stations, because my ideal tea contains both half & half AND milk...and i never have the guts to ask a server for both of them (unless i’m at the regency), but when i serve myself, i can put whatever i want to into my tea. so, it was good -- really good, actually. i definitely like the food, the atmosphere, and the location of one fifty ate. although, i didn’t like them at all a couple of weeks ago when i called and asked what time they closed and they said 2:00 and i made the drive all the way over there (starving, i might add), only to arrive there at 1:00 to find a locked door, because they "decided to close early." lucky for them, i don’t hold grudges...for long, anyway."

the usual
- egg and cheese sandwich, pear and cheese danish, coffee
- grade: A-

"so alas, brunch is a much more difficult thing to come by on a saturday morning than it is on the ever-typical sunday. we looked up a number of places on our list and found that much to our chagrin, none of them were brunching today. fortunately though, just a hop, skip, and a few stoplights over the bridge to south portland lies a happy little breakfast nook called 158. although this spot doesn’t have an extensive menu, or homies, it’s the perfect place to grab an egg sandwich and a cup of coffee to kick off your saturday morning. or any other morning for that matter. i made my selection pretty quickly, (resident TBC vegetarian + small menu = limited options). i went with the plain ol egg and cheese on a sunflower seed bagel. i had to forego the delicious sounding "hippie" open face with veggies and hummus due to an overpriced experience with a similar sandwich at rivalries the night before. egg and cheese is closer to ’the usual’ anyway. our food was ready in good time and as we waited we took down a good sized chunk of homemade danish. the pears were perfect, not over cooked as they usually are and the crust was amazing, perfect consistency and not too sweet. the coffee, although also awesome, could have done with a different serving vessel. all the mugs are white and wide-mouthed with tiny handles. i hate mugs like this for a myriad of reasons. first, coffee cools much too quickly in such a flat cup. second, uniform white mugs are the stuff of hotels and weddings, not lovely little artsy eateries. third, i spill things a lot and the wide-open-ness of the mug is much more conducive to me making a giant mess. and fourth, well, that’s pretty much it. they don’t seem to fit in with the general atmosphere of the place. why not get some sweet ones made by a local artist? enough about mugs though. my sandwich came and was quickly devoured. instead of the ever-popular fried egg topped with cheese, this sandwich comes filled with perfectly seasoned, fluffy scrambles sitting warmly inside the homemade bagel of your choice. your meal comes to you in a humble tin plate that makes you feel like you’re the newest member of the boxcar children. all in all, 158 is a must-try if you’re in the portland area. so mix it up, lose the homefries for a week and go with the breakfast of champions. homemade bagels. need i say more?"

wild toast

-bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a sea-salt bagel, and a cup a joe
- grade: A-

"without homefries, but with a homey decor, including cool colored clustered chairs complimenting the cornucopia of good intentions and friendly folks, 158 is a nice spot to enjoy a cup of coffee, and in this instance, an egg sandwich. seeing as it’s a stone’s throw from the pebbled waters of south portland’s lovely coast, i opted for the sea-salt bagel with egg, cheese, and bacon. while the ocean should always have a briny and highly salted aura, i don’t think my bagel necessarily needs to challenge the mighty atlantic to a salt off. however, after brushing a number of salt kernels off the top, my bagel was definitely tasty. the one piece of thick cut bacon was decent, even though i think it may have been sitting around prior to adorning my sandwich as it wasn’t exactly fresh, or hot. by that i don’t mean to say it was old and sitting around since my father’s bar mitzvah or anything, just that it wasn’t like they cooked it per order. anyway, it wasn’t really that big of a deal. the eggs were from chickens, the cheese from cows, so that just basically means it was a pretty good breakfast sandwich. the coffee by design coffee was fine but the squat, wide brimmed mug wasn’t my favorite, as all the unnecessary surface area on the top caused my coffee to chill down in a hurry. in addition to the breakfast sandwich we started things off with a scrumptious cheese and pear danish. tasty. so then upon our return to our chateau to write these marvelous reviews, i found my first 4 leaf clover of the season, a sure sign that spring is on the way! so go get outside, enjoy a good breakfast and play some whiffle ball, break out the bocce and always, always drop by marden’s."

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