A team from the SMCC culinary school won 1st place in this year’s Maine Restaurant Week breakfast competition, reports the Press Herald.
SMCC for the win! Chef and Southern Maine Community College culinary instructor Bo Byrne, along with several of his students, took the top prize at The Incredible Breakfast cook-off Thursday morning. Their winning dish was the “Pico Suavé” Egg.
The annual event, in which 10 local chefs competed for best breakfast entrée, drew some 250 people to Sea Dog Brewing in South Portland and raised $8,000 for the social service agency Preble Street.
Catface Cafe (website, instagram) is scheduled to open this Friday. The new daytime cafe is located in Biddeford in the space that was formerly occupied by Part and Parcel.
Sur Lie owner Krista Cole and business partner Tyler VanScoy plan to initially be open Tuesday through Friday, 8 am – 4 pm and on the weekends 9 am – 2 pm for brunch.
Chef Mimi Weissenborn has put together a menu (see below) of toasts, salads, and sandwiches. The cafe also has a full coffee program, beer, wine and cocktails to pair with the food.
Cole and VanScoy want Catface to be a community gathering place. The location includes a back patio which can host warm weather events or be a spot to hang out solo or with friends. They plan to hosts monthly special events at Catface for the people of Biddeford to gather and socialize.
Cole is a founder of Sur Lie which opened for business in 2014. In 2023 she was a James Beard Awards semifinalist in the Outstanding Restaurateur category and Sur Lie was a semifinalist in the Outstanding Hospitality category. In 2022 Cole took over ownership of Gather in Yarmouth from the restaurant’s founder, Matt Chappell. VanScoy has worked in the hospitality industry in a variety of front and back of house roles for over 10 years.
Part & Parcel owners Danielle O’Neill and Ali Preble closed their market/cafe in late December.
Bowman and Anna Brown have bought the building at 34 Portland Street where they plan to relocate their acclaimed restaurant Elda (website, instagram). A recent instagram post shared,
In the course of the last [CRAZY] six years we have learned so much about our adopted home state. This summer we invite you experience an even more personal and intimate deep-dive into the beauty, bounty, and magic of the woods and waters of Maine. Please stay tuned for info and inspo as we continue to learn, build, and connect. We hope to welcome to the table soon.
The new restaurant will feature an integrated kitchen/dining room on an expanded main floor of the building. Elda will be offering a shorter version of the chef’s tasting menu with a focus on utilizing indigenous ingredients. Diners will have the option of two different beverage pairings: one featuring on reserve wines, and another exploring cider and sake.
34 Portland Street was most recently the home of Candy’s which closed in 2020. The Browns hope complete the buildout of the restaurant in time to launch the new Elda in late summer.
Elda initially opened in Biddeford in December 2017, and moved to its most recent location at 14 Main Street in the summer of 2021. In January the Browns announced the closure of their Scandinavian cafe Jackrabbit.
Brown was a 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chef, and a multi-year Beard Awards semifinalist for Best Chef: Southwest for his former restaurant Forage in Salt Lake City. In addition he was a Best Chef: Northeast Beard Award semifinalist in 2020 and 2022 for Elda. Eater named Elda to their list of the Best New Restaurants in the country in 2018 and the New York Times reported on Elda in the same year.
Shown above are the building that will house the new version of Elda, chef Brown in his kitchen at 14 Main Street in Biddeford from 2023, and a dish served at Elda in October 2021 featuring a Merrit Island oyster, cherrystone clam, lobster ceviche and a smoke mussel.
Bath’s newest restaurant the Linden + Front (facebook, instagram) opened late last week. Owners Zac and Khristine Leeman have renovated the the former Relish/Salt Pine Social building at 244 Front Street into an 85–seat restaurant.
The menu (see below) offers selection of small plates, soups, salads, flatbreads, sandwiches like the quack monsieur and entrees including wood-fired steak and chop like a 24 oz cowboy ribeye and a rack of lamb. Linden + Front has a full bar with draft beers, wine and takes on classic cocktails.
Chef Zac Leeman grew up on nearby Orrs Island and is a graduate of Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island. The Leemans met in Minnesota where they were both worked in the restaurant industry. They opened their first Maine restaurant, Sundrenched, on Bailey Island in 2022 which they plan to reopen for the season in May.
Linden + Front will initially be open Thursday through Monday, 5 – 8 pm (8:30 on Fridays and Saturdays).
PMQ Pizza Magazine has published an article about Peng’s Pizza.
Chris Daniels, owner and operator of Peng’s Pizza Pies in Biddeford, Maine, makes a signature pie that will blow your mind. The gradual process of creating it neatly mirrors Daniels’ journey as a pizza maker: it’s been a steady, deliberate process.
Huong Le will be launching a vegetarian and vegan Vietnamese takeout restaurant this Sunday called Mama Le’s.
Le is just back from a month long visit to Vietnam and will be folding recent dining experiences from her trip along with her decades of experience in the restaurant experience into the menu for the restaurant. The menu includes appetizers like vegetarian Cha Gio (egg rolls filled with mushrooms, carrot and taro root), a choice of vegan banh mi, and main dishes like Pho Chay (vegana pho) and Mi Xao Rau (lo mein with mixed vegetables).
Mama Le will operate out of the Banh Appetit shop at 171 Cumberland Ave, which is owned and operated by her daughter Snow Thi Le. Mama Le will be open Sunday 11 am – 3 pm, and Monday through Friday 5 – 8 pm.
The Maine Sunday Telegram published a very good feature article about Huong Le this past May. Le opened Portland’s first sit-down Vietnamese restaurant Huong’s Vietnamese Food in 2000. Below is a photo of Huong Le and her three daughters.
Blue Lobster Urban Winery (facebook, website, instagram) has announced plans to move their production facility and tasting room to 200 Anderson Street where they’ll be taking over the space that was formerly the Urban Farm Fermentory tasting room.
This will house a larger production space to handle our growth, an expanded tasting room, parking lot and outdoor space. With so much new room for activities, you can expect that we will be introducing new weekly events, an expanded wine cocktail program and other options we hope to announce soon!
Blue Lobster will continue to be open at 219 Anderson Street through March 22nd. Opening date for their new spot is still TBD.
UFF closed their tasting room on February 24th. Blue Lobster launched in 2017 and opened their tasting room in 2018. They have been located since then at 219 Anderson Street in the Rockingham Electric building.
Monday – Chef Ilma Lopez will be speaking at the Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta.
Tuesday – Chef Sam Hayward will be participating in a Maine Voices Live event organized by the Press Herald, and La Gallera will be holding a pop-up at Cong Tu Bot. Christa Barfield of FarmerJawn will be speaking at Orange Bike Brewing. Bar Futo is launching their skewer chef collaboration series. Smalls is holding an event featuring pinchos and South American wines.
Friday – The 16th Annual Maine Restaurant Week starts and runs through March 12th. Catface Cafe (website, instagram) is opening in Biddeford, 8 am – 4 pm.
March 2 – Dutchman’s will be teaching a bagel making class at the Wolfe’s Neck Center.
March 3 – Thistle & Grouse and Bissell Brothers are collaborating on a 5-course beer dinner.
March 13 – Tap & Taste, a gluten-free tasting event, will be taking place at Orange Bike Brewing in collaboration with Mrs. Gee Free Living and 2Gether.
March 28 – Ballast will be hosting a murder mystery dinner.
April 3 – The Beard Foundation will release the 2024 list of restaurant and chef awards nominees. There are 10 semifinalists from Maine this year.
April 28 – The Casco Bay Chef’s Association is holding their 2024 annual dinner.
April 29 – The Good Food Awards winners will be announced. Eight Maine food producers are finalists in the 2024 Good Food awards program.
May 11 – CiderFeast, an “all-inclusive tasting event celebrates craft ciders from some of the top cider makers in New England and beyond” is taking place.
May 18 – The Maine Wild Wine Fest is taking place in Freeport.
June 10-16 – Portland Wine Week is taking place.
June 26 – Secret Supper (instagram) is holding a dinner in the Portland area.
June 29 – The 3rd Annual Mast Landing Wavy Days Festival is taking place.
July 25/26 – The Kneading Conference is taking place in Skowhegan.
August 30 – September 1 – Maine Apple Camp is taking place.
September 20-22 – The Common Ground Fair will be taking place.
Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes an article about brothers Bounahra and Bounahcree Kim who are the chefs at Miyake and the soon to open Oun Lido’s.
The young Kim brothers, born to Cambodian immigrant parents, are bona fide rising star chefs. Their ascendant career trajectories show that if you’re ceaselessly hard-working, humble, gracious, exceedingly polite, joyful, respectful and well respected by seemingly everyone around you, you just may find success.
The paper also has a report on how fewer office workers is impacting lunch time restaurant business.
Those figures, however, only consider whether a business is paying for the space and not whether or how often people are coming into work there. According to several local business and real estate organizations, there are no statistics available that show how much the downtown workforce population has dropped because of remote work. But the store owners and managers witnessing it daily say they’ve seen 15%-30% less downtown foot traffic on weekdays, and that drop makes it challenging to run a small business.
New food and dining developments are taking place all across Maine. Here are some recent updates to keep you in the know on what’s going on:
- A new brewery called Well & Good Brewing (website, facebook, instagram) is under construction in North Yarmouth near The Purple House and Trudy Birds. Owners Byron and Elise Kern plan to produce range of beer styles. There initial line will include two hazy IPAs, a light lager, an oatmeal stout, a hard ginger ale, and a lemon lavender gose. The Kerns hope to open Well & Good sometime in April. Well & Good is located at 173 Cumberland Road.
- Khristopher Hogg, the former owner of Perennial Cider Bar in Belfast, plans to launch his new Swanville restaurant Circumstance in May.
- The Sun Journal has published a report on three Maine coffee roasters: Side by Each Brewing, Crouse House Coffee, and Carrabassett Coffee.
- Down East has published an article about Oak & Ember in Buxton.
- Gifford’s Ice Cream has resumed production at their Skowhegan facility which had suffered a fire in February 2023.