Pulled brisket sliders at Station 118 in Thomaston. Photo by Emily Moreau

I’ve never been a bumper sticker fan, but as I pulled into Thomaston, trailing behind a southbound SUV with Oklahoma plates, I knew I’d found the right vehicular flair for me.

“I break for CORNBREAD,” it spelled out in black letters, terminating in a triangular yellow wedge shedding ochre crumbs along the sticker’s bottom border. The SUV hit its turn signal at the entrance to the parking lot of Station 118 BBQ, and naturally, I followed. How could I not?

Station 118 has been on my must-visit list since it opened its doors near the start of the pandemic. Frequently one of the 15,000 travelers who drive past on any given summer day, I saw the smoke from the outdoor grills, the stacks of kiln-dried oak and wanted a closer look…just on a day where I wasn’t rushing to catch a ferry or transporting a motion-sick feline back to Portland.

BBQ restaurant Station 118 in Thomaston. Photo by Emily Moreau

It took a few years. In that time, Station 118 changed hands and underwent a design transformation. This former gas station is now an open-feeling space that blurs the distinctions between indoors and out, making it feel much larger than its 60-seat (inside) capacity would suggest. Corrugated metals, rough wood and two offset smokers just outside create a casual, rustic vibe that suits the place.

In the two years since current chef/owner Scott Goldrick and his partner, chef/owner Emily Moreau, began steering the strictly meat-and-sauce business toward a more pescatarian- and vegetarian-friendly menu, the restaurant has matured – well, as much as a restaurant proudly displaying a vanity license plate that reads, “A55hole” can. Who knows. Maybe I need to stop reading too much into messages from the backs of cars.

What’s irrefutable is that Station 118 BBQ’s menu is wide-ranging without being hundreds of items long. Scallops, salmon, shredded jackfruit and locally produced Heiwa tofu all feature in the menu’s regular rotation. None is framed as a compromise or a substitute.


“When we bought this business in 2021, we had a vision for it that was a little different than the pure ‘Texas-style smoking, and once it runs out, that’s it for the day’ thing,”Goldrick said. “My partner (Moreau) is a vegetarian, so we decided to create a menu that is so much more than that. The amount of tofu I sell in a week is something I never would have imagined.”

Understandable, if the surprisingly dense, smoky BBQ tofu entrée ($18) is any indication. You might expect that this dish would be little more than a showcase for the restaurant’s sweet-and-tangy house barbecue sauce, but after hours in one of the restaurant’s dueling smokers, the Heiwa tofu tightens up enough to hold its own against entrees, meat-based and otherwise.

Pork ribs, in specific, don’t fare so well by comparison. Goldrick’s dry-rubbed, half-rack ($22) smokes for six hours, at least a few of which involve tightly wrapping the pepper-flecked meat and steaming it in Freedom’s Edge apple cider from Albion. Perhaps the ribs need another finishing rub, a little extra salt or an adjustment of the smoker’s finicky timing, because on my recent visit, the meat itself was bland.

The restaurant’s five house-made barbecue sauces help compensate, but pork really ought to be the focal point, not mustard-heavy Carolina Gold or a too-sweet blueberry BBQ sauce that tastes like it should be a dessert topping.

Beef brisket is among Station 118’s stronger suits, especially pulled brisket seasoned with wonderful homemade pickled onions and a generous glug of chipotle-bourbon barbecue sauce (orders of magnitude better than all the other sauces at Station 118). Bundled into three overstuffed brioche-bun sliders ($22) and plated up with appealingly well-done fries, this plate is a must-order.

Less appealingly fried are the cauliflower bites ($10), an over-breaded, underseasoned appetizer of still-crunchy (read: mostly raw) florets. You’ll need sauce to get these down. Just skip the stodgy, Thai-inspired peanut sauce that accompanies the dish and grab a table-side bottle of the chipotle-bourbon instead.


Station 118’s peanut-butter pie. Photo by Emily Moreau

“You must want a box for those nuggets, right?” my server asked, spotting my still-bountiful serving of untouched cauliflower as she set down my slice of cheesecake-like peanut-butter pie ($8). “I’ll get you a box,” she added as I tucked into Chef Moreau’s rich, Oreo-crusted confection.

When she insisted on bringing me three separate boxes for all the food left on my table, I started to wonder if food waste wasn’t partly to blame for the seven black garbage bags lined up along the restaurant’s exterior retaining wall. “Don’t feel guilty. A lot of people don’t finish the cauliflower and take it home,” my server said. “We’d rather have you take it home than throw it out.”

Portions at Station 118 are indeed gigantic. Only my side order of paprika-tinted potato salad ($4) – a classic take on the mayonnaise-based new-potato side dish that’s as good as any I’ve eaten in Maine – came in what looked like an amount suitable for a solo diner.

But who am I to complain about extra food when the dish I cared about most was served as a square large enough to use as an area rug? “It’s probably the most photographed thing in the entire restaurant,” Goldrick told me, incredulous as to how a humble slice of sweet-savory, Northern-style cornbread ($8) could pull focus from the hodgepodge of commercial signs and military badges along one wall, the deck’s rough-hewn wood cladding and the wall-mounted LED televisions. “I think it’s the butter mold,” he added.

I think he’s right. The charming edible sculpture of a pig that lounges across the toasted top crust is both photogenic and functional. Don’t get me wrong, the cornbread recipe that Moreau and Goldrick inherited from their former colleague, chef Michael Salmon of the Hartstone Inn in Camden, is terrific on its own. But as the caricature of a piglet melts, it releases rivulets of paprika-speckled butter that transform this dish from a solid side to a treat worth braking for.

But use your signal instead of brake-checking your fellow travelers when you get to Thomaston. There’s plenty of cornbread at Station 118 to go around.


The ribs, potato salad and cornbread at Station 118. Photo by Emily Moreau


WHERE: 118 Main St., Thomaston. 207-593-8208. station118.com

SERVING:  Monday, 4-8 p.m.; Thursday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

PRICE RANGE: Appetizers and salads: $7-22, Sandwiches and entrees: $14-34

NOISE LEVEL: Oktoberfest

VEGETARIAN: Many dishes



BAR: Beer, wine, cocktails


BOTTOM LINE: Station 118 BBQ deserves praise for its vegetarian- and pescatarian-inclusive menu, especially its hearty, well-executed BBQ Heiwa tofu entree, dark-golden hand-cut fries and superb (Northern-style) cornbread. As for meats, there are some winners on the menu, plates like pulled brisket piled into toasted brioche slider buns, as well as less-successful dishes, like pink-fleshed pork ribs that retain little of their natural flavor. Service can be spotty (my server forgot to tell me about the day’s specials), and technique on some dishes (nearly raw corn-on-the-cob and undercooked cauliflower bites) frequently lacks polish, but as a spot to take a break from the Midcoast traffic, Station 118 fits the bill. Just order carefully.

Ratings follow this scale and take into consideration food, atmosphere, service, value and type of restaurant (a casual bistro will be judged as a casual bistro, an expensive upscale restaurant as such):

* Poor
** Fair
*** Good
**** Excellent
***** Extraordinary

The Maine Sunday Telegram visits each restaurant once; if the first meal was unsatisfactory, the reviewer returns for a second. The reviewer makes every attempt to dine anonymously and never accepts free food or drink.

Andrew Ross has written about food and dining in New York and the United Kingdom. He and his work have been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio and in The New York Times. He is the recipient of five recent Critic’s Awards from the Maine Press Association.

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