As devotees of comfort food, we salute a restaurant that makes four kinds of pudding daily: tapioca, bread, Grape Nuts, and Indian. Plus about a dozen pies, including mince in the cold months. Plus good ice cream for banana splits, frappes (milk, ice cream, and flavoring), shakes, and sodas. Cole Farms is known for all these things, but dessert is only the finale to this story of inland Maine foursquare cuisine. Opened as a farmland diner in 1952, Cole Farms still can be relied on to serve boiled dinner in the autumn, corn chowder and chicken pot pie every Wednesday, and a choice of pea beans or kidney beans accompanied by one or two bright red Maine-style weenies.
Every day at lunch there are fine soups and chowders, and delicious clam cakes to accompany any meal. This is one of the few remaining dining rooms in New England where you can sit down to a bowl of American chop suey (the Platonic ideal of Hamburger Helper). Meat loaf (with great mashed potatoes) and chili are exemplary, and for those who want something a little less Yankee, the updated menu now includes such modern dishes as taco salad, grilled teriyaki chicken, and “gourmet cheesecake.”
Cole Farms is a big place, expanded many times over the years and now including a gift shop and banquet room. Even though it is sprawling, each pine booth seems cozy. Decor includes pictures of all the young employees who graduate along with captions saying how long they were with Cole Farms and where they are going away to school.