Under Construction: Chris Gould’s Restaurant

Chef Chris Gould is making progress on the new Portland restaurant he has under development and is aiming for a July 1 opening day. Gould tells me he’s very close to signing a deal for a location in the Old Port. In the meantime he’s spending time lining up contractors, suppliers and key staff so the work of building and fitting out the restaurant can get off to a fast start once the space is secured.

Gould plans on serving a menu of international small plates that will in part draw on his interest in Spanish cuisine. 44 North will be creating a custom blend for the coffee service. The name for the restaurant is still under wraps. Might & Main, the folks who developed the branding for Eventide, have been hired to handle marketing for the restaurant.

Gould is currently working at Eventide with his friend and former colleague chef Andrew Taylor. He moved to Portland last year from Boston where he worked for Ken Orringer’s restaurants Uni and Coppa.

He was the winner of the 2012 Shucks Maine Lobster Chef World Series with a dish of “butter-poached lobster with ragout of sauteed knuckles, roasted fingerling potatoes, cinnamon-roasted carrots, roasted corn and sweet miso puree, and piquillo pepper”.

This Week’s Events: Sonnet, Chopped, Share Our Strength, Chinese Laundry, Pocket Brunch, Figa, Valentine’s Day

Monday —chef Damian Sansonetti is holding a Sonnet pop-up dinner.

Tuesday —chef Rob Evans is appearing on Food Network for an episode of Chopped Champions. El Rayo is kicking off their language exchange program; every Tuesday 3-4 pm El Rayo will host this event to connect English and Spanish native speakers. Participants will have a chance to learn from each other while enjoying half-priced drinks from the bar.

Thursday — the Great Lost Bear is showcasing Bray’s Brewpub.

Friday —in a continuation of their monthly international dinner series Eve’s is featuring Aphrodisiacs from Italy and Greece.

SaturdayRosemont is holding a wine tasting, and the Winter Farmers Market is taking place.

Sunday — chefs Sam Hayward, Rob Evans and Chad Conley will be cooking at Flatbread to raise money for Share Our Strength, The Chinese Laundry will be serving up tea and dumplings at Speckled Ax, the (sold out) February edition of Pocket Brunch is taking place,  Petite Jacqueline is screening Sabrina, Two Fat Cats is teaching a baking class.

Figa — starting this week Figa is reopening, by reservation only, on Fridays and Saturdays.

Valentine’s Day — restaurants have started posting their plans for Valentine’s Day. The holiday falls on a Thursday this year and nearly every restaurant will be open. Here are the one’s planning Valentine’s Day menus or events:

  • Anthony’s, 5-course dinner and Rat Pack Valentine’s Day show, $39.95
  • Bar Lola, 5-course prix fixe, $55 per person.
  • Five Fifty-Five, 5-course tasting menu, $88 per person with optional wine pairing for $35 or $50.
  • Hugo’s, 7-course dinner, $80 per person with optional wine pairing at $55.
  • Nosh is celebrating a Love Affair with Bacon.
  • Novare Res is collaborating with Sweet Marguerite’s to serves a set of beer and chocolate pairings.
  • Petite Jacqueline, 3-course dinner, $55 per person with optional menu supplements, wine pairing and champagne flights.
  • Roost and Modern Vegan are collaborating to offer 5-course series of chocolate and wine pairings, $25 per couple.
  • The Holy Donut is making a strawberry glazed donut drizzled with 60% dark chocolate.
  • The Salt Exchange, 6-course Midnight in Paris menu, $65 per person.
  • Twenty Milk Street, 3-course menu.
  • Zapoteca, 4-course dinner “Celebrating the Love of Asian Influenced Mexican Cuisine”, $50 per person.
  • Maine Restaurant Week has posted their recommendations for Valentine’s Day parsed by relationship status.

Modern Vegan Cooking School — throughout February and March, Modern Vegan is teaching a series a cooking classes on winter soups, cooking for weight loss, cooking with greens, vegan entertaining and more.

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.

Review of Sonny’s

What’s the Soup has published a review of Sonny’s.

We were brought the two soups of the night, a vegetarian Harira, a Moroccan style chickpea stew and…The chickpea stew was outstanding! It had layer upon layer of flavor. The base of the soup is onions, tomatoes, and garlic brightened up with golden raisins, apricots, sweet potato, red lentils, and coconut milk. It gets spiced with cumin, paprika, and coriander and cardamom that lends a perfume essence to the stew.

Reviews of The Front Room, Sweet Marguerites and Vignola/Cinque Terre

Eat Maine has published a review of The Front Room.

I came looking for a comforting meal, and the Front Room delivered. The service adds to the experience, and I leave happy and full. Now I know where to go for French onion soup and other cold weather comfort food. The Front Room provides friendly, genuine service and a warm, hearty meal. Surprisingly, I’m looking forward to a few more winter storms.

Map & Menu has published a review of Sweet Marguerites.

I decided to make a morning out of it by bringing along a couple of magazines to read while sipping my cup of hot chocolate. Having tried the salted caramel last time, I decided to go with the traditional chocolate. Both variations are deliciously creamy & rich enough that you want to slowly savor your cup. I’m honestly not sure of a better pick-me-up for a dreary winter day!

The Golden Dish has published a review of Vignola/Cinque Terre.

What more can I say other than Vignola Cinque Terre remains a superb dining venue in Portland, a tour de force that deserves, without reservation, all the accolades that one can muster.

Maine Cocktail Tours

Maine Today has published a profile of Maine Cocktail Tours.

Slated for its inaugural tour on May 1, Maine Cocktail Tours will lead small groups for thirsty and curious cocktail fans through the streets of Portland. The tour will begin at City Hall, where that Father of Prohibition Neil Dow once kept a stockpile of rum, much to the dismay of local citizens. (Okay, they were probably more than a little dismayed. Rum Riot, anyone?)