T. S. Chamberland

Staff Writer

Admit it. When you think “dining out” you don’t say to your honey, “Hey, let’s head over to the hospital and chow down.”

But just maybe you should.

That’s what I did last week, first to St. Mary’s and then to Central Maine Medical Center. (Check out that review next week in b-Plus.) And for good reason. The days of being able to make fun of hospital food are largely over. Hospitals — at least the two here in Lewiston — have spent considerable effort in recent years to upgrade the taste, healthiness and diversity of their food offerings, for patients and visitors alike.

Take St. Mary’s Campus Cuisine, for instance. Accessed most easily by entering the front doors of St. Mary’s Residences (formerly Maison Marcotte) at 100 Campus Ave., the sprawling restaurant/cafeteria employees 140 people, working from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., just to keep up with the food demands of the complex.

Campus Cuisine not only provides food for patients, but an estimated 650 to 700 diners — employees, guests of patients and lovers of good, inexpensive food alike — eat there daily.

Campus Cuisine provides ample seating and food options like the make-your-own sandwich bar, a grill, a la carte items and a salad bar. Depending on your mood and the always-changing menu, you could have a sandwich and chips or fruit one day, choose two or three entrees from the a la carte bar another day and have a grilled panini or sandwich with a pre-made salad the next. The mix-and-match style choices offer many items that you would have if you were home, leaving you feeling less guilty about what it is you’re eating. All with
many homestyle food choices that won’t bust your budget. And coolers with yogurts, fruit, pre-made salads and a variety of drinks are available, as are coffee decanters and fountain drinks.

The atmosphere is relaxed and easy: a cafeteria-type setup
with more of a restaurant feel. But you still pay for your meal in standard cafeteria style: Slide your tray to the register, a cashier rings up your
total and you find a place to sit. Prices vary, but the a
la carte bar is always $4.44. My panini, a bag of
chips and a bottled water came to $5.08; certainly reasonable especially when you
consider the quality of the food.

My mother works close by and she joined me for lunch. We’ve both eaten at Campus Cuisine several times over the years, either when visiting someone in the hospital or at d’Youville Pavilion.

It was ‘make-your-own Italian’ sandwich day, and while that was tempting, I wasn’t immediately sure that was what I wanted. The two of us looked like bargain shoppers hunting around for the best deal as we walked around taking in the food choices of the day. My mom decided to make her own sandwich, and began assembling wheat bread, cheese and cold cuts.

One glance at the grilled options and I ordered the Tuscan Chicken grilled panini. Grilled chicken breasts with tomato, lettuce and an herb mayonnaise on a ciabatta roll; this sandwich was delicious. While my mom’s ham sandwich was basic, she said it was the perfect lunch for her that day. Neither of us felt weighed down by our lunch, which was a nice feeling.

If a sit-down breakfast, lunch or dinner is something you don’t have time for, the hospital also has a Dunkin’ Donuts on the lower level of the main hospital building across the street. In addition to the typical Dunkin’ menu, they have sandwiches and soups, and are open 24 hours a day.

[email protected]

What: Campus Cuisine, St. Mary’s Hospital
Where: 100 Campus Ave., Lewiston (on the first floor of St. Mary’s Residences – formerly Maison Marcotte – across from St. Mary’s Hospital)
Reach them: 777-8600; stmarysmaine.com
When: Daily 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Why: Affordable prices, good food and it’s centrally located
Atmosphere: Spacious dining area, relatively lowkey

We check out CMMC’s cafeteria as well as its cozy coffeeshop, which bares little resemblance to the stereotype of hospital food service with its fresh-made soups, sandwiches, salads, coffee and baked goods. 


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