Reviews: Esidore’s Bistro, Lazzari, Nonesuch River Brewing

January 7th, 2018

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Esidore’s Bistro,

His eclectic, world-aware style of cooking borrows elements from several disparate cuisines – Mexican, Vietnamese, Japanese, just to name a few – while keeping everything he prepares gluten-free.

The Bollard has reviewed Lazzari, and

For a few hours each weekend, this new Congress Street eatery offers a short menu of outstanding wood-fired pies whose carefully chosen toppings bring “breakfast” and “pizza” together in sweet harmony.

the Press Herald has reviewed Nonesuch River Brewing.

I loved my burger, which was deceivingly simple. The bacon was charred to a crisp, as I like it, and the burger was cooked medium, as I requested. But what made it stand out was the sear that the chef achieved. The outer skin of the burger was slightly hard and charred, but the burger itself was pink and juicy. Those juices were full of smoky flavors, and they mingled with all the other elements to create a variety of flavors in each bite. The bun was grilled (or toasted) ever so slightly.

Under Construction: The Proper Cup

January 6th, 2018

A new coffee shop called The Proper Cup (website, facebook, instagram) is under construction at 500 Forest Ave in the space formerly occupied by Express Nail Supply. Proper Cup is located on Forest in between Rose Foods and Little Woodfords on the corner of Noyes Street.

Owners Rachel Kreie and Zachary Figoli are planning to open their “Quirky, professional and industrial themed cafe that sells high quality espresso drinks, drip coffee and tasty pastries from local vendors” in late January or early February.

Kreie and Figoli have both worked as baristas. They have a combined passion for creating a community oriented coffee shop for the people living and working the neighborhood.

New Owner of European Bakery

January 5th, 2018

After 28 years in business founder Helen Budri has sold the European Bakery in Falmouth.

“It was a hard decision because our customers are our family and we love our work,” Budri said this week. But she decided to sell, she said, because “after 28 years we wanted more time with family. It was (just) time.”

Under Construction: Maine Beer Co.

January 4th, 2018

Maine Beer Company has leased a 30,000 sq ft space at 15 Sanders Way in Westbrook for a “storage and distribution site” to enable MBC to expand production capacity, reports Mainebiz.

Under Construction: Definitive Brewing Co.

January 4th, 2018

A new brewery called the Definitive Brewing Co. (website, facebook, instagram, twitter) is now under construction at 35 Industrial Way across the street from Allagash. Definitive Brewing plans to open this Spring.

Best Meals of 2017

January 3rd, 2018

Maine Sunday Telegram restaurant critic Andrew Ross has assembled his list of the best meals he had last year.

Looking back, I count myself extraordinarily lucky to have lived in Maine over the past 12 months – fork (and occasionally chopsticks) in hand to fend off the world outside.

Bubba’s Sulky Lounge

January 2nd, 2018

Down East has published a feature about Bubba’s Sulky Lounge.

The “mayor of Portland Street,” as Bubba has been called, is a retired Marine, former high-school basketball star, and proud owner of 14 race horses (hence the bar’s name — a “sulky” being a two-wheeled, jockey-toting cart used in harness racing). Bubba’s tall and soft-spoken, a lifelong Portlander who doesn’t like talking about his age but is somewhere in the neighborhood of 80. He opened Bubba’s in 1961, rebuilt it after a fire in 1981, and put in the light-up dance floor sometime thereafter (no one quite remembers). He stops in daily, often adding this or that to the decor.

MCD Brunch

January 2nd, 2018

Maine Craft Distilling will begin serving brunch this Sunday, 10 – 3.

10 Years Ago in January

January 1st, 2018

As a kid my favorite part of reading Scientific American was the 50 and 100 Years Ago section. Being able to look back and see what the hot topics in science with a century earlier was fascinating.

While I don’t (yet) have an accurate take on the food scene in Portland a century ago, Portland Food Map reached its 10-year anniversary last year. Daily chronicling the food scene has produced a lot of information to work with and this month I’m going to start a new monthly column looking back at what the key stories were a decade ago.

Here’s a look at the top stories from January 2008:

  • StarEast opened in Woodfords Corner.
  • News of Novare Res became public—this brought the Under Construction List up to a total of 12(!) businesses under development.
  • Nancy English was the Maine Sunday Telegram restaurant critic, and blogs Type A Diversions and Portland Psst were very active in reviewing and reporting on what was going on.
  • Otto Pizza co-owner Mike Keon changed the name of his Commercial Street restaurant from Crab Louie to One Eyed Jacks Pizza.
  • Three years prior to the launch of Instagram, Portland food blogger From Way Away registered the word ‘Pastarazzi‘ into the Urban Dictionary. It was defined, “Foodie bloggers who insist on taking pictures of their meal at nice restaurants.”
  • Rabelais and Slow Food Portland collaborated to hold the Slow Food Writers Night at SPACE Gallery.
  • Both Bleachers and Wild Oats closed.

Under Construction: Poké Pop

January 1st, 2018

A new poké shop called Poké Pop is under construction at 658 Congress Street in Longfellow Square. The 29-seat restaurant plans to serve poké, bubble tea and bingsu, a dessert made with shaved ice sweetened with condensed milk and fruit syrup.

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

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

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

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

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

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.