Weather’s Impact on Restaurants (Updated)

Today’s Press Herald reports on the negative impact the large number of snow storms are having on Portland restaurants.

Most of all, downtown restaurant owners dread parking bans. The owners are particularly upset that the city declared a 36-hour parking ban last weekend for a storm that dropped 2.3 inches of snow. The ban began at 10 a.m. Saturday – Valentine’s Day – prompting some restaurant managers to ask city officials to keep the tow trucks away until closing time. The city honored the requests.

The city in practice doesn’t begin towing cars downtown until 1 a.m., but many people don’t know that, so business suffers.

Update: The Forecaster and WMTW have also posted reports on the snow’s impact on restaurant sales.

James Beard Award Semi-Finalists

The list of semi-final nominees for the 2015 James Beard Foundation awards were released today. The 10 Maine-based semi-finalists are:

  • Best New Restaurant – Central Provisions
  • Best Chef: Northeast – Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, Eventide Oyster Company; Masa Miyake, Miyake; Ravin Nakjaroen, Long Grain and Brian Hill, Francine Bistro
  • Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional – Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Co.
  • Outstanding Baker – Alison Pray, Standard Baking
  • Outstanding Bar Program – Portland Hunt + Alpine Club
  • Outstanding Restaurant – Fore Street
  • Rising Star of the Year – Cara Stadler, Tao Yuan

JBF_AWARDS_MEDALLION-BLOGThe names released today are on the so-called ‘long list’. The final list of nominees (the ‘short list’) will be out in March 24th and the awards ceremony will take place May 4th. In a change of pace, the awards ceremony will take place in Chicago this year instead of NYC—a way for the Foundation to emphasize the national nature of the awards and of its mission.

Food & Wine: The Lost Kitchen

lost-kitchenThe March issue of Food & Wine includes an article about chef Erin French and her restaurant The Lost Kitchen(facebook, instagram) in Freedom, Maine. It also includes recipes for several of chef Erin French’s dishes.

The restaurant has only been open since last July, but news of it has spread, and customers now come from many miles away. Chef Erin French, who is entirely self-taught, creates unfussy, astonishingly delicious food using as few ingredients as possible in combinations that are both exciting and viscerally satisfying…

The article isn’t online yet but you can pick-up a copy of the March issue at your local newsstand.

This Week’s Events: JBF Awards, Salmon/Lamb Tastings, Natural Wine Walk, Viva Lebowski

2015-02-11_21-36-56Tuesday — the local foods networking breakfast is taking place at Local Sprouts.

Wednesday — the semifinalist nominees for this year’s James Beard Foundation awards will be released.

FridayBrowne Trading will be at Rising Tide for a beer and salmon tasting, and North Star Sheep Farm will be at The Farm Stand for a lamb and wine tasting.

Saturday — Ned Swain is leading a Wine Wise natural wine walk, it’s the grand opening of Maine Craft Distilling’s Freeport tasting room, Viva Lebowski is taking place at Easy Day, and the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place.

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.

Under Construction: Figgy’s

Portland Magazine has published an interview with Natalie DiBenedetto about Figgy’s(facebook, website), the takeout restaurant she has under construction on Walker Street, and that journey that brought her to Portland.

By May she plans to be cooking at Figgy’s, her forthcoming take-out restaurant, now under construction in back of Yordprom’s building, which she owns. Figgy’s will offer skillet-fried chicken and classic sides like mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, plus seasonal healthy vegetable choices and a daily dinner salad. Her other signature item will be Korean fried chicken wings.

This month’s issue of the magazine also includes a review of The Merry Table.

Neptune: Where to Eat Today

Many restaurants and other food shops have closed due to the storm, but not all. Here’s a growing list of the eateries that plan to be open today, keeping us all well fed despite the white stuff:

  • Union Bagel, where I picked my breakfast of a double toasted everything bagel with butter.
  • Arcadia is open until 10 pm, $5 drafts.
  • Becky’s Diner is open.
  • Bier Cellar is open noon – 6.
  • Black Cat Coffee opened at 7:30 this morning.
  • Brian Boru is open.
  • Bucks Naked BBQ is open all day.
  • Central Provisions is now open.
  • CBD will be opening their shops on Diamond and Congress Streets at 10:30.
  • DiMillo’s will be opening their lounge and bar starting at 11.
  • Dobra will open at noon.
  • Eventide plans to open at 11am for brunch.
  • Five Fifty-Five is open for both brunch and dinner.
  • Frog & Turtle will be open for brunch.
  • Gelato Fiasco opens at 3pm.
  • Great Lost Bear is open.
  • Hilltop Coffee is opening at 10 this morning.
  • Hunt and Alpine will be opening at 1pm serving their happy hour menu.
  • Little Bigs is open.
  • LFK is open today.
  • Local 188 is open.
  • Lolita is open.
  • Maine & Loire reconsidered and is open today until 6pm.
  • Marcy’s is open.
  • MJ’s will be open 11-2.
  • Old Port Wine will open at 10.
  • Omi’s Coffee is open.
  • Pai Men is holding an all day happy hour.
  • Petite Jacqueline is open for both brunch and dinner.
  • Piccolo will be open for dinner.
  • Rosemont is open.
  • Salvage BBQ opened at noon.
  • Sonny’s is having a 15% off white sale off all food today.
  • Speckled Axe plans to be open 10 – 2 today.
  • Timber will open for dinner.
  • Zapoteca will be open for dinner.

I’ll be updating this list throughout the day as more info comes in. Email me at or post a comment if there’s someplace I missed.

Review of Miyake

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Miyake, granting the Fore Street restaurant 4½ stars.

It may be pricey, but Miyake is the place to indulge in a range of superb Japanese dishes. Try the melt-in-your-mouth braised pork belly or the crunchy black seaweed called hijiki that’s served atop cubes of tofu and slices of avocado. If you love sashimi, you’ll find the quality and freshness here unparalleled; order a small platter with eight pieces for dinner or go for broke and ask chef Masa Miyake to prepare a special tasting menu. And don’t overlook the simplest offerings from the kitchen: The house salad and the spicy seaweed salad are among the tastiest in town.

Reviews: The Cheese Iron & Howie’s

The Press Herald has published a bar review of Howie’s,

Howie’s Pub has been around for 12 years and hosts mostly regulars because of its somewhat hidden location. However, it’s a friendly, lively bar, especially on Tuesday nights, and the beer and food selection is decent. Newcomers welcome.

and a review of The Cheese Iron.

The Va Benne Italiano ($7.99) is comprised of Mortadello, provolone, an assortment of salamis, house-made relish and house-made pesto served on a Standard Baking Company baguette. After I ordered it, the woman who was waiting on me asked a glorious question: Would I liked it heated? Would I ever! A few minutes on the press brought my sandwich into sandwich hall of fame territory.