Down East Review of Hugo’s

Down East has reviewed Hugo’s.

The quail, crusted with flakes of dried bonito, sits beside a deviled quail egg and dollops of kimchi puree. That dish followed the lightly pickled local mackerel served with bits of matsutake-mushroom-flavored ice. It can all seem a bit precious, but a sense of whimsy in each dish deflates any of the stuffiness attributed with fine dining. An everything bialy with butter is served between courses of poussin (young chicken) and chawanmushi (Japanese egg custard). For dessert, a doughnut hole and bits of popcorn balance apple foam and caramel mousse…

SoMe Brewing, Reviews of Mathew’s & The Bridgeway

Today’s Press Herald includes a bar review of Mathew’s,

Mathew’s Pub, advertised as “the oldest pub in Portland,” is as gritty as they come, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Pay nearly nothing for beer and even less for a pool table, and Mathew’s is not just the oldest bar in Portland but perhaps the cheapest. If it’s your first time venturing into Mathew’s, bring a friend or two.

a review of The Bridgeway,

The Brideway isn’t hip, it doesn’t offer any kind of funky fusion fare, and some could argue it could use some updating. But you know what? It’s also a respectable spot that is honest about what is has to offer. This wasn’t lost on me or my lunch date, and for that reason I’m glad it’s there and I am glad that it surely has a legion of longtime diners who keep the historic place in business.

and an article about SoMe Brewing.

Crystal Persuasion is in imperial pale ale made with 100 percent Crystal hops. Rowland said the recipe came about because his hop supplier offered him the hops, and he created first a regular pale ale – which will come on the menu at some point – and then the imperial version, which is 8 percent ABV. This was a nicely malty beer, with just enough hops bite to make it interesting.

5-star Easy-Bake Oven Pastry Chefs

For today’s edition of the Press Herald, columnist Meredith Goad handed out Easy-Bake Ovens to the pastry chefs at Hugo’s, Five Fifty-Five and Fore Street. Chefs Kim Rodgers, Addie Davis and Brant Dadaleares were challenged to create a great dessert using the purple toy from Hasbro instead of their usual professional grade equipment.

“That’s perfect for custard,” Dadaleares said. So the chef made six custards, topped them with some turbinado sugar and torched them. (It took 15 to 20 minutes for each custard to bake.) He chose the three best, and layered them with vanilla rice pudding, caramelized Rice Krispies, candied pecans, port-poached pears and cherries. He topped his Easy-Bake napoleon with sweetened whipped cream.

Dadaleares also made a persimmon pudding with the oven. It worked, he said, “but I liked the flavor combinations of this (the napoleon) a little bit more.”

Today’s Food & Wine section also includes a column by local wine expert Joe Appel on Champagne and sparkling wine.

If you want to drink a truly expressive nonvintage Champagne, one to make your eyes widen and your heart race, you need to work for it. And it will cost you (though not much more than generic big-house Champagne will). Some of the best available in Maine are Gimmonet, Egly-Ouriet, Aubry, Beaudoin, Vilmart & Cie, and Maillart.

Fly Points & Maine Shrimp

MPBN has aired an interview with Eric Horne and Valy Steverlynk about their Flying Points oyster farm in Freeport.

Eric Horne and his wife, Valy Steverlynk (above), fire up their skiff and motor down the Royal River away from the Yarmouth marina and out into Casco Bay. It’s a cold December morning and theirs is the only boat on the water.

They’re on their way to check an oyster bed they’ve been leasing for more than 10 years. After a bone-chilling five-minute trip, they arrive at the site, where they hope to collect about 500 oysters.

Working Waterfront has published a report that explores the possible causes of the collapse of the Maine shrimp fishery.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission did not close this fishery simply because the population was low, but more because we don’t seem to have enough baby shrimp to build a future upon. It was determined by managers that to give this stock the best chance for recovery we needed to leave all the shrimp now in the water in the hope that they spawn and produce abundant offspring.

Under Construction: Fishin’ Ships Meets Goal

The Fishin’ Ships food truck has successfully met their $12,000 Kickstarter fundraising goal with 20 days left to spare. Owners Sam Gorelick and Arvid Brown plan to launch Fishin’ Ships (facebook, twitter) this April.

A second food truck, Anapurna’s Thali is also running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their 2014 food truck project.

Vinland Opening Friday

The Bangor Daily News has published an article about Vinland, which is slated to open this Friday.

When David Levi set out to open his first restaurant, Vinland in Congress Square, he had the region’s native people — members of the Penobscot Indian Nation — in mind. What would the Penobscot eat? Mussels flavored with apple cider vinegar? Smoked duck? Poached cod in herbal broth?

Such delicacies grace the menu at his 39-seat bistro, slated to open Friday, Dec. 27. Levi, a New York City culinary artist with a master’s degree in poetry, is a different breed of restaurateur.

According to Vinland’s facebook page, you can make reservations for Friday’s soft opening by emailing

Under Construction: Scarborough El Rayo

Maine a la Carte has published an update on the El Rayo’s plans to open a new restaurant in Scarborough.

Inside, the restaurant will have an open kitchen with 8 “theater” seats, a 10-stool bar and a mix of booths and other tables seating 84.

[El Rayo manager Norine] Kotts said the new El Rayo Tacqueria y Cantina is expected to open next summer.

For more information on Portland area restaurants under development see the PFM Under Construction List.

Portland on Imbibe Top 75 List

Portland is on the list of the 75 “people, places and flavors that will shape the way you drink in 2014” assembled by Imbibe magazine’s for their January issue. Here’s an abridged excerpt of what they had to say about Portland,

Long a favorite vacation destination for East Coasters, Portland’s forward-thinking food scene was an early adopter of the farm-to-table (and sea-to-table) ethos…New brewers keep popping up, from powerhouses like Rising Tide in East Bayside to the ultra-cool Bunker Brewing…Excellent coffees are not hard to come by, but some of the most interesting can be found at Speckled Ax…[and] Tandem Coffee offers all the trappings, including pour-over cups prepared by friendly baristas. Setting a new standard for Portland cocktails is the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, opened in September by Andrew Volk…True to its name, the bar has a distinct Nordic vibe defined by clean lines and a sparse coziness, and the menu is an ode to the beauty of cocktails, old and new.

The new issue of Imbibe should be appearing on newsstands in early January; the article is not yet online.

This Week’s Events: Christmas, Sparkling Wine Primer, New Year’s Eve List

WednesdayMerry Christmas! A short list of Portland area restaurants are open on Christmas: C2 at the Westin, Empire Chinese Kitchen, Hi Bombay, Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, Novare Res (opens at 6pm), Sable Oaks Marriott in South Portland, the Sea Glass Restaurant in Cape Elizabeth, Twenty Milk Street, and Zen Chinese Bistro. (please email me at or post a comment below if I’m missing anyone.)

Thursday — Wine Wise is holding the 4th Annual Sparkling Wines & Champagnes Primer.

Saturday — Wine Wise is leading a Cabernet wine walk in the Old Port, and the Winter Farmers Market is taking place at the Urban Farm Fermenntory on Anderson Street.

New Year’s Eve List
Restaurants are beginning to announce their plans for New Year’s Eve. Here’s a list of ones I have details for so far. I’ll be expanding the list as more information becomes public. (Restaurant owners: please send details to or post a comment below.)

  • Back Bay Grill, 4-course dinner for $96 per person
  • BiBo’s Madd Apple Cafe, 3-course dinner, $50 per person
  • Boone’s is throwing a party with a band, cocktail luges, ice sculptures and balloon drop. 5-course prixe fixe dinner is $85 per person with optional pairings available. More info.
  • David’s Opus Ten, 9-course dinner with wine pairings is $150 per person.
  • East Ender, 4-course dinner for $65 per person.
  • El Rayo, 4-course dinner for $38 per person.
  • Empire Chinese Kitchen, serving the standard menu.
  • Eventide, will be throwing a party, a $25 ticket will get you “$1 oysters and a steady supply of your favorite menu items for snacking (lobster rolls and oyster buns included)”
  • Five Fifty-Five, 5-course dinner in the restaurant for $100 per person
  • Gather, serving a special NYE’s menu
  • Gingko Blue will be open serving their new New Orleans-inspired menu.
  • Grace will be serving their regular dinner menu. A cover charge of $10 (which funds the Good Shepherd Food Bank) will get you into the late night party which comes with complementary champagne toast at midnight.
  • Hugo’s, 5-course dinner, $120 with optional wine pairings for $75
  • Hunt & Alpine Club, will be serving “special food and cocktail menus. Included will be options for multiple punches, bottled cocktails and Champagne”. They’ll be taking reservation up to 10pm and staying open until 2am.
  • Miyake, will be serving a special 5-course omakase in addition to their usual menu
  • Oscar’s New American, 4-course dinner for $75 per person with optional wine pairings for $45
  • Outliers Eatery, 7-course dinner
  • Pai Men Miyake will be “tapping a couple of special kegs and have an extensive specials selection in addition to the regular menu”
  • Petite Jacqueline, 3-course dinner for $65 per person, there are also optional wine and champagne pairings
  • Piccolo, 5-course dinner with a glass of sparkling wine, $85 per person
  • Schulte & Herr, will be open 5-9pm
  • Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea, 4-course menu, $85 per person with optional wine pairing for $30
  • Spread, will be open, details still TBD
  • The Frog & Turtle, 2 seatings (4:30-7:30, 8-12:30) at $40 and $65 per person
  • The Good Table, will be serving a special New Year’s Eve menu
  • The Salt Exchange, 4-course dinner, $65 per person
  • Twenty Milk Street
  • Vignola will be serving a speecial NYE menu, $55 per person
  • Vinland, 5-course tasting menu with a wild fermented sparkling wine for $75, optional wine pairing are available for $25. Email for reservations.
  • Walter’s will be open serving their regular menu.
  • Zackery’s, room and dinner package starting at $119 plus tax
  • Zapoteca, 5-course preview of dinner the chef will serve at the James Beard House, $50 per person with optional wine/tequila pairings for $25.

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.