Year in Review: Best of 2014, Crowdfunding, National Press, ‘Culinary Boom’, Top Restaurants and Articles, Look Ahead to 2015

January 1st, 2015

lolita

2014 was a very busy year for the food and dining industry in Portland. I’ve scanned through the records for the past year and here’s my summary of the key events and trends:

  • Best Newcomers – There were more than 40 openings in 2014. Some lasted a few months or less, and others are very strong ventures that made an impact in their first year and I hope will be with us for many years to come. Of them, I’d put Central Provisions, Lolita and Palace Diner at the top of the class of 2014. Right out of the gate all three had a focused vision of what they wanted to be and delivered at a high level of consistency and quality.
  • Crowdfunding – Portland food businesses have been tapping into crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo since 2010 when Cakeface raised $1,545 on a $1,000 goal to buy baking equipment. This year that approach seems to have hit an all time high with approximately a dozen Maine food ventures raising more $350,000. Crowdfunding can be a good way for a new business owner to providing start-up capital while at the same building awareness and an online network of contributors who are also likely to be regular customers.
  • National Press – national press coverage of the Portland food scene was truly amazing to watch this year. There were feature articles in Bon Appétit, Saveur, Food & Wine, and the Wall Street Journal, and nearly every week there seemed to be reports on Portland food in publications as diverse as Maxim and the Financial Times. Press attention from outside Maine does tend to be cyclical so I’ll be surprised if this continues at the same level into 2015.
  • Beer – the amazing growth of the Maine beer industry continued in 2014 with approximately 20 new breweries opening across the state. In the Portland area a number of existing breweries added capacity, Bissell Brothers had an extremely successful first year, and both Foundation Brewing and Austin Street launched. Oxbow and Geary’s opened a tasting rooms in Portland in 2014, and Sierra Nevada brought their roving beer festival to Portland in August. Both the Maine Brew Bus and Maine Beer Tours seemed to be doing brisk business all summer. Another Portland brewery, the Fore River Brewing Company, is already under development with plans to open in 2015.
  • Under Construction – There are 20+ new businesses currently in various stages of development. A few themes I saw evident in the past year were small plates (Lolita, Central, Sur Lie) and a shift in interest to Mediterranean cuisine (Ebb & Flow, Lolita, Sur Lie, Lazari, Tiqa). The Longfellow Square area continued to be a hot spot for new business development and several eateries are now venturing into the post-Longfellow stretch of Congress (Tandem Bakery, Bramhall, Figgy’s, Arabian Days). Inner Washington Ave and the portion of Congress immediately nearby seems to also be gathering momentum. We’re also seeing beginings of a mobile to brick-and-mortar transition with the acquisition of Steve & Renee’s by Hella Good Tacos and Small Axe taking over the East Ender.
  • Upcoming in 2015 – the number of new businesses under development seems to be slightly tapering off but there are many new ventures already in process. The ones I’m looking forward to the most are:
    • the new incarnation of the East Ender by Karl Deuben and Bill Leavy
    • Figgy’s, a fried chicken and southern food cafe in the West End
    • Lincolns, a inexpensive bar in the Old Port
    • Maine & Loire, a natural wine shop opening soon on Washington Ave
    • Eventide/Hugo’s new restaurant, The Honey Paw
    • Dana Street and Sam Hayward’s new seafood restaurant on Commercial Street
    • The new eatery under construction on Market Street by Steve and Michelle Corry
    • The bar Joe Ricchio and Joel Beauchamp have in development

Notable Events of 2014

  • miyakedinerJanuary – Casa Fiesta and Miyake Diner opened, Small Axe’s Karl Deuben and Bill Leavy began the search for a brick and mortar restaurant, the Food Co-op announced that they leased a space at 290 Congress Street for their new retail store, Nathaniel Meiklejohn announced plans for his bar The Jewel Box, Novare Res and The Great Lost Beer were on Draft magazine’s list of America’s top beer bars, the Oxbow edition of Off the Wagon was released, Tandem’s Ayele Yirgacheffe was an award winner at the Good Food Awards, Shannon Bard was the featured chef of a James Beard House dinner, Little Bigs began selling crauxnuts and Mesa Verde went out of business.
  • centralFebruaryCentral Provisions and Thai 9 opened, the blog Eating Portland Alive got started, Oakhurst Dairy was sold to a national dairy farm cooperative, a controversy flared up over an archaic provision in Maine law that prohibited bars from listing the ABV of the beers they serve, Black Dinah announced plans to open a facility in Portland, Peggy Grodinsky became the food editor of the Press Herald, Tortilleria Pachanga started production, the list of James Beard semifinalists were released, word first surfaced about a new waterfront restaurant being launched by Dana Street, Jonah Fertig left Local Sprouts to help other organization successfully launch cooperatives, the Meat House closed.
  • fiftystoneMarch – Red Sea and Vietnam Bakery opened, Hella Good Taco bought Steve & Renee’s Diner, Portland Police made a formal recommendation to the City Council not to renew Sangillo’s liquor license, Maine Craft Distilling released their Fifty Stone single malt, Tandem announced plans to open a bakery in the West End, Star Chefs include several people from Portland in their 2014 Rising Star list, the Uprising iPhone app was released, three Maine chefs were contenders in the F&W’s People’s Best New Chef competition, MECA kicked off a culinary program, Hugo’s announced their Yankee Swap series and Maine Restaurant Week took place.
  • April – India Bazaar, Liquid M2 and Ana’s Mobile Gourmet opened, the Chalice mobile app launched, Hugo’s and Miyake were included in the Opinionated About Dining list of the top 100 restaurants in the US, Pepperclub began a search for a new space, the City Council voted not to renew Sangillo’s liquor license, the books Eating in Maine and Portland Food were released, and Roost and Slainte went out of business.
  • bestfoodblogMay – Clark Street Market, Old Port Spirits, Riverside Grill, Timber and Maine-ly Meatballs opened, Coastal Root Bitters launched, and Vincenza’s Bakery opened for a very short time on Exchange, Blue Rooster announced their summertime guest chef series, the inaugural Rum Riots cocktail festival took place, Piccolo held a Star Wars themed dinner on May the Fourth, PFM won the Best Food Blog category in the Phoenix readership poll, the Boston Globe published an article about Bissell Brothers, I led a Maine Brew Bus Portland Coffee House Tour and wrote a Portland dining guide for Down East magazine, El Rayo closed the Cantina, Gingko Blue and Down Home Cookin’ also closed.
  • slabJune – Lolita, Fishin’ Ships, CN Shawarma, King’s Head Pub, Foodworks, Anapurna’s Thali and Slab opened, Uncle Andy’s was featured in an episode of Restaurant Impossible, Dean’s Sweets announced plans to move to Fore Street, Food & Wine named Cara Stadler one of the Best New Chefs of 2014, Speckled Ax held a Panamanian/Gesha tasting, Bon Appetit published an article about food in Maine, partners Masa Miyake and Will Garfield decided to end their partnership resulting in the closure of Miyake Diner.
  • elrayoJulyEl Rayo Scarborough and Maps Cafe opened, Zest magazine launched, Saveur and Maxim both published articles about the Portland food scene, Tasting Table produced a Portland eating guide, Andrew Zimmern put together a Portland eating guide for Food & Wine, Down East made an exhaustive search for Maine’s best lobster roll, Piccolo hosted brewers from Oxbow and Del Ducato for a beer dinner, and Portland & Rochester went out of business.
  • beercampAugustThe Farm Stand, Ten Ten Pie and Tandem Bakery opened, an SUV crashed into Bruno’s, Beer This Week launched, Andrea Swanson bought Foley’s Bakery, the Maine Seaweed Festival took place, Tiqa announced plans to open a restaurant in the Marriott on Commercial Street and O’Maine Media owner Rory Strunk announced plans to launch a media kitchen, Central Provisions and Palace Diner were on the Bon Appetit list of Best New Restaurants in the US and Hunt alpine was on their list of the Best New Bars, Zagat published their list of the 10 hottest restaurants in Portland, chef Natalie ‘Figgy’ DiBenedetto announced plans to launch Skillet/Figgy’s in the West End, Sierra Nevada’s traveling Beer Camp festival came to Portland, Liquid M2 and Thai 9 went out of business.
  • nanlSeptember – Arcadia National, Geary’s tasting room, The Jewel Box, Huong’s, Golden Lotus and Sur Lie opened, Dean’s Sweets relocated to Fore Street, author Rowan Jacobsen was in town to launch his new book on heirloom apples, Novare led a campaign to get actor Bill Murray to come to Portland Beer Week, Rob Evans wrote an article about Portland for Serious Eats, the Pepperclub went out of business.
  • October – Bramhall, Arabian Days, C Salt and Bao Bao opened, Rosemont announced plans to open in the West End and Hugo’s announced plans to open The Honey Paw, the Boston Globe published an article about the ‘culinary boom’ in Portland, David Turin was the featured chef for a dinner at the James Beard House, food writer Malcolm Bedell announced his plans to launch a food truck called ‘Wich, Please, the Financial Times wrote an article about the Portland food scene, Maine Pie Line announced plans to close and Harvest on the Harbor took place.
  • sangillosNovember – Dutch’s, Oxbow tasting room, Ebb & Flow and the Portland Food Co-Op opened, the local chapter of the US Bartenders Guild got its start, Joe Ricchio posted his annual pumpkin beer survey, the Maine shrimp season cancelled for 2nd year, Sangillo’s appeal hearing took place, chefs Frank Anderson and Rebecca Ambrosi launched The Hunter’s Bend, the North Spore mushroom CSA got its start, preeminent wine writer/importer Terry Thiese was in Portland for a series of events, Portland Beer Week took place, Pocket Brunch held a breakfast and a game dinner, Mainebiz published an article about the Maine brewing industry, Alton Brown spoke at Merrill, and The Salt Exchange and Oscar’s New American went out of business.
  • palaccetunaDecember – Otto opens 2nd location in South Portland, Maine Craft Distilling opened a tasting room in Freeport, Frank Cornelissen was at Vinland for a natural wine dinner, Two Fat Cats bought Maine Pie Line, Palace Diner’s tuna fish sandwich was highlighted by Bon Appetit as one of their best meals of 2014, Ilma Lopez shared new about her husband Damian Sansonetti’s illness.

Top 10 Articles

  1. Tandem Bakery – first word on plans for Tandem Bakery (March 17)
  2. Bao Bao – floor plan and draft menu of the restaurant (April 26)
  3. Bramhall & Sur Lie – floor plan and draft menus for the bar and restaurant (August 2)
  4. F&W Andrew Zimmern – details on Food & Wine article by Andrew Zimmern on his favorite places to eat in Portland (July 19)
  5. Alton Brown – first word on his planned visit to Merrill in November (May 31)
  6. Guest Chef Series – details on the Blue Rooster summer guest chef series (May 8)
  7. The Jewel Box – first word on Nathaniel Meiklejohn’s plans to open The Jewel Box (January 7)
  8. Dutch’s Opening Soon – details on the soon to open Dutch’s with photos by Zack Bowen (November 3)
  9. The Honey Paw – first official word about Eventide/Hugo’s plans for a third restaurant (October 8)
  10. West End Rosemont – first official word about a Rosemont Market in the West End (October 8)

Top 25 Restaurants

  1. Central Provisions (-)
  2. Timber (-)
  3. Slab (-)
  4. Vinland (-)
  5. Empire Chinese Kitchen (11)
  6. Lolita (-)
  7. Outliers Eatery (2)
  8. Bao Bao Dumpling House (-)
  9. Blue Rooster Food Co. (3)
  10. Back Bay Grill (22)
  11. Caiola’s (10)
  12. C-Squared (-)
  13. The King’s Head (-)
  14. Piccolo (7)
  15. Eventide Oyster Company (4)
  16. Fore Street (27)
  17. Five Fifty-Five (18)
  18. East Ender (40)
  19. Grace (24)
  20. Hugo’s (14)
  21. Sur Lie (-)
  22. Petite Jacqueline (6)
  23. Blue Spoon (23)
  24. Golden Lotuus (-)
  25. Miyake Diner (-)

The numbers in parentheses indicate their rank last year. Order 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 Dig Portland, The Golden Dish, Urban Eye, Map & Menu, Eater Maine, Maine Today, and Peter Peter Portland Eater.

For more information on Portland’s food past see the 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 year in review reports, as well as PFM blog posts from 2009, 2008 and 2007, and the Portland Food Timeline.

Reviews: West End Deli, White Cap Grille

January 1st, 2015

The Press Herald has published a bar review of the White Cap Grille,

White Cap Grille has prime real estate in Portland’s Old Port but not so much in the minds of locals. Good for tourists who need a decent meal or a work crowd looking to accommodate fussy eaters, White Cap gets the job done. In the long run, it’s a restaurant that is more or less forgettable.

and an Eat & Run review of the West End Deli.

The turkey had a smoky flavor that I could taste through the dressing and cheese. The sauerkraut, to me, was more like a crunchy slaw, very fresh. The bread was toasty on the outside, chewy on the inside. And the whole sandwich was warm when I got it, since I got there at exactly the seven-minute mark.

Under Construction: Tiqa

December 31st, 2014

Urban Eye has posted a detailed update on Tiqa which is expected to open in January. The kitchen will be headed up by chef Bryan Dame and Patrick Morang will be the bar manager.

An in-house bakery will pump out rustic bread from Corsica and Lebanese flat breads. Crave a slice of semolina? Tiqa’s “bread program” will rise to the occasion.

Run independently from the hotel, Tiqa owners Deen Haleem and Carol Mitchell strive to put hospitality first. “This will be a warm, relaxing environment,” said James Lindvall, marketing director, who added “no one is doing this style of food in Maine.” Clearly there is Big City energy (and $$) running through this newcomer.

For additional details see this earlier post on Tiqa.

Press Herald Looks Forward

December 31st, 2014

Meredith Goad has assembled a list of “suggestions for ‘food experiences’ worth seeking out in 2015″,

When you’re talking food with friends, are you embarrassed to admit you’ve never been to Red’s in Wiscassett for one of their classic lobster rolls? Time to get in on the conversation. Here’s a goal for you in the new year: Make a list of can’t-miss Maine classics, and start checking them off.

and wine write Joe Appel has put together his 2015 wine resolutions.

So, moving into a new calendar year, here are my resolutions for trying to find different ways to engage with wine. I don’t expect to “achieve” all of them, or to accomplish even a single one of them comprehensively. But I’ll rejoice in the attempts.

The Coolest: Bard Coffee

December 30th, 2014

Business Insider has included Bard Coffee in their list of the 50 Coolest New Businesses In America.

Why it’s cool: Not only will you enjoy a healthy selection of small-batch single-origin brews at Bard, but the baristas are more than happy to share each batch’s backstory, as well as their vast knowledge of brewing styles. Bard also hosts monthly latte pouring competitions, with proceeds from each event benefiting a local charity. This shop isn’t just for coffee drinkers, but also for those who truly love the geeky ins and outs of coffee preparation.

Also on the list is A Gathering of Stitches in East Bayside.

IPA Releases: Swish & Epiphany

December 30th, 2014

swishBissell Brothers will be releasing a batch of their double IPA, Swish, in cans this Saturday starting at noon. They have 80 cases on-hand and their will be a limit of three 4-packs per person. Swish is 8% ABV and is made with Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe and Apollo hops.

Foundation Brewing will have their first production batch of Epiphany on tap at their tasting room starting at noon on Wednesday. Epiphany is an 8% ABV India Pale Ale made with Columbus, Cascade, Citra, Ella and Mosaic hops.

We indulged in our desire to create an IPA that personifies the vivid flavors that can be coaxed from the hop cone, painted on a canvas of soft malt that allows the flavors to shine through.  Extensively hopped in the kettle and in the fermentor, we spared nothing in making this beer.

Bissell Brothers

December 30th, 2014

The Business section in today’s Press Herald includes an article about Bissell Brothers Brewing Co.

“It was tough going and we’d truly exhausted all the money we started with and were still in a pretty big hole of debt,” Noah said. “It’s kind of cliche, but the only way to make money was to spend money. It was a tough decision at the time to drop 10 or 15 grand on that when we could barely keep the lights on, but we decided it’s what we needed to do.”

The bet, made in only two months after opening, paid off. The third fermentation tank increased their production capacity, but the lines to buy beer at the brewery continued to grow as word spread…

This Week’s Events: New Year’s Eve, Paella Fest

December 29th, 2014

MondayRosemont on Brighton is holding a wine tasting.

Tuesday — Rosemont on Commercial is holding a wine tasting.

Wednesday — The Farm Stand in South Portland is holding a pre-New Year’s Eve sparkling wine tasting.

New Year’s Eve — restaurants have been announcing their New Year’s Eve plans:

Thursday — Petite Jacqueline and Artemisia Cafe are serving a New Year’s day brunch

Friday — the West End Deli is holding a wine tasting.

SaturdayLeroux Kitchen is holding a wine tasting, and the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place at the Urban Farm Fermentory.

Sunday — the 5th Annual Great Paella Fest is scheduled to take place at Local 188.

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.

Vinland in Boston Magazine

December 29th, 2014

The new issue of Boston Magazine includes a profile of Vinland.

So how does Levi stick to his plan during the harshest season? By dovetailing a fairly standard fine-dining playbook (strip steak with poached parsnips, crispy chicken with lovage) with more-exotic ideas (fermented-buckwheat bread sticks may start a meal; radicchio might appear in a cocktail). Creative workarounds replace pantry staples: Yogurt whey and apple vinegar make fine substitutes for the acid in lemon juice; maple syrup and honey are used in lieu of sugar; and the clarified butter known as ghee takes the place of olive oil. There is, Levi acknowledges, no good substitute for black pepper—so if he thinks a dish needs it, he’ll scrap it altogether.

Review of Timber

December 28th, 2014

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Timber.

Timber Steakhouse & Rotisserie turns tradition on its head with a dramatic dining room and a varied menu featuring fish, duck and pork as well as delicious beef and chicken. Don’t miss the Tuna Tataki starter, a fine introduction to the kitchen’s skill and artistry. Do watch your wallet, though: With filet mignon priced at $41 and New York Steak at $49, memorable meals here may take a bite out of your savings.

Interview with Guy Hernandez

December 27th, 2014

The Portland Phoenix has interviewed Guy Hernandez, chef and co-owner of Lolita,

Guy and Stella moved from St. Louis to Maine to work as an architect and a consultant, respectively, before falling into the food scene with 158 Bakeshop and what later became Scratch Bakery in South Portland. Late last year, the pair surprised Portlanders when they announced they were closing their popular Munjoy Hill restaurant Bar Lola to open Lolita. Guy said the feedback’s been great and the community’s been nothing but supportive, and he finally has time to step out for meals elsewhere, like the Tokyo Abura at Pai Men Miyake.

The article is part of a new series. Each week the Phoenix sits down with a local chef to get their thoughts on a dish from someone else’s restaurant. The first 2 interviews in the series were with Luke Aberle from Piccolo and Geoff Wiech from Hunt + Alpine.

CBD Kinetic Coffee Sculpture

December 27th, 2014

The Bangor Daily News has published an article on the kinetic coffee sculpture that sits atop the new CBD building in East Bayside. The article includes a short video interview with the artist.

The handiwork of South Portland sculptor Jac Ouellette is a 1,000-pound statement piece that can be seen from Interstate 295.

“This was a good challenge for me,” said Ouellette, who spent the last year working on the sculpture, which soars 15 feet high on the Diamond Street building and moves with the wind.

Bar Review of El Rayo

December 25th, 2014

The Press Herald has published a bar review of El Rayo in Scarborough.

Expect to find parents, kids and grandparents at El Rayo in Scarborough, but a young, professional crowd at the bar area. The service is super quick, the drinks are tried and true, and what better bar food is there if not fish tacos and Mexico City-style corn on the cob?

Up and Coming

December 24th, 2014

CNN has included Portland in their list of Up and Coming Foodie Destinations.

There are nearly 600 restaurants in the city of 66,000 — one of the highest ratios of any town in the country. Many of them specialize in fresh, local fare.

Five Fifty Five currently has a local beef tartar on the menu, as well as Gulf of Maine cod and truffled lobster mac and cheese. Hugos is doing a tasting menu that includes rabbit with Brussels sprouts, spaetzil and mustard, grilled swordfish and a cream of broccoli soup. And Piccolo is putting an Italian spin on a local pork chop, hake, and an eggplant, tomato and ricotta dish.

20 Best Beers: Coolship Resurgam

December 24th, 2014

Food Republic has included Allagash Coolship Resurgam in their list of the 20 Big Beers of the Year.

The beer writer Joshua Bernstein introduced me to this older release at a bottle share this fall, and its funky, citrus-forward flavors have lodged firmly in my memory since. Resurgam is part of the company’s coolship program, meaning it ferments spontaneously via interaction with natural yeasts in open-air vats. It won a GABF medal in 2010 and again this year, with silver in the Belgian-style lambic or Sour Ale category.

Best New Breweries: Bissell Brothers

December 23rd, 2014

Paste magazine has included Bissell Brothers in their list of the Best New Breweries of 2014.

The bros actually opened the doors of their nano-brewery late in 2013, but this year has seen them gain considerable momentum; The Substance IPA continues to sate Portland-area hopheads, and hoppy amber Bucolia didn’t do too bad a job either, but Bissell Brothers really spread its wings this past month with the release of Angels with Filthy Souls, an Amarillo-laced milk porter that should immediately assuage any fears of a redundant portfolio on the brewery’s part. If expansion is not on their radar, then the rest of us are worse off for it.

This Week’s Events: Christmas, New Year’s Eve List (Updated)

December 22nd, 2014

Thursday — it’s Christmas Day.

Saturday — the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place at the Urban Farm Fermentory.

New Year’s Eve — restaurants have started announcing their New Year’s Eve dinner plans. I’ll add more listings as information becomes available:

      • Artemisia Cafe, 4-course dinner for $65 per person
      • Back Bay Grill, 4-course dinner, $96 per person
      • Bao Bao Dumpling House is holding a Chinese street food party starting at 10pm, “$28 buys you a glass a bubbles and passed bites all night”.
      • BiBo’s Madd Apple Cafe, 3-course dinner, $50 per person.
      • Boone’s, 5-course dinner, $85/$110 per person
      • Central Provisions is throwing a party. The $100 ticket comes with a “welcome punch, passed hors d’oeuvres, 2 drink tickets and a midnight toast
      • Ebb & Flow is serving their regular menu “plus lots of specials” and will be “giving out free bubbles to everyone to ring in 2015″.
      • Eventide, will be throwing a party, $50 per person
      • Five Fifty-Five, 5-course dinner in the restaurant for $100 per person with optional wine pairings and truffle, caviar, and oyster supplements. Five Fifty-Five is also planning a champagne and caviar lounge in their private dinning room for $50 per person.
      • Grace will be serving their regular dinner menu. A cover charge of $20 (which funds the Good Shepherd Food Bank) will get you into the late night party which comes with complementary champagne toast.
      • MJ’s Wine Bar “will be offering 9 different sparkling wines by the glass this year. All at either $6 or $10 a glass”.
      • Petite Jacqueline, 3-course dinner for $70 per person, there are also optional truffle, caviar, oyster and foie gras supplements.
      • Piccolo, 8-course tasting menu with a glass of prosecco, $110 per person
      • Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea, 4-course menu, $85 per person with optional wine pairing for $30
      • The Frog & Turtle, 4-course dinner $65 per person
      • Vinland, 5-course/5-snack tasting menu, $90 per person
      • Zapoteca, 5-course dinner, $70 per person with optional tequila tasting for $25

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.

Map & Menu 2014

December 20th, 2014

Map & Menu has posted a list of their favorite Maine food and drink of 2014.

We’re finishing up our Best of 2014 posts with the most challenging to whittle down and write – our favorite food (and drinks!) from our home state of Maine. There are plenty of spots in Portland and beyond that we wish we could include on this list, these are simply the dishes and restaurants that stood out to us and kept us coming back for more in 2014.

Review of Sur Lie

December 20th, 2014

The Golden Dish has published a second review of Sur Lie.

But with so many good restaurants in town, Sur-Lie has matured and can stand on its own merits as a fine place to have a wonderful meal casually or with as much pomp as you like.

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.