Eat & Run: Crave Maine has an eclectic menu, will travel

Crave Maine food truck parked at Absolem Cider Co. in Winthrop. Photo by Leslie Bridgers

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.

The Korean BBQ Chicken Sandwich from Crave Maine food truck. Photo by Leslie Bridgers

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) .

Crave Maine Fried Brussels Sprouts. Photo by Leslie Bridgers

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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