I am about to commit a cardinal culinary sin. I'm about to suggest that one of the best Philly Cheesesteaks that I have ever consumed (and I've consumed PLENTY) hails not from the streets of Philadelphia, but from the salt-kissed, lobster lovers Paradise that is...Kennebunk, Maine. You heard me correctly. WICKED correctly. Bear right from Route 1, just past The Maine Diner, and travel a few short miles to the traffic light and look to your left. There, you will find an unassuming little building that is home to Bennett's Sandwich Shop.
What began as Bennett's Store in 1982, operated under the careful eye of namesake Charlie Bennett, is now one of the most beloved and most famous sandwich shops in all of Maine. So beloved and popular that they now boast a second location in Portsmouth, NH...and a recently opened third locale, at the church where all Bostonians REALLY worship...Fenway Park.
Yes, they are known for their lobster rolls. Many Down East eateries are....it is MAINE, after all. However, it is their riff on the Philly Cheesesteak that keep me coming back for more and more. And, to set the record straight...a true Philly Cheesesteak does not boast marinara sauce. I am not quite certain which genius began crafting them in this manner, and calling them a Philly Cheesesteak. And, while this preparation can be perfectly tasty...it's simply not a PHILLY Cheesesteak....so let's band together and find a new name for them. I am quite the culinary purist when it comes to such things. All blue cheeses are not Roquefort...all sparkling wines are not Champagne...and all subs/hoagies/grinders with chopped meat in them are not Philly Cheesesteaks. Rant over.
The Cheesesteaks that Bennett's prepares are true to tradition. The steak version and the only slightly healthier option of chicken are available and both are mouthwateringly melty, warm and seasoned to absolute perfection. It begins with the roll that is as soft as your favorite pillow or well-worn white t-shirt. The chopped beef...perfectly seasoned. Although they do not offer the option of Cheez-Whiz with which to crown your philly...American cheese serves as a perfectly acceptable (and also, traditional) topping.
Get it loaded...get it plain..just GO GET IT.
KENNEBUNK, MEFind Us: 200 Sea Road. Kennebunk, ME 04043
Call Us: (207) 967-5401
I have grown up summering in Vacationland. I have dined in virtually every seaside clam shack and have sampled the swankier side of the seacoast as well. I have seen restaurants come and go...I have seen the favorites stand the test of time and temperament. From the best lobster rolls...to steamers...to decadent desserts..and every wicked good thing in between...consider me your Maine Squeeze.