Archive for December, 2017

2017 Year in Review: Trends, Key Events, Most Popular Restaurants & Articles, Obituaries

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

I’ve scanned through the records for the past year and here’s a summary of events and trends for 2017:

  • New Restaurants – 2017 was truly a banner year for new establishments with the launch of Sichuan Kitchen, Tipo, Izakaya Minato, LB Kitchen, Mami, Cheevitdee, Baharat, Lazarri, Cong Tu Bot, Noble Barbecue, Chaval, Little Giant, Belleville, Blyth & Burrows, Rose Foods, Roma Cafe, Bolster Snow, Tuscan Table, Highroller Lobster and Yobo, Elda and many more. Read it through again, that’s an amazing list. We’re not likely to see such a strong crop of new businesses in 2018, giving everyone the time to catch up and try them all. You can better ensure the ones you love the best stick around by eating at your favorites often.
  • Year of the Bagel – I think The Blueberry Files put it best when she declared we’ve “officially reached peak bagel”. Between the the pre-existing businesses (Mister Bagel, Union Bagel, Scratch Baking, 158) and the ones that launched in the last 12 or so months (Purple House, Rose Foods, Toast Bar, Rover) and Forage which is still to come there’s been an explosion of new bagel options. This isn’t, as far as I can tell, a national trend cresting over Portland but purely a local phenomenon.
  • Brick & Mortar – 2017 saw a continuation of the ‘diesel to dining room’ trend of food trucks/carts opening brick and mortar restaurants. CN Shawarma converted to Baharat, Mami opened on Fore Street, El Corazon in Longfellow Square, High Roller on Exchange Street, Bite Into Maine in Scarborough, and Noble Barbecue in Riverton.
  • Upcoming in 2018 – The pace of new restaurant and bar projects seems to be tapering off. Of the 30+ new ventures being tracked on the PFM Under Construction list, the ones I’m most looking forward to in 2018 are:
    • Black Cow – the “soda fountain reimagined” with a “focus on great burgers, classic sodas and an inventive cocktail program” taking over the Sonny’s space
    • Crown Jewel – Alex Wight from Flanagan’s Table is opening a new place on Great Diamond Island
    • Drifters Wife – the new and expanded Drifters Wife/Maine & Loire under construction at 59 Washington Ave
    • Falafel Underground – the new iteration of the popular Cumberland Ave takeout restaurant
    • Gross Confection Bar – Brant Dadaleares new dessert/cocktail bar
    • Forage Market – the Lewiston bagel bakery/cafe’s new location on Washington Ave
    • Lio – Cara Stadler’s new wine restaurant that is under construction on Spring Street
    • Quill Books & Beverage – a bookstore/bar under construction in Westbrook
    • Sagamore Hill – a new cocktail bar on Congress in the Arts District

Top 10 Articles

The most popular articles published on Portland Food Map in the past year.

  1. Noble Barbecue – opening of the new barbecue shop in Riverton
  2. Winter Storm Watch – list of restaurants open during the March 14th Nor’easter
  3. Duckfat x Oxbow – announcement of the Washington Ave collaboration between Oxbow and Duckfat
  4. Rose Foods – first word on Chad Conley’s plans to open a new eatery in Portland
  5. Legends Rest – first word on Legends Rest Taproom in Westbrook
  6. Elda – first word on Bowman Brown’s plans to open Elda in Biddeford
  7. Fall Openings – an overview of openings planned for September and October
  8. Sun Bakery & Restaurant – first word on the new Asian bakery/restaurant taking over the Thurston’s space in Woodford’s Square.
  9. Bite Into Maine – first word on Bite Into Maine’s plan to open a restaurant in Scarborough
  10. Elsmere II – Report on Elsmere BBQ’a plans to open a second location on Stevens Ave

 

Notable Events of 2017

  • January – Sichuan Kitchen, Tipo, Izakaya Minato, Coffee Me Up and the West End Other Side Deli opened, Joseph Hardy and Adam Moore bought Howie’s Pub, the Press Herald took note of the growing number of food trucks going from ‘diesel to dining rooms‘, both Speckled Ax and Bard won Good Food Awards, K. Hortons announced plans to close after 18 years in business, and Roustabout, Catbird Creamery, Home Catering and Granny’s closed.
  • February – LB Kitchen, Trattoria Fanny, Vieux Port Creole, Jager and A&C Grocery opened, 12 Maine chefs/restaurants were semifinalists for the 2017 James Beard Awards, and the Maine Restaurant Association named Josh Berry their Chef of the Year.
  • March – BRGR Bar, Cafe Crepe and Bahart opened, chefs Taylor and Wiley from Eventide and Rob Tod from Allagash were named final nominees for the James Beard Awards, D.L. Gearing Brewing was sold to Alan Lapoint, USM launched a Food Studies Program, Mainebiz named Bob and Carmen Garver from Bard Coffee as the 2017 Small Business Leaders of the Year, chefs Matt Ginn and Josh Berry prepared dinners at the James Beard House, the 16th Annual PSO Wine Dinner took place, and the Portland Meatball Company closed.
  • April – Battery Steele Brewing, Mami, Cheevitdee and the Mashed food truck opened and Holy Donut opened a new location in Scarborough, Joe’s opened at their new location on Congress Street, the International Pectinid Workshop took place in Portland, Hugo’s and Miyake were named to the Opinionated About Dining Top 100 list, Milo DeGoosh participated in the US Barista Guild competition, Cara Stadler reverted her restaurants to the standard tipping model, and Aurora Provisions was purchased by Melissa Carr.
  • May – The 5 Spot, the Thainy Boda food truck and Eaux food cart, El Corazon and Lazzari opened, Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley from Eventide won the 2017 Best Chef: Northeast James Beard Award, New England Distilling released their Tidewalker bourbon, and Salty Sally’s closed.
  • June – Hifi Donuts, Yobo, Maiz, Yes Brewing, the Hakka Me and Falafel Mafia food trucks, Blyth & Burrows, Opium and North 43 Bistro opened, 1820 Wines launched, Allagash pledged to buy one million pounds of Maine-grown grain per year by 2021, the 1st Annual Inner Washington Block Party took place, the first issue of Edible Maine was released, Knack Factory produced a video about Rabelais, Fork Food Lab merged with Foodworks in Brooklyn, and Zapoteca closed.
  • July – Cong Tu Bot, Noble Barbecue, Chaval, Little Giant, Rose Foods, Skordo, the Strictly Cold Brew and Paletas food carts, Portland Pulp, Fishermen’s Grill, Miller Seafood, Linda Kate opened, CN Traveler published an article about how Portland ‘keeps getting cooler’, and Vieux Port Creole closed.
  • August – Roma Cafe, Island Creek, Nonesuch River Brewing, and the Kind Stack and Mainely Hotdogs food carts opened, Bon Appetit named The Purple House and Nina June to their list of the 50 Best New Restaurants in America, it was the 10th anniversary of Portland Food Map, and Joshua McFadden, chef of Ava Gene’s and Tusk in Portland Oregon served a dinner at the Palace Diner, and Trattoria Fanny closed.
  • September – Bolster Snow, the Nom Bai food truck and Blue Lobster Wine Company opened, Sean Ryan Turley kicked off his apple column for the Press Herald, AdWeek highlighted Might & Main’s influence in turning Portland into ‘the hippest foodie town in New England’, and Dirigo Coffee went out of business.
  • October – Eventide opened their new location in Boston, the Scratch Baking Toast Bar, Belleville, Mainely Wraps, Little Woodfords, Leavitt & Sons and Higher Grounds opened, the 4th Annual Heirloom Apple Tasting took place, Rep. Chellie Pingree received a leadership award from the Beard Foundation, Drifters Wife announced plans to expand, and Falafel Underground closed.
  • November – Bite Into Maine, Sun Bakery & Restaurant, Goodfire Brewing, Rover and One Six Green opened, Eater’s Bill Addison included Eventide on his list of the nation’s 38 ‘essential’ restaurants, Sonny’s announced plans to close and make way for Black Cow, Saint Joseph’s held the 2017 Food System Innovation Challenge, 3 Maine companies were finalists for the 2018 Good Food Awards, and the Winter Farmers’ Market relocated to the Maine Girls Academy.
  • December – Tuscan Table, Highroller Lobster and Elda opened, as did newest Rosemont Market, Moran’s Market reopened, Portland punched in at #27 on Zagat’s list of America’s Most Exciting Food Cities, and Rhum closed.

Top 25 Restaurants

  1. Tipo (-)
  2. Chaval (-)
  3. Baharat (-)
  4. Little Giant (-)
  5. Izakaya Minato (-)
  6. Isa (4)
  7. Sichuan Kitchen (-)
  8. Cong Tu Bot (-)
  9. Scales (3)
  10. Woodford F&B (2)
  11. The Treehouse (16)
  12. Trattoria Fanny (-)
  13. Roma Cafe (-)
  14. Petite Jacqueline (10)
  15. Piccolo (11)
  16. BRGR Bar (-)
  17. East Ender (9)
  18. Noble Barbecue (-)
  19. Empire (14)
  20. Evo (14)
  21. Yobo (-)
  22. The Honey Paw (18)
  23. Union (7)
  24. Bao Bao Dumpling House (17)
  25. El Corazon (-)

The numbers in parentheses indicate their rank last year. The order of the list is determined by the number of times these restaurants were looked up on PFM during the year.

Passings

For some other perspectives on the past year see the Portland Press Herald, Portland Phoenix, Portland Magazine, Map & Menu, The Beer Babe, Peter Peter Portland Eater, Maine Sunday Telegram and The 207 Foodie.

Here are links to the Portland Food Map year in review reports for 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010.

Reviews: Tuscan Table, Boda

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

The Golden Dish has reviewed Tuscan Table, and

The restaurant is barely a week old, but it seems like it’s been there forever; the well-trained staff keeps it all going. This certainly is a restaurateur’s marvel of good work and efforts, and I’m glad that it has established itself so quickly.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Boda.

Boda createss Thai food that transcends typical takeout and makes the customer feel like they’re dining finely, but in a very casual, relaxed atmosphere at a moderate price. It’s one of the first places I bring guests when I have someone visiting. If you haven’t been there, you should probably go.

Rhum Closed

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Rhum, the tiki cocktail bar and restaurant on Cross Street, closed last night, December 30. Rhum launched February 6, 2016. It was part of the Fifth Food Group led by Jason Loring.

Update: The Press Herald has now also posted a report about Rhum closing.

Oyster Farming

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram traces the oysters “journey from sea to table”.

Customers may not know where Basket Island is – a 10-acre island one mile southwest of Cousins Island, owned by Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust – or the specific origins of any of the other 11 Maine-grown oysters on Eventide’s menu. They might know only that slightly sweet oyster they slurped down with a flavored ice or a red wine mignonette is local, of Maine. And delicious.

But how did it get to their table? How long was its journey and what did it entail?

Omi’s SoPo Opening Monday

Friday, December 29th, 2017

Omi’s Coffee Shop has announced plans to open at their new location in Willard Square at 372 Cottage Ave on Monday January 1st.

Under Construction: Bow Street

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

The Press Herald has published a report on Bow Street’s plans to relocate out of the Public Market House and to their new building on Forest Ave.

A new Bow Street sign hangs outside the Forest Avenue location and the shelves have been stocked with some products. An employee at the Public Market House said Tuesday the Forest Avenue location should open in early January. The store will be able to sell beer and wine while it waits for a Jan. 17 hearing with the city and the state Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations to relocate its liquor license.

Northern Hospitality Due Out in June

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

Portland Hunt & Alpine co-owners, Andrew and Briana Volk have been working on a new book entitled, Northern Hospitality.

The book is due out early this summer and is now available for pre-order.

NYT: Decline of Maine Shrimp Fishery

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

The New York Times has published an article on the Maine Shrimp fishery. Sam Hayward, Don Lindgren and Glen Libby are all featured in this article by Mary Pols.

So far, according to scientists who survey the Gulf of Maine annually, it hasn’t. Their most recent data show Northern shrimp numbers at a historic low for the 34 years in which they have been counting the crustacean, Pandalus borealis. Egg production is down. Survival rates for larvae are poor.

This Week’s Events: Christmas, NYE List

Monday, December 25th, 2017

Monday – it’s Christmas.

Friday – there will be a wine tasting at the West End Rosemont.

Saturday – the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place.

New Year’s Eve – Restaurants are still announcing their NYE plans. IF you don’t see your favorite listed here be sure to give them a call:

  • Baharat – pre fixe and regular menu.
  • Bolster Snow – 3-course dinner, $65 per person.
  • Boone’s – 4-course dinner, $95 per person, 9 – 2am they’ll be a NYE gala for $40 per person, $125 if you combine both options. The events are a benefit for Full Plates Full Potential.
  • Central Provisions – 5-course dinner with optional pairings, $150 per person.
  • Chaval – serving regular menu plus specials.
  • East Ender – serving regular menu.
  • Evo – 4- and 7-course menus.
  • Five Fifty-Five – 5-course dinner, $100 per person.
  • Grace – will be open serving their regular menu.
  • Hunt & Alpine – champagne cocktail and special menu.
  • Little Giant – will be serving their regular menu with some NYE specials.
  • Lolita – a 5-course dinner with optional wine pairings, $110 per person (tip included).
  • Petite Jacqueline – 3- and 5-course dinner, $45/$65 per person.
  • Piccolo – 10-course dinner, $115 per person.
  • Sonny’s – their last night in operation before starting the renovations for the launch Black Cow.
  • Terlingua – 4-course tasting menu in addition to their regular menu.
  • Tipo – 4-course dinner, $75 per person with optional wine pairings ($35).
  • Tiqa – 3-course dinner for $55 per person.
  • Vinland – 5-course dinner for $121.60 (tax and tip included) plus optional pairings.
  • Woodford F&B – will be serving their regular menu with some NYE special until 10pm, the rest of the evening is a menu of fried chicken, oysters, caviar and champagne.

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.

Moran’s Market Re-Opened

Sunday, December 24th, 2017

Moran’s Market (facebook) at 1576 Forest Ave re-opened Friday. The neighborhood market has been closed since a fire damaged the building in September 2016.

Reviews: El Corazon, Woodford F&B, Lazzari, Bite Into Maine

Sunday, December 24th, 2017

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed El Corazon,

It’s easy to get distracted at El Corazon, a Portland restaurant that offers an enormous range of dishes from across Mexico. Some, like carnitas-filled quesadillas, a jiggly housemade flan and fruity hibiscus agua fresca, demonstrate clearly why the business, an offshoot of a local food truck, has built up such a loyal following. Yet on the same, vast menu are bland items like albondigas soup, chicken sopes and fried pollock tacos, listed alongside overcooked carne asada and a saccharine seafood cocktail.

Portland Phoenix has reviewed Woodford F&B,

Proprietors Birch Shambaugh and Fayth Preyer — along with chef Courtney Loreg — have created an intimate venue for well-executed bistro food on perhaps the most hectic corner in the greater Portland area, and it’s amazing how well it works. Despite the unfortunate, near-24/7 presence of construction and traffic buzzing outside as part of the major Woodfords Corner redesign, the room itself remains warm, lively and romantic. F&B’s interior showcases both classic and modern elements of design, evoking feelings of sitting in a Blade Runner-esque diner with slightly Parisian leanings.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Lazzari, and

Lazarri isn’t redefining pizza, it’s just taking it and making it to exacting standards. They’re also making sure that all the side notes – non-pizza food, drinks, and staff – are killing it too. Whether you’re starting your night there, ending it, or it’s your entire evening, there’s no doubt a visit to Lazzari will make you happy. It seems to be what they do. And they’re doing it well.

the Press Herald has reviewed Bite Into Maine.

I tried the LGC, a lobster grilled cheese with chipotle aioli and fontina and sharp cheddar cheeses on sourdough bread for $11.95. It was buttery and golden brown on the outside. The cheeses were creamy, the lobster chunks were tender, and the chipotle aioli had a little kick that took a few seconds to register.

Under Construction: Legends Rest

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

The American Journal has published an update on Legends Rest,

The other owners are Mike Barton and Minervino’s sister and Westbrook resident, Meg Minervino. The 1,000-square-foot space will seat 35 people and will have a late 80s to early 90s feel that will “capture the old school sports bar vibe,” Tom Minverino said.

For more information see the original announcement on PFM.

Seaweed Aquaculture

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Civil Eats has published an article about seaweed aquaculture in Maine.

There are many varieties of seaweeds, and methods of farming differ, but sugar kelp production works well in Maine. Kelp farming generally involves gathering source tissue from wild kelp and then using the spores from that tissue in a lab to grow kelp seedlings or “sporophytes” on strings that are then attached to ropes strung out just below the ocean’s surface. Leaf-like blades then grow downward while clinging to the rope from what is called a holdfast, hanging below the surface of the water in rows.

EDL Must Drink List

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Eat Drink Lucky has assembled a list of 32 ‘must drink’ cocktails, coffees and other imbibables available in the Portland area.

2017 Most Exciting Food Cities

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Portland has clocked in at #27 on Zagat’s 2017 list of the Most Exciting Food Cities in America.

Maine’s formerly sleepy little coastal capital has blossomed into a full on dining destination over the past few years, led by an ambitious flock of artisans, brewers, bakers and chefs…and it’s safe to say that Portland is officially taking the New England culinary scene by storm.