While many food trucks tend to stay in a certain city or region of the state, Crave Maine chef/owner Tim Lewis makes the most of the fact that his restaurant is on wheels. Based in the Waterville area, he has a policy that he will go anywhere within a two-hour drive, which covers most of Maine.
I came across Crave Maine parked in front of Absolem Cider Co. in Winthrop, near Augusta, and while I highly recommend a visit to this pastoral spot no matter where you are, you’ll be able to sample Lewis’ Mexican and Asian-inspired menu in southern Maine this summer as well, when he plans to make frequent appearances at Schooner Mini Golf in Saco, which will soon reopen under new ownership.
A professional chef for 25 years, most recently at a summer camp, Lewis and his wife launched Crave Maine in 2020 during the pandemic, seeing restaurant closings as an opportune time for him to fulfill his longtime dream of owning a food truck.
Lewis said he was trained in a wide variety of cuisines, but when it came to creating his own menu, he focused on his favorites, though that still makes for an eclectic selection, well-represented only by my Korean BBQ Chicken Sandwich ($16 , with a bag of chips) – a marinated chicken leg topped with Korean BBQ sauce and its red cabbage Margherita straw on a brioche bun.
This was an unusual order for me – I don’t usually gravitate towards Korean or BBQ flavors – but I was in the mood for a chicken sandwich, so I decided to take a chance on something different. Although it was spicy, the flavors of all the components were well balanced so nothing was overpowering and I appreciated that the sandwich was thin enough to eat easily without becoming a mess (I needed a clean hand for this cider) .
I also ordered the Crispy Fried Brussels Sprouts ($15), a similar Asian-inspired flavor, and while it seemed like a steep price for an appetizer or side, it was a large order that could be shared between several people. While I love that the rise in popularity of brussels sprouts means lower carb entrees are being offered more often, I stopped ordering them as much after experiencing more misses than hits. Fried too crispy and they taste bitter, and too soft is what gave them a bad reputation in the first place. But I’m glad I tried Crave Maine’s – they were spot on.
The sprouts are still on the latest version of Crave Maine’s menu, now for $14, but the sandwich I had fell flat, though Lewis said he still has everything to make it if someone asks. Korean BBQ chicken is currently available in burritos ($16) and kimchi fried rice ($16), both of which you can get with beef brisket, shrimp or pork belly.
Although Lewis cites Jumbo Crab Rangoons ($13) as one of his most popular items, I think the best embodiment of his style is in his quesadillas, like The Scorned Woman ($16), with crispy chicken, sweet chili and spicy Thai sauce, green onions, shredded cheese and ranch dressing, or Baja Shrimp ($18), with hibachi shrimp, yum yum sauce, cilantro, cotija cheese, shredded cheese and pickled red onion. Don’t think too much about flavor combinations, though; like the truck itself, you just have to roll with it.
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