Review of The Jewel Box

December 19th, 2014

The Press Herald has published a bar review of The Jewel Box,

The Jewel Box is mellow and classy, but not in a fancy way. There are moments when you feel like you’ve stepped inside a Wes Anderson film, and others when you might be on the set of Mad Men. Either way, Nan’l Meiklejohn, a.k.a. “The Bearded Lady,” and his staff will see to it that you have a well-crafted cocktail, some light snacks and a whole lot of good service.

Maine Craft Distilling in Freeport Now Open

December 19th, 2014

mcd_freeportMaine Craft Distilling is having a soft opening for their new Freeport tasting room/mixology shop today.

Maine Craft Distilling-Freeport edition is now open for biz. We are calling it our “soft” opening and are sure there is much that we will need to improve upon but come on by and try us out!!! The gala grand opening will be in the new year.

The tasting room is located at 7 Mill Street.

Under Construction: 46 Market Street

December 18th, 2014

The Golden Dish reports that Steve and Michelle Corry have leased 46 Market Street where they plan on opening a

casual restaurant serving French-inspired café  salads, sandwiches, soups and wine throughout the day with breakfast, lunch and dinnertime service.  The focus, however, will be on pastry, headed by a highly regarded local pastry chef, whose name was not, as yet, revealed. Count on Parisian-style espresso and coffee, killer croissants at breakfast and classic eclairs and Napoleons, French onion soup and salad Nicoise as part of a casual menu of light fare.

Pig + Poet/Chef Sam Talbot

December 18th, 2014

samtalbotLark Hotels has announced that chef Sam Talbot will be joining Lark to launch Pig + Poet, the restaurant at Whitehall, their new property in Camden which is slated to reopen this May.

Talbot was the Founding Executive Chef at Surf Lodge in Montauk and the Imperial No. Nine in NYC. He’s the author of The Sweet Life: Diabetes without Boundaries and was a semi-finalist and “Fan Favorite” on season 2 of Top Chef.

Here are some additional details on the restaurant from the Lark press release:

Focusing on Maine’s farmland, fisheries and game, the restaurant will feature a raw bar, signature roast pork dishes, Sam’s fresh take on lobster rolls, chowder and blueberry-sweet corn cobbler just to name few items. A charcuterie bar will offer sausages and cheese selections. The “poet” in the name is a nod to the chef’s role in the creative process, as well as a subtle wink to Edna St. Vincent Millay, a Pulitzer-prize winning poet who was discovered at Whitehall Inn in 1912.

“I’ve always loved the great outdoors and having a real connection to the food that comes out of my kitchen,” Chef Talbot said. “It’s become a bit of a cliche to say that my food is farm-to-fork, but that’s truly what it will be. Being in Camden is an inspiring opportunity for me to work with new local vendors, flavors and experiences. I have always been drawn to the water and waterfront towns and I’m excited to join the amazing food movement going on in the MidCoast, Portland and throughout Maine.”

Lark Hotels runs a several well regarded boutique inns including the Pomegranate Inn in Portland.

Interview with Fred Forsley

December 18th, 2014

The Press Herald has published an interview with Shipyard co-owner Fred Forsley.

Q: From the business perspective, is it complicated?
It looks like a simple business, but it can be complicated in the sense of getting a brand to grow and to get more than an initial sampling. From day one, the product was world-class and that made it easier to sell. At the end of the day, sales and marketing is a key ingredient, but it’s the quality of the product.

Under Construction: New Street/Hayward Restaurant

December 17th, 2014

The Golden Dish has a report on the as-yet-unnamed new seafood restaurant being developed on the Portland waterfront by Dana Street and Sam Hayward.

It hasn’t been named yet, but Street described it to me as a classic New England seafood house reminiscent of the way fish houses were in the early part of the 20th century as brasserie-style dining rooms. While he didn’t go into much detail about the menu, he offered this: It will resemble the simplicity of Fore Street’s straightforward approach, using the finest and freshest local ingredients. The focus will be on seafood but will also include steaks, chicken, lamb and pork done in the inimitable style of Hayward and his team of chefs. The food will be at once old-fashioned yet contemporary…

Gulf of Maine Fisheries

December 17th, 2014

The New York Times published an article this week about the impact warming sea temperatures are having on cod and other fisheries in the Gulf of Maine.

In the vast gulf that arcs from Massachusetts’s shores to Canada’s Bay of Fundy, cod was once king. It paid for fishermen’s boats, fed their families and put their children through college. In one halcyon year in the mid-1980s, the codfish catch reached 25,000 tons.

Today, the cod population has collapsed. Last month, regulators effectively banned fishing for six months while they pondered what to do, and next year, fishermen will be allowed to catch just a quarter of what they could before the ban.

Catbird Creamey

December 16th, 2014

Today’s Press Herald includes an article about the Catbird Creamery in Westbrook.

“Vanilla in the summertime pretty much walks out the door,” said Corey DiGirolamo, who runs the shop with her husband, Andrew Warren.

That’s fine, DiGirolamo said, but the couple put a lot of effort into stretching the idea of ice cream flavors in a lot of different directions, like Furious George, which features caramelized bananas and dark chocolate chips. And, oh, hot pepper.

Catbird is in the midst of a $60,000 Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise money so they can move the business to new quarters.

Neighborhood Markets

December 16th, 2014

The Golden Dish has put together a survey of Portland-area neighborhood markets: Fresh Approach, Smaha’s Legion Square Market, Pat’s Meat Market and Rosemont.

Neighborhood food shops are virtually a thing of the past, yet Portland has held onto a few. These neighborhood stores are not relics, rather they’re critical to their communities and where residents get the basics like meat, produce, groceries and even baked goods and avoid the hassle of congested supermarket lots or glacial waits at check-out lines.

Letter from Ilma Lopez

December 15th, 2014

For the past two and half months Damian Sansonetti, chef and co-owner of Piccolo and Blue Rooster, has been battling a significant illness. He’s now returned home from a long hospital stay. His wife and partner Ilma Lopez has asked me to post this letter to make the situation public and express the gratitude of the family for all the help they’ve received during this time.

Ten weeks ago, Isabella and I took Damian to the hospital. Finally this week, he returned home to Portland from Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. What has been a long, difficult and uncertain period for our family is finally coming full circle. Damian is home and beginning again to do what he loves to do more than anything in the world: eating food.

Due to the medical ambiguity and uncertain outcome of Damian’s condition, we have strived to keep the situation private. Thankfully, today we are able to publically acknowledge that, while much mending is to be done, Damian is well and will be returning to the kitchen soon. We would like to thank those that have worked in his stead and kept the restaurants running like clockwork. Luke Aberle, Kelly Nelson, Dan McCarthy, Randy Cruse, Jason Williams, Kim Rodgers – we owe you the world. Thank you–and for all the support we received from the community we are eternally grateful.

We hope to see you soon at Piccolo or Blue Rooster soon.

Ilma Lopez

Reviews: Tandem Bakery & The Jewel Box

December 15th, 2014

The Dig Portland site is now live with content from the first 4 issues including reviews of The Bearded Lady and Tandem Bakery.

But great drinks, made with homemade bitters and drams, are what made Nathaniel legendary before the Jewel Box ever opened…At the bar a short cocktail menu changes weekly. They are indeed well-crafted and beautiful in their glass. On a recent visit the best was the bourbon-based, turbid, and frothy-textured Lion’s Tail. An allspice dram adds some rum sweetness and warm spice, and lime gives it a sour bite. The Japanese cocktail had a candied lemon flavor, with a darker licorice underneath. A Boulevardier had a syrupy depth with orange and spice. And the Martinez, reddish and thin, in a lovely glass with curving ribs, sweetens and spices the martini with a dash of maraschino liqueur and various bitters.

This Week’s Events

December 15th, 2014

Tuesday — Lolita is holding their inaugural Winter Solstice Cocktail Fest and the monthly Local Foods Networking Breakfast is taking place at Local Sprouts.

WednesdayBlack Tie is teaching a cooking class.

Thursday — there will be a sparkling wine and cheese tasting at the Public Market House as well as a pair of wine tasting at the Rosemont Markets on Brighton and Commercial Streets.

Saturday — the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place at the Urban Farm Fermentory and Rosemont is holding a wine tasting at their Commercial Street store.

For more information on these and other upcoming food happenings in the area, visit the event calendar.

If you are holding a food event this week that’s not listed above, publicize it by adding it as a comment to this post.

Review of Street & Co.

December 14th, 2014

The Maine Sunday Telwgram has reviewed Street & Co.

The cooking can be uneven at this noisy and popular seafood restaurant in the Old Port, so stick with standards: Mussels Provencal simmered in garlic, white wine and butter; Sole Francaise; and Scallops with Pernod and Cream are signature dishes that showcase the kitchen’s strengths. If you’re craving bivalves, go early and sit at the bar: It opens at 5 p.m. daily for drinks and oysters.

Sprudge Interview with Tandem Bakery

December 14th, 2014

Coffee industry insider Sprudge has published an interview with Will Pratt and Briana Holt from Tandem Bakery.

Are you able to do anything different with coffee service at the second space?
Pratt: We’re doing Fetcos over there, which has been pretty good. It’s actually been harder to dial in than we thought—we thought it was just press play and forget about it, but it presents a lot of fun challenges. And we’ve actually been using the Mahlkönig K30, we’ve been doing espresso shots—longer shots—and the espressos up there are amazing. We’re adding AeroPress and other made-to-order stuff in the next couple weeks as well. It’s been crazy how the reaction to the space makes people forget that we’re a coffee company, so we’re trying to put that back in there as well. Every picture we see is of the food!

Q&A with Sonja Swanberg

December 14th, 2014

A Blissful Interlude has published a Q&A with Scratch Baking co-owner Sonja Swanberg.

<strong”>What’s your favorite thing (you, personally) to bake at Scratch?

Sunshine Cake.  It’s an old family recipe, which we don’t always have, but I really love making it.

Under Construction: Lincolns

December 13th, 2014

Mark Ohlson, Nathan Drinkwater and Stephen Briggs are launching Lincolns, a “cash only lounge for locals to escape the madness of the old port and see quality entertainment” at 36 Market Street. Lincolns will be in the basement level space that had been the home to Market Street Eats and many years back was the location a cocktail lounge called Maza. According to their letter of intent,

Lincolns will be a bar that functions on the premise of simplicity. We sell a short list of common, premium beers and alcohols all at $5. We will also offer chili and potato & pasta salad also at the $5 price point.

Ohlson is the owner of MJ’s Wine Bar, Drinkwater is a bartender at Gritty’s and Briggs works at Bull Feeney’s. They hope to open Lincolns in January.

Here’s a copy of the draft menu (page 95 of the City Council packet) as well as a floor plan.



Under Construction: East Ender

December 13th, 2014

As reported back in November, Small Axe co-owners Karl Deuben and Bill Leavy are in the process of buying the East Ender. The deal is expected to close in January and after completing some renovations they plan to re-open in February or March next year.

Deuben and Leavy have now applied for a liquor license giving us all our first look at the lunch and dinner menus (page 120 of the City Council packet). Here are excerpts from the menus:



BA Best Meals of 2014

December 12th, 2014


Bon Appétit has included the Tuna Sandwich at Palace Diner in their list of the Best Meals of 2014.

Palace Diner is a 15-seat charmer located in a shiny red 1927 dining car in Biddeford, Maine, located a 30-minute drive South of Portland. The two former fine dining chefs/owners—Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell—do simple and nostalgic diner food amazingly well. Their bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast is perfect. And, damn, those Palace potatoes: boiled, smashed down, and then crisped with abandon on the griddle.

But it’s the tuna salad sandwich (with a side of crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside French fries) that I go back for. It’s not rocket science: just good ingredients executed with passion and precision. The bread is always toasted perfectly, the tuna to mayo ratio spot on, and the addition of dill and cucumber is just the way my mom used to make them for me back in grade school. Pair with a hangover and Coke and all is well with the world.

Maine’s Young Farmers

December 12th, 2014

MPBN has aired a piece on a new crop of young farrmers in Maine.

“I think that we want to be reconnected with the fundamentals of life,” Gerritsen says, “with growing food, with producing things with our own hands. Living in the city, you commute by subway, you buy your food at the supermarket, you work in a cubicle all day. You’re not intimately tied to anything.”

Review of Ruski’s

December 12th, 2014

The Golden Dish has reviewed Ruski’s.

The burgers were textbook good. They were perfectly grilled to medium rare and had the essential outer charred crust that gives the beef so much texture and flavor.  The restaurant has many cooks, and that night Will was in the kitchen and did his job very well.  For $8.95 you get a half pound burger on a big hefty roll with a mound of fries.  Cocktails like premium vodka on the rocks are $6.50, and beers are often on special from $2.50 for PBR to premium drafts at $3.75. With tax, tip and drinks the $20 each spent on dinner was a satisfyingly cut-rate night on the town worth repeating many times over.