When the Regal cinema chain indefinitely closed its Edwards movie theaters in early October because of the pandemic, gone was one of the major reasons people went to the Marq*E Entertainment Center in Spring Branch.
With the resulting decline in foot traffic at the center, we checked in again with Maine-ly Sandwiches — a fresh breeze of New England fare in a city more accustomed to Mexican food, barbecue and Asian delights — to see how a restaurant there is doing.
We are happy to report that Buddy Charity, the local entrepreneur who brought authentic tastes of Maine to our fair city eight years ago, indicated that the restaurant is riding out the storm.
Catering is a big part of its business, and Maine-ly thrives on supplying an array of sandwiches for events, Charity said. They have a steady stream of long-standing customers such as hospitals, doctors’ offices and the like, ordering for holiday parties, trainings and other occasions.
Staying COVID-19 safe, their take-out and ordering business is busy, and there is ample outdoor seating on site.
A walk into the Spring Branch area restaurant immediately reminds of a Maine location, with a large lighthouse and nautical themes throughout.
“My original idea after visiting New England and eating these great sandwiches, was why wait for summer to enjoy these when they can be eaten all year round?” Charity said. “It’s caught on with Houstonians who think we just sell lobster rolls, which we do, and then they discover and enjoy our other sandwiches.”
The sub-style Italian sandwiches Charity spoke of are made with “super soft” Italian bread, finely diced onions, American cheese, meat, and a whole row of tomatoes. Other veggies included are pickles, strips of green peppers, and black greek olives. The finishing touch is a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.
“This is the Italian sandwich that was served to immigrants coming to or working in the harbors in New England,” Charity explained. “It is untoasted, and it is full of vegetables.”
A bite into this sandwich confirms what Charity wanted to recreate. It tastes like a submarine sandwich with a decided twist to it due to the tang of the dill pickles and olives.
Of course, some are first drawn to Maine-ly Sandwiches by the lure of an authentic lobster roll. They make these in traditional sizes or with up to a half pound of lobster on an over-sized sandwich roll. They prepare the rolls on the same soft Italian bread, toasted with butter, as is the tradition in Maine. All bread is homemade from a local source. The taste is mouthwatering authentic.
Other seafood offerings include shrimp rolls, crab rolls, scallops, and clam strips. The clam strip basket is a popular choice as it comes with french fries and coleslaw. They also have whole belly fried clams in addition to clam strips.
Just in time for winter and colder weather, the eatery’s New England flavored soups are also a hit with locals and send wafts of delicious aromas throughout the restaurant.
Recently recognized by a local magazine as one of the 15 best soups in Houston, the hearty and thick New England clam chowder has just the right amount of seafood versus potatoes, and is a chewy delight served with oyster crackers – another treat from the Northeast. The lobster bisque is thick and filled with nice-sized pieces of lobster meat. They also offer a soup of the day. Best of all, they offer soups in a large scooped-out bread bowl.
Lobster and crab salad are also on the menu along with side dishes.
No meal is complete without dessert, and Charity is most proud of his homemade Whoopie pies. Whoopie pies are devil’s food cake cookies with a layer of marshmallow fluff in the middle, and they are made fresh daily at Mainely Sandwiches.
“I think we are the only local place that serves these home-made Whoopie Pies.” Charity said.
7620 Katy Freeway
By Arlene Nisson Lassin