Little Lad’s Basket Bakery and Cafe… and Pals!
You may or may not know Little Lad’s from their presence in the popcorn market. People everywhere rave of the Herbal Popcorn varieties and try to mimic, though rarely successful (dun dun dunnn dramatic chihuahua)… the Secret Recipe!
What is lesser known about Little Lad’s is that they also have a wonderful bunch of cafes. Our trip in Portland, ME included a stop on Congress Street at Little Lad’s Basket, a quaint eatery which features a menu and a buffet as well as takeaway items like bags of popcorn, pints of frozen vegan desserts, whole grain breads and more.
Our gracious host on this journey was Steve. He manages this location and is very humble and proud to be serving an exclusively plant-based offering to his patrons. We arrived early on in the day and though their were few customers in for an early lunch, Steve was eager to gently engage and welcome the clientele. He was overheard discussing with a gentleman a concern regarding the patron’s wife’s health and the desire to heal through whole plant foods. What stood out to me was his desire to truly provide for his guests. A new customer expressed concern of eating as a new vegan and Steve made sure to check in to ask what every server is trained to do, “How is everything?” Steve didn’t want to take money from this person if he was unhappy with the meal. This may appear to be bad business to some however it was heart warming to see the sheer joy when the customer replied, “This is excellent!” Well done Steve! He cooks, he cleans and he serves.
For our interaction, Kristin and I jumped into the Buffet. How could we not after our host walked us through every dish? Fill the tray for 5 bucks? No brainer. Don’t worry doctors. We didn’t max this puppy out. The featured entree was an Eggplant Cacciatore over a Southern Spoon Bread. The sides featured were a Lentil Pilaf, which is one of my top favorites on the Maine excursion, a well seasoned rice, sweet corn done right, herb seasoned and not too salty, not straight from a can and a full raw veggie salad bar. Cheers Little Lad’s Basket!
Upon our departure we thanked Steve for a peacefully wonderful time and learned one more fun fact about Little Lad’s Basket in Portland. Wouldn’t you know it but Steve is an animal lover! Go figure. Us too! So he pointed out a banner he has up running the length of the restaurant. The banner is entitled “Little Lad’s Pals.” Guests are encouraged to bring in photos of important animals in their lives. Pets of all kinds are shown with Steve’s cat keeping you company while you are way from each other. A lovely touch. Visit Little Lad’s and bring a picture of your Chihuahuas Rocco and Charlie or Daffodil the English Bulldog or your cats Donkey and Chicken (Yes, I have two friends who have named their cats Donkey or Donks and Chicken. Don’t judge!)
Eat some vegan soul food and check out an old Maine license plate celebrating Little Lad’s choice to serve NO MEAT here:Little Lad’s Basket 482 Congress Street Portland, ME Phone: (207) 871-1636
While I think it’s fantastic that Little Lad’s is one of the very few vegan establishments in Portland, Maine, I get sort of frustrated that they choose to use disposable plates and cutlery. One of the larger arguments for becoming vegan is sustainability and using dish-ware that’s disposable seems sort of hypocritical. Sustainability may not be the stance the owners of Little Lad’s take for owning a vegan establishment, but it is part of the larger conversation and I think they should be sensitive to it. I’m a vegan living in Portland and although my dining options are hugely limited (not even close to being as diversified as cities like Boston, NY, Philly, and the other Portland), my fiance and I choose not to support Little Lad’s because we don’t agree with creating that much needless waste.
It’s a step in the right direction. Room for improvement is what inspires others to create a better version of a good idea.
I love the idea of completely compostable dish-ware! We enjoy going to Local Sprouts up here – it’s not 100% veg but they offer several options and when you’re done eating, you bus your table and can recycle and compost, and they use reusable dishes/cutlery. I plan to start a vegan bakery up here within the next 5 years and this is a big concern to me since much of the packaging for bakeries gets thrown away and is really wasteful. I will certainly be composting.
I do think it’s great that Little Lad’s offers a 100% vegan menu, and I will contact them to let them know our thoughts – thanks for suggesting that, Ethan!
PS I don’t know why it puts up that weird sad face next to me! I definitely didn’t select that :P
We all have room for improvement. I for one, was hugely impressed with the amount of food that you get for only 5.00! Wow! And Kudos to Steve for being an animal lover and making his customers feel right at home. If I’m ever in Maine, I’d love to go eat there.