Isuken Somali Bantu Food Truck

April 19th, 2018

A group of Somali Bantu immigrants in Maine are launching a new food truck in Lewiston.

The Isuken (website, facebook) food truck is raising start-up funds through a Kickstarter campaign for a down payment on the truck and for other expenses.

Here’s some information on the menu:

The main products that Isuken food truck will offer are Sambusas, fried pastries filled with local meats and veggies. We will offer beef, chicken, fish, and veggie (vegan) options. We will also offer a gluten-free and vegan rice, corn, bean, and veggie dishes and grilled meats. For beverages, we will offer our Somali chai tea, a sweet, spicy, milky tea.

The Guardian on Portland

April 18th, 2018

The Guardian has published a survey of Portland for their Best Towns and Small Cities in the US series.

Restaurants and bars featured in the article: Arcadia, Bayside Bowl, Blue, Bolster Snow, Eventide, Holy Donut, Local Sprouts, Oxbow, The Bearded Lady.

Under Construction: Eaux

April 18th, 2018

Chef Evan Richardson has leased the space at 90 Exchange Street, formerly occupied by Crooners & Cocktails, where he plans to open a scaled-up restaurant version of his food cart Eaux (facebook, instagram).

Eaux will serve a menu of “New Orleans and Southern inspired food…in a bistro setting” Wednesday through Monday, 11:30 am to 1 am. Richardson plans to open by late May.

Here’s a look at the draft menu:

Eaux will join an ever growing cadre of restaurants that got their start as food carts and food trucks. The list includes Bite Into Maine, Mami, Small Axe/East Ender, Love Kupcakes/Baristas+Bites, Hella Good Tacos, Mainely Burgers, Urban Sugar and CN Shawarma/Baharat.

Under Construction: Lio

April 18th, 2018

Lio (instagram, facebook), the new wine-focused restaurant from Cara and Cecile Stadler – owners of Tao Yuan and Bao Bao, has applied for a liquor license. As described in the application cover letter,

The concept of Lio is to offer a wide variety of wines by the glass, including many high end wines that are typically not available by the glass, with menu options specifically paired with the wines. The cuisine will be modern European offered on small plates, allowing diners to have food & wine typical of fine dining restaurants without the time or cost commitment of fine dining. The layout of the restaurant is designed around a serpentine bar configuration, that allows diners to cluster in groups around the curves, as well as a chefs table and private dining room. The space also has a deck and patio. It is an amazing location with a unique layout that we believe will be a unique and welcome addition to the already diverse restaurant scene in Portland.

Owen Price has joined the team as the chef for the restaurant. You can see some pictures of the Lio kitchen and early menu development on his instagram account.

The draft menu (page 87) includes smaller plates like Parsnip & Potato Latkes, pastas such as Bucatini with lump crab, chili flake, crab butter, breadcrumbs, olive oil, lemon, parsley and larger dishes such as Salt-crusted Whole Fish.

Here’s a look at the floor plan for Lio:

Under Construction: Crown Jewel

April 18th, 2018

Crown Jewel (website, facebook, instagram) has applied for a liquor license. The 35-seat restaurant is under construction on Great Diamond Island. Owner Alexadra Wight was the organizer of the highly regarded Flanagans Table series that ran for several years in Buxton.

Crown Jewel will be open seasonally starting in 2018 through Columbus Day. Rocky Hunter has joined the team as the chef for the restaurant. Hunter was formerly the Vegetarian Chef de Cusine at David’s Opus Ten.

The draft menu (page 64) includes smaller items such as smoked mackerel rillet, and Fryburg potato & caviar, entrees such as pan seared cod and gnocchi verde.

For a list of other restaurants under development see our Under Construction List.

This Week’s Events: Chopped, MCD Cocktails, Farmhouse Funkadelic, Fabulous Femmes

April 16th, 2018

TuesdayAustin Miller, the chef from Mami, will be competing in an upcoming episode of the Food TV Network show Chopped, and Central Provisions will be have 9 glass pours from the Selections de la Vina portfolio.

Thursday – there will be a wine tasting at Bow Street Beverage.

SaturdayMaine Craft Distilling is launching their new line of canned cocktails, Novare Res is holding Farmhouse Funkadelic – their annual Oxbow tap takeover, Liquid Riot is releasing the 2018 edition of their beer Blushing Star, and the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place.

Sunday – the Fabulous Femmes dinner is taking place at Chaval.

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.

Blue Lobster Wine Co.

April 15th, 2018

Blue Lobster Wine Co. (facebook, website, instagram) held a soft opening of their tap room on Anderson Street yesterday. Their official opening is scheduled for Friday April 20 4-7 pm.

Reviews: Black Cow, Tuscan Table, The Snug

April 15th, 2018

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Tuscan Table,

And while executive chef Lee Skawinski’s menu does not yet match the sophistication and polish of the space, it is moving in the right direction. Nearly four months in, you’ll find plenty of adequate options as well as a few truly great dishes, such as a remarkably light pork Milanese; a coffee-infused, three-layer chocolate cake; and a savory appetizer of roasted mushrooms on creamy soft polenta. When Tuscan Table offers a glimpse of its potential, as it does through its toasted-rye spaetzle with pickled onions, dill, chervil and roasted fennel cream – an accompaniment to its wood-grilled salmon fillet – it’s easy to imagine that this boxy restaurant next to the Maine Mall could one day become one of the area’s best.

the Portland Phoenix and Peter Peter Portland Eater have reviewed Black Cow, and

Having served its first burger just a few weeks ago on March 19, Black Cow is clearly still in its tinkering phase. The good news is that after three visits, improvements seem to be exponential rather than incremental. Fries that were initially soggy and pale are now crisp, golden-hued and impossible to stop devouring. Burgers — juicy, yet bordering on being overcooked — are framed by pleasantly chewy buns and an umami-laden caramelized tomato mayo. The chicken sandwich feels painstakingly recreated in its square-shaped patty embodiment, highlighted by an airy deep-fried texture that’s off the charts.

the Press Herald has reviewed The Snug.

Along with Michelle’s absence, the shift in vibe may also be a result of who is hanging out at The Snug these days. A look around the room yields glimpses of familiar faces from the era of Mama’s Crowbar, which was up the street and is now the Munjoy Hill Tavern with an entirely different crowd and scene. In many ways, the vibe at The Snug today feels not too dissimilar from what “Mama” and her staff curated at the Crowbar: quiet, respectful, welcoming. It’s an interesting function of what can happen when a neighboring establishment with such identity serves its final drink.

Maine Lobster Shack Opens Today

April 13th, 2018

The Maine Lobster Shack (website, facebook, instagram, twitter) I s slated to open today at 3 pm. MLS is located at 425 Fore Street in the same block of store fronts as Gelato Fiasco.

The restaurant seats 38 with additional sidewalk seating for 14 once the weather warms up.

Growing Number of Vegan Options

April 12th, 2018

The Press Herald has published a report on the growing options for vegans served up in Portland restaurants.

I’ve been writing about vegetarian and vegan food trends for the Press Herald for more than a decade, and interest in vegan food has steadily climbed during that time. But something has changed lately. With only a few exceptions, every Maine chef, restaurateur and purveyor I’ve talked with in the past six months has mentioned a marked increase in demand for vegan food.

Tickets for Fabulous Femmes Dinner on Sale

April 12th, 2018

Tickets for this year’s Fabulous Femmes dinner are now on sale.

The dinner for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital is a collaboration of among an all female line-up of many of Maine’s most outstanding culinary talents:

  • Ilma Lopez, chef and co-owner of Chaval and Piccolo, and 2018 James Beard semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef
  • James Beard award winner Melissa Kelly from Primo Restaurant
  • James Beard nominated chef Cara Stadler from Tao Yuan​, Bao Bao​, and Lio
  • James Beard nominated chef Krista Kern Desjarlais from The Purple House and Bresca And The Honey Bee​
  • Kim Rodgers, head pastry chef atEventide, The Honey Paw, Hugo’s, and Little Spruce Baking Co.
  • Erica Archer, sommelier and founder of Wine Wise
  • Briana Holt, head baker at Tandem Coffee
  • Alysia Zoidis, founder of East End Cup Cakes

The dinner is scheduled to take place April 22nd at Chaval.

Portland Wine Week Q&A

April 11th, 2018

Map & Menu has published a Q&A about Portland Wine Week with Erica Archer from Wine Wise, Stella Hernandez from Lolita and Kelly Nelson from Piccolo.

What are some of the Portland Wine Week events you’re most looking forward to?
: I’m excited about the diversity. I want everyone to feel like there is something for them. I really want the locals to feel that way more than anything. Maybe for them, it’s pick two things – supporting someone you really like and then trying something that’s completely out of their repertoire.

See the current list of events scheduled for Portland Wine Week, online at More events are being added to the calendar in the coming weeks. To stay informed sign-up for the PWW email newsletter.

Britts Acquire Stake in Harvest in the Harbor

April 11th, 2018

Jim and Gillian Britt, organizers of Maine Restaurant Week, and principals of the gBritt PR agency have bought Gabrielle Garofalo’s 50% share ownership in Harvest on the Harbor.

Mami Chef on Chopped

April 10th, 2018

Austin Miller, chef and co-owner of Mami, will be appearing on an upcoming episode of Chopped, according to a report from Eating Portland Alive.

Episode 8, A Frog Leg Up, is set to air April 17 at 10pm.

Allagash x Oxbow = Wild Rivulet

April 10th, 2018

Allagash and Oxbow are releasing a collaboration beer this weekend named Wild Rivulet, “Wild Rivulet carries hints of citrus, wine-like aromas and a silky, dry flavor that’s augmented by tartness from its time in the foudre.

Wild Rivulet will be available at Allagash and at the Oxbow Saison Day event.