Wander at LongWoods in Cumberland

A new restaurant call Wander at LongWoods (instagram) is under construction in the town of Cumberland. The overall venture—which will include an on-site farm—is a collaboration between chefs Mike Allen and Rich Maggi, farmers Molly and Jordan McDuffie, and general manager Joe Atwood. The team hope to launch Wander by early June.

The farm will be an integral part of Wander at LongWoods providing food for the restaurant, an experiential component to the property and a farm store selling Longwoods products as well as those from other farms and food producers. The McDuffies plan to operate a small scale farm employing regenerative farming techniques raising pigs, chickens and cows in addition to the market garden.

Chefs Allen and Maggi will draw as many of the menu ingredients from the LongWoods farm as well as from other nearby farms to serve a seasonal elevated farm-to-table menu. While emphasizing local sourcing they expect to still utilize ingredients (e.g. citrus) that aren’t grown in Maine. The beverage program will feature wine, 6-8 taps of local beer, and cocktails produced in collaboration with Portland area distilleries. In addition to a dining room that will seat 70+, Wander will also have a terrace with outdoor seating, and a communal area extending out into the farm field with picnic tables, fire pits, Adirondack chairs.

Wander at LongWoods will be located at the LongWoods Preserve (instagram) which is being developed as a multi-use (restaurant, recreation, farm, etc) resource for the area. The 55 acre preserve is in land conservation through a collaboration between the Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust and the Maine Farmland Trust. The project was initiated and envisioned by land owner by Alex Timpson who spearheaded the conservation efforts on the property.

The building (shown above) that will house Wander was designed by Paul Designs Project. LongWoods Preserve is located at 76 Longwoods Road in Cumberland Center.

Auntie’s House on Free Street

Kennebunk-based Auntie’s House (website, facebook, instagram) has opened a Portland location in the new building at 40 Free Street.

They sell a range of baked goods and chocolates including their house specialty: the Whoopie Ball which is a mini whoopie pie dipped in chocolate. They come in a wide variety of flavors from the classic to ones like banana, blueberry and almond.

Auntie’s House is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday – chef Bijan Eslami is holding a pop-up for his BiziBuns food truck at Jing Yan.

February 11Ali Waks Adams is teaching a virtual cooking class to benefit the Oasis Free Clinic in Brunswick.

February 14 – it’s Valentine’s Day. Check with your favorite restaurant on special menus and events.

February 20Scratch Baking is teaching a bagel baking class.

March 1-12Maine Restaurant Week.

March 18Chris Toy is teaching a virtual cooking class to benefit the Oasis Free Clinic in Brunswick.

April 21 – The Good Food Awards will take place, there at 12 finalists from Maine in the running this year.

June 12-18Portland Wine Week.

July 23 – Open Farm Day.

September 10 – Maine Cheese Festival.

October 8 – Maine Open Creamery Day.

2023 Beard Awards Semifinalists

This year’s list of restaurant and chef semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards was just released. There are 11 semifinal nominees from Maine:

Additionally, chef David Vargas is a semifinalist in the Outstanding Chef category for his restaurant Vida Cantina in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Vargas also owns Ore Nell’s BBQ which is located on Badger Island in Kittery, Maine.

The final list of nominees will be released March 29th, and the awards ceremony will take place on Monday June 5th in Chicago.

Related information:

Continued Growth & Development

MaineBiz reports on the ongoing development of the Portland restaurant scene.

Today, as survivors seek to put pandemic setbacks behind them while grappling with industry-wide staffing and supply-chain shortages, Portland’s culinary cachet is on the rebound. Driving that momentum is a host of new investments in the 68,000-population southern coastal city that’s home to more than 500 licensed eating and drinking establishments.

BiziBuns Food Truck in Brunswick

Chef Bijan Eslami is planning to launch a food truck called BiziBuns (instagram) in Brunswick this spring.

Eslami will be serving a menu of buns and rice bowls. Options will include dishes like a lamb bun with sumac, onions and tahini, and rice bowls such as Persian green curry (ghorme sabzi) and a sour chicken with barberries and pickled sour grapes.

Eslami is currently the chef at Jing Yan where his cooking helped earn the restaurant 4 stars from Maine Sunday Telegram restaurant critic Andrew Ross. Watch the Jing Yan instagram account for word of a BiziBuns pop-up which will take place in February.

Eslami plans to locate BiziBuns on the Main Street Mall in Brunswick and be open through dinner hours closing at 10 pm.

Ruby’s Moving to 642 Congress St

Owners Matt and Corrinna Stum plan to move their West End restaurant Ruby’s (websiteinstagram) to 642 Congress Street to the storefront that was formerly occupied by Ada’s. The last service at the Pine Street Ruby’s West End will be on January 29th.

The Stums have put together a team that includes chef Garret LeClair, baker Nee-Nah Hall, barista Aly Shannon and bartender Ethan Cory. Ruby’s will be serving brunch, lunch and dinner.

The menu for the 40-seat restaurant is still under development with the working theme of “Maine roots, French inspired”. Some classic French dishes like cassoulet, duck confit, coq au vin, and loup du mer are expected to be part of the dinner menu as well as vegan and vegetarian options. Lunch and brunch menus will expand with options for soup, salads and sandwiches.

The team hope to open the new Ruby’s in February. They plan to initially be open Wednesday through Sunday, 9 am – 9 pm.

The Stum’s opened  Ruby’s West End in April 2021 at 64 Pine Street, and recently launched a new restaurant called Back River Bistro in Wiscasset.

New LB Kitchen Now Open

The new LB Kitchen (website, instagram) is now open. Owners Bryna Gootkind and chef Lee Farrington purchased the building on the corner of Congress and Smith Streets back in February and have completely renovated the corner unit to move and expand LB Kitchen into. The new LB will feature a 28-seat dining room, a retail market and a dedicated space for takeout pick-up.

LB Kitchen will be open everyday 8 am – 3 pm with their regular menu (food, drinks, children’s). Then from 3 to 6 pm they’ll be serving beer, wine, cider snacks and small plates during what they’ve dubbed Golden Hour (menu).

The original LB Kitchen storefront is being converted to serve as a brick and mortar location for Quanto Basta.

Bake Maine Pottery Cafe

Portland Pottery Cafe on Washington Ave will be reopening under new ownership as the Bake Maine (instagram) Pottery Cafe. Owners Doug Perry and Kristen Perry have been doing some light renovations and hope to reopen as soon as this weekend.

The menu (see below) includes a variety of sandwiches, wraps, toasts and baked goods for breakfast—yes, the raspberry scones will continue to be available—and soups and sandwiches for lunch.

The Perry’s grew up in Wells, Maine. Before taking over the Pottery Cafe they operated the 1690 House Bakeshop and Cafe and subsequently A Cafe and Bakery, both of which are in Wells. Kristen Perry had previously worked at both Flour Bakery and the Tatte Bakery in the Boston area.

Baked Maine will be open seven days a week, 8 am – 3 pm.