The Blue Pig Diner
19 State St., Gorham
I know your time is valuable, so here’s the short version: The Blue Pig Diner serves the kind of corned-beef hash people write poetry about.
More on that later, I promise. In the meantime, I’ll add that everything I tried at this Gorham eatery was excellent. Totally worth 20 minutes in the car and another 20 waiting for a table.
My wife and I met a couple friends there on a recent weekend morning. The place was hopping — busier by far than most places in Portland would be at 9 a.m. on a Saturday. We claimed the first available four-top and ordered a round of outstanding coffee ($2.25) brewed from beans roasted in nearby Raymond by Swift River Coffee Roasters.
My wife ordered the Smokin’ Bloody Mary ($7.50), a nicely spiced version of the traditional breakfast cocktail updated with a touch of Blue Pig’s sweet, smoky barbecue sauce. Too hungry to wait for the entrée, she also ordered a sweet, fluffy cinnamon-chip muffin ($3.50) that arrived split, buttered and grilled on the flat-top in true diner fashion.
One of our friends extended his streak of ordering chicken and waffles ($11) every time he sees the dish on a menu. He found the waffle a bit too sweet for his taste, but the boneless fried chicken was crispy and well seasoned. Over the top — in more senses than one — they ladeled a generous portion of rich, peppery sausage gravy.
Our other friend brought her sweet tooth to the party, ordering French toast stuffed with blueberry cream cheese ($8). This was one of the best dishes of its kind that any of us could recall. The toast was crisp and custardy, and the ratio of bread to filling was spot-on. The filling itself was slightly tart, not overly sweet, and light enough that she could eat the whole thing without feeling miserable for the rest of the day.
My brisket benedict ($12) was another outstanding plate. Chunks of fork-tender beef — smoked in-house, like all their meats — were placed on a split buttermilk biscuit and dressed with housemade barbecue sauce. On top were two eggs, poached to perfection and drizzled with lemony hollandaise sauce. The homefries were slightly underseasoned, but a few shakes of salt and pepper and a dash of hot sauce fixed that easily enough.
And now, at last, we return to the corned-beef hash ($12). Technically, it was my wife who ordered it, but I stole quite a bit right from under her nose. Trust me, you would have done the same. Again, the meat is prepared in-house and, my God, was it delicious! It was melt-in-your-mouth tender, with a few crispy bits providing just enough texture. It was rich and flavorful, but not fatty; well seasoned, but not salty. In other words, if there is such a thing as the Platonic ideal of corned-beef hash, this was it.
The trip from Portland to Gorham is actually an easy drive on the weekends, when you’re not sharing the road with commuters and college kids. But even if I had to get up early and drive two hours to get to The Blue Pig Diner, I’d still do it. And I’d probably spend the return trip writing verse after verse about that hash.
The Blue Pig Diner is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and Thursdays through Sundays from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.