French Press Eatery—>Tranchemontagne’s

According to a report in the American Journal, the French Press Eatery is temporarily closed while it changes from a breakfast and lunch coffee/sandwich shop to a BBQ and Cajun restaurant serving lunch and dinner. (via Westbrook Diarist)

On Tuesday, James Tranchemontagne admitted they have struggled to keep the French Press profitable, saying, “It never really clicked that it was breakfast and lunch.” He and his brother sat down to discuss its prospects recently and determined the best course was to transition to a lunch and dinner menu. He said the plan is different from last year’s attempted expansion.

“We probably should have done this in July. We are a young company and we learn a lot as we go,” he said.

James Tranchemontagne is the chef of the Frog & Turtle. He and his brother Andre are co-owners of both restaurants.

Portland Shellfish Co.

There were a flurry of news reports yesterday about the Portland Shellfish Company. According to a report in the Boston Globe,

Portland Shellfish Co. agreed to temporarily stop shipping its ready-to-eat lobster, shrimp and crab products to retailers in Massachusetts and other states, the Food and Drug Administration announced on Thursday. The company violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the FDA alleges, by shipping food across state lines that was “prepared, packed or held under insanitary conditions.”

MPBN interviewed owner Jeffrey Holden and learned more about what the company is doing to address the issue,

“In this plant we’ve put in new suspended ceiling, new roof, re-did the floors, repainted everything in the facility, we’ve put in new cleaning systems,” he says. The FDA, Holden says, is currently reviewing the paperwork associated with these upgrades, and will then send in inspectors to take a look.

With most of the company’s 150-strong workforce laid off until the problem is resolved, Holden says it’s essential to get FDA approval as soon as possible.

Pie & Wine Tastings at Aurora and Rosemont

In celebration of National Pie Day on the 23rd, Aurora Provisions and Rosemont Market are both experimenting with the combining of pie and wine at a pair of upcoming tastings.

  • Aurora Provisions is holding their Pie & Wine tasting tonight, 5 – 6:30 and will be serving Key Lime Pie, Pecan Pie, Blueberry Crumble Pie and Apple Pie.
  • Rosemont’s Brighton store is holding their Pie (and Quiche) & Wine tasting this Saturday, 3 -6 pm where the pie options are trending more in the pie-as-meal direction with options like Chicken Pot Pie and quiches mixed in with dessert pies.

Reviews: Public Market House, Clock Tower, Anthony’s

The Portland Phoenix has published a review of the 4 vendors on the second floor of the Public Market House: Kamasouptra, Peanut Butter & Jelly Time, Pie in the Sky, and Market House Coffee,

Their six to eight choices tend to veer toward the vegetarian and vegan. Some bacon did sneak into the white bean soup, infusing the broth with a smoky flavor, along with notes of celery and thyme. Kamasouptra’s blends many soups, like broccoli cheddar or roasted red pepper, but lets them maintain some bumpy texture. The bowl of red pepper had the perfect bit of spicy bite to it, followed on the palate by the pepper’s sweetness. A buttery, creamy clam chowder tasted more of vegetables than seafood.

the Press Herald has published a review of the Clock Tower Cafe which is located in City Hall,

I unfolded the wax paper and enjoyed my sandwich from the front seat of my car. Served on an English muffin, it included one egg cooked to medium with still just a touch of runny yellow yolk; a spicy, juicy sausage patty; and a just-so slice of melted white American cheese.

It was exactly what I craved. My only regret was not having enough change to buy two.

and the Examiner has published a review of Anthony’s.

The tomato sauce used in the Chicken Parm dinner was thick and slightly (but not too) sweet, and it generously covers the cutlets and the ziti with plenty left over for extracting every last drop from the plate with your garlic bread. Most likely you will have enough leftover for another meal; as with the sauce, the portions are very generous, and are more than reasonably priced.

Ohno Cafe

The Portland Daily Sun has published a profile of Ohno Cafe,

Ohno Cafe is a cozy neighborhood spot on Bracket Street in the West End offering breakfast, lunch and dinner options as well as a wide selections of wine and speciality beers.

But look below the surface and you’ll find that it’s also a high-yield production facility for the city’s premier pork-maple-Tabasco breakfast sandwich concoction known to it’s devoted following simply as “the number one”.

Mom’s Organic Munchies

Today’s Press Herald includes a profile of a Freeport entrepeneur who’s created a line of organic gluten free and dairy free energy bars,

“I started with the Goji-Pistachio bar,” Crush said. “Then I said, ‘I need something for people who need a little crunch.”‘

Thus, the Krunch Bar was born.

From there, Crush continued to expand the line, which now includes nine bars, three cookies and a package of mini-brownies.

Public Joycott

Mainebiz reports on a joycott—the opposite of a boycott—taking place at the Public Market House next month.

The joycott works by encouraging locals to patronize a single business on a single day, and in return, the business pledges to reinvest a percentage of that day’s profits into environmental upgrades. After approaching several markets, Sullivan says the Public Market pledged the highest amount—51%.

Burgers: Miss Portland, Becky’s, Hot Suppa, Harmon’s

Last year a group of Portland food bloggers and I collaborated on Thai-o-rama, an effort to eat at and review every single Thai restaurant in the city, from Siam Orchid in the One City Center food court through to the ever popular Boda in Longfellow Square. We had so much fun in 2010 that we’re continuing the project into 2011.

We’re starting off the new year with that emblem of American fast food, the hamburger, and for round 1 the group focused in on the burgers to be found at diners and sandwich shops in and around Portland. (We’ll go for the gourmet burgers, pub burgers, beef alternative burgers, etc in later months.)

You can learn as much from where our band of bloggers went (or tried to) for the burgers as from the reviews themselves. The former gives a clear indication of what eateries they thought would have a good burger and the later letting you know the accuracy of their aim.

Appetite Portland initially tried to go to Marcy’s (closed for Winter break) and ended up at the Miss Portland Diner. Soooo . . You Really Like Cats was shut out at Marcy’s and Hot Suppa but landed at Becky’s. The Blueberry Files took a direct path to Becky’s. Where is Jenner’s Mind couldn’t make it to Kathy & Dave’s or Steve & Renee’s and opted for Hot Suppa.  The Miss Portland Diner was From Away’s first choice and Edible Obsessions left town entirely to visit Harmon’s Lunch in Falmouth.

Clearly from the reviews below some choices ended up being (a lot) better than others.

Appetite PortlandMiss Portland Diner

Go to Miss Portland – get that haddock reuben, the chicken pie, a hot turkey dinner – or whatever is on special. If you need a hunk of beef, I can highly recommend the meatloaf. Just don’t bother with the burgers… read the full review

Edible ObsessionsHarmon’s Lunch

I’ve only ordered a burger one way from them: Loaded. Diced, perfectly caramelized onions, mystery red relish, mustard, meat and plain hamburger bun. Simple enough and insanely inexpensive to boot. But, let’s dote a little more on the burger, shall we? All of the components make this easily one of the best balanced burgers I’ve had because Sweet+Savory+Acidic=Satisfying. You would think that the burger, a quite respectable patty–cooked medium–all on it’s own, would be lost somewhere under all of the toppings, but it’s notread the full review

From AwayMiss Portland Diner

The Miss Portland Diner deserves a visit. The antique dining car has been wonderfully preserved, the service is fast and friendly, and there are menu options that I thought existed on Maine menus only in my memory (Ham salad on rye? Liver and onions? Pot roast dinner?). Jillian’s patty melt was delicious, and a perfect place for anyone who hasn’t stepped outside of their normal hamburger configuration to get on the train to patty melt town. You’ll have a hard time finding a better version of this classic diner sandwich. The burger, unfortunately, with its sad, parched appearance and dusty, grainy grind, doesn’t show a lot of thoughtfulness or appreciation of the genre, and isn’t going to make anyone a fan of the placeread the full review

Soooo . . You Really Like Cats, Don’t YouBecky’s

But even through the seemingly endless rambling about how the soft bun couldn’t handle the 3 inches of ingredients in between, I was still happy with this burger. Certainly not wowed by any stretch of the imagination, but it still quite satisfied. A traditional, American-cheesed, 1/3-pounder hamburger with all the fixings you’d see at any barbecue. It’ll be interesting to see what I think of it 11 burgers down the line (assuming that I make it that far!). The $6.75 (plus tax and tip) sticker price makes me wince a little bit because it was so much on the traditional side, but by the time I left the diner, I was feeling fat and sassy. That’ll do for nowread the full review

The Blueberry FilesBecky’s

While I have ranted against the hype surrounding Becky’s brunch, I was impressed by their lunch effort. This place didn’t make my go-to burger spot, but with the good prices and the great club sandwich, I’d recommend it for a cheap, classic lunchread the full review

Where is Jenner’s MindHot Suppa!

simply put, the burger tasted great. this is not a fancy or gourmet burger, in fact its made with american cheese. but if you are looking for a really tasty burger, you are not gonna go wrong with this burger. all you got to do is find someone to split the burger and the cubano with you and you got yourself a fantastic dateread the full review

Is there a diner or sandwich shop in Portland who’s burger you think is especially stellar? If so, post a comment and tell us where to find it and what you like about it.

This Week’s Events: Beer & Cheese, Wine & Pie, Bob Smith

Wednesday — there will be a wine tasting at Old Portland Wine Merchants, Havana South is holding their monthly 10 wines for $10 wine event, the January Full Moon Cask Beer Night is being held at Sebago Brewing and Allagash is pouring Hugh Malone and raising money for MOFGA at Local Sprouts.

ThursdayThe Great Lost Bear will be showcasing Long Trail Brewing.

Saturday — Jasper Hill, Allagash, Maine Beer Co. and Urban Farm Fermentory will be at the 5th Annual Vignola Beer and Cheese Tasting, Rosemont is holding a wine and pie tasting, the Winter Farmers Market is taking place, and Scarborough Wine Outlet is holding a wine tasting.

Bob Smith Memorial — friend and colleagues of Chef Bob Smith will be gathering on January 30th at The Coastal House in Wells to commemorate his life and passing. Bob died unexpectedly from a heart condition in December.

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.

Chef Bob Smith Memorial Fund

The family, friends and colleagues of Chef Bob Smith have set-up the Chef Bob Smith Fund for Education in Farming and the Culinary Arts to “honor the memory of his skill as a cook, his generosity of spirit, and his contribution to Portland’s food community.”

Organizers have announced that the money will be used to provide grants to individuals who want to further their knowledge of food and farming, and the grants will be “awarded at the discretion of Cultivating Community’s Board of Directors.”

Here are the details on making a donation:

Send a check made out to ‘Cultivating Community’ to the address below, and be sure to indicate “Chef Bob Fund” in the memo line. You can also donate directly via the Cultivating Community website,, and click “Donate Now”, and write “Chef Bob Fund” in the in honor of section.

For more information, please contact Craig Lapine at 207-761-GROW.

Cultivating Community
P.O. Box 3792
Portland, Maine 04104-3792