Catface Cafe Opens Friday

Catface Cafe (websiteinstagram) 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.

Elda Moving to Portland

Bowman and Anna Brown have bought the building at 34 Portland Street where they plan to relocate their acclaimed restaurant Elda (websiteinstagram). 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.

Linden + Front in Bath

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 85seat 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).

Mama Le’s Opens Sunday

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 Moving

Blue Lobster Urban Winery (facebookwebsiteinstagram) 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.

Upcoming Events

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 (websiteinstagram) is opening in Biddeford, 8 am – 4 pm.

March 2Dutchman’s will be teaching a bagel making class at the Wolfe’s Neck Center.

March 3Thistle & Grouse and Bissell Brothers are collaborating on a 5-course beer dinner.

March 13Tap & Taste, a gluten-free tasting event, will be taking place at Orange Bike Brewing in collaboration with Mrs. Gee Free Living and 2Gether.

March 28Ballast 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 11CiderFeast, 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 10-16Portland 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 30September 1Maine Apple Camp is taking place.

September 20-22 – The Common Ground Fair will be taking place.

Kim Brothers, Old Port Lunch

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.

Maine Food & Dining News: North Yarmouth, Swanville, Buxton, Skowhegan, Lewiston/Auburn, Kingfield

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:

5-10-15: February 2024

The Portland Food Map archive of posts provides a chronicle of the past 16+ years of the Portland restaurant scene. While a lot of the reporting here is about what’s happening now and coming next, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at what the hot topics were from 5, 10 and 15 years ago.

Here’s are highlights from February 2009, 2014 and 2019:

  • In 2009 One Longfellow Square and Rabelais Books announced the launch of a food film series. The idea was that each month they partnered with a local chef who’d select a food film that was meaningful to them and prepare a meal to complement the screening at One Longfellow.
  • Backyard chickens were a hot topic and in early 2009 the City Council passed an ordinance to make them legal to raise in Portland.
  • Rob Schatz launched his food blog Eating Portland Alive in 2014. A decade and 3,651 posts later and Schatz is still going strong as an Johnny-on-the-spot instagram account about the Portland food scene.
  • Ten years ago the Beard Foundation released the names of 7 chefs and restaurants semifinalist for the 2014 awards program: Fore Street and Primo for Outstanding Restaurant, Rob Tod at Allagash for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional, Cara Stadler at Tao Yuan for Rising Star, and three chefs in the Best Chef:Northeast category: Brian Hill from Francine Bistro, Ravin Nakjaroen at Long Grain, and Masa Miyake from Miyake.
  • Cronuts (invented and trademarked by Dominique Ansel) were all the rage in 2014. South Portland bakery Little Bigs was selling out their weekly production in 30 minutes with customers driving from as far away as Brunswick to get their hands on the trendy baked good.
  • Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly served a pop-up Indonesian dinner at Nosh. The Pisha-Dufflys went on to help Big Tree Hospitality (then known as AMA) launch The Honey Paw in 2015 and then moved to Portland, Oregon where they have won acclaim for their restaurants Gado Gado, Oma’s Hideaway and The Houston Blacklight.
  • What was likely Portland’s first tortilla factory, Tortilleria Pachangalaunched on Industrial Way in 2014.
  • Word broke that Guy and Stella Hernandez, owners of Bar Lola, were working to launch of a new restaurant called Lolita.
  • The Press Herald hired Peggy Grodinsky to be the newspaper’s food editor. Grodinsky continues to lead the Food & Dining team at the Maine Trust for Local News to this day.
  • Chris and Paige Gould launched their new restaurant Central Provisions. It would go on to get a Best New Restaurant Beard Award nomination the following year.
  • An antique Maine law was unearthed that prohibited Maine establishments from listing the ABV of the alcoholic beverages on their menus. The legislature quickly passed an update to eliminate the outdated provision.
  • Five years ago the Beard Foundation released the names of 9 chefs and restaurants semifinalist for the 2019 awards program in the Best Chef: Northeast, Outstanding Restaurant, Outstanding Baker, Outstanding Wine Beer or Spirits Professional and Outstanding Service categories.
  • In 2019, brothers Sam and Rob Minervino bought Pizza Villa from the sons of the founder Michael Regios. Pizza Villa was founded in 1965.
  • Word broke about the development of a new cocktail bar and restaurant in Biddeford called Magnus on Water, and also the first report emerged about Perennial Cider Bar in Belfast.
  • Evan Atwell opened his most excellent knife shop Strata in one of the Black Box incubator spaces on Washington Ave.

Check back next month for a look back at the hot news from the March of 2009, 2014 and 2019.