Reviews: Taverna Khione, JP’s Bistro

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Taverne Khione in Brunswick, and

Nothing says “yiayia” quite like lamb chops ($28), which Provencher rubs with oregano, salt and pepper before char-grilling. He serves them medium-rare with extraordinarily citrusy, lemon-infused roasted potatoes, a lovely counterbalance to the low-pitched gaminess of the meat. Or whole grilled dorade, its cavity stuffed with fennel tops and slices of lemon, plated up next to a ruddy tumble of paprika-coated roasted potatoes ($28).

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed JP’s Bistro.

As I delved further into my plate, I was pleased with the combination of flavors. The mushrooms and tomatoes were dispersed in the perfect proportions, not overpowering the scallops and the crab was so good as a second seafood flavor. It was an item that had all the right ingredients to combine into an well put together dish. The potatoes and vegetables were sound sides.

Isuken Somali Bantu Food Truck

A group of Somali Bantu immigrants in Maine are launching a new food truck in Lewiston.

The Isuken (website, facebook) food truck is raising start-up funds through a Kickstarter campaign for a down payment on the truck and for other expenses.

Here’s some information on the menu:

The main products that Isuken food truck will offer are Sambusas, fried pastries filled with local meats and veggies. We will offer beef, chicken, fish, and veggie (vegan) options. We will also offer a gluten-free and vegan rice, corn, bean, and veggie dishes and grilled meats. For beverages, we will offer our Somali chai tea, a sweet, spicy, milky tea.

Under Construction: Eaux

Chef Evan Richardson has leased the space at 90 Exchange Street, formerly occupied by Crooners & Cocktails, where he plans to open a scaled-up restaurant version of his food cart Eaux (facebook, instagram).

Eaux will serve a menu of “New Orleans and Southern inspired food…in a bistro setting” Wednesday through Monday, 11:30 am to 1 am. Richardson plans to open by late May.

Here’s a look at the draft menu:

Eaux will join an ever growing cadre of restaurants that got their start as food carts and food trucks. The list includes Bite Into Maine, Mami, Small Axe/East Ender, Love Kupcakes/Baristas+Bites, Hella Good Tacos, Mainely Burgers, Urban Sugar and CN Shawarma/Baharat.

Under Construction: Lio

Lio (instagram, facebook), the new wine-focused restaurant from Cara and Cecile Stadler – owners of Tao Yuan and Bao Bao, has applied for a liquor license. As described in the application cover letter,

The concept of Lio is to offer a wide variety of wines by the glass, including many high end wines that are typically not available by the glass, with menu options specifically paired with the wines. The cuisine will be modern European offered on small plates, allowing diners to have food & wine typical of fine dining restaurants without the time or cost commitment of fine dining. The layout of the restaurant is designed around a serpentine bar configuration, that allows diners to cluster in groups around the curves, as well as a chefs table and private dining room. The space also has a deck and patio. It is an amazing location with a unique layout that we believe will be a unique and welcome addition to the already diverse restaurant scene in Portland.

Owen Price has joined the team as the chef for the restaurant. You can see some pictures of the Lio kitchen and early menu development on his instagram account.

The draft menu (page 87) includes smaller plates like Parsnip & Potato Latkes, pastas such as Bucatini with lump crab, chili flake, crab butter, breadcrumbs, olive oil, lemon, parsley and larger dishes such as Salt-crusted Whole Fish.

Here’s a look at the floor plan for Lio:

Under Construction: Crown Jewel

Crown Jewel (website, facebook, instagram) has applied for a liquor license. The 35-seat restaurant is under construction on Great Diamond Island. Owner Alexadra Wight was the organizer of the highly regarded Flanagans Table series that ran for several years in Buxton.

Crown Jewel will be open seasonally starting in 2018 through Columbus Day. Rocky Hunter has joined the team as the chef for the restaurant. Hunter was formerly the Vegetarian Chef de Cusine at David’s Opus Ten.

The draft menu (page 64) includes smaller items such as smoked mackerel rillet, and Fryburg potato & caviar, entrees such as pan seared cod and gnocchi verde.

For a list of other restaurants under development see our Under Construction List.

This Week’s Events: Chopped, MCD Cocktails, Farmhouse Funkadelic, Fabulous Femmes

TuesdayAustin Miller, the chef from Mami, will be competing in an upcoming episode of the Food TV Network show Chopped, and Central Provisions will be have 9 glass pours from the Selections de la Vina portfolio.

Thursday – there will be a wine tasting at Bow Street Beverage.

SaturdayMaine Craft Distilling is launching their new line of canned cocktails, Novare Res is holding Farmhouse Funkadelic – their annual Oxbow tap takeover, Liquid Riot is releasing the 2018 edition of their beer Blushing Star, and the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place.

Sunday – the Fabulous Femmes dinner is taking place at Chaval.

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.

Reviews: Black Cow, Tuscan Table, The Snug

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Tuscan Table,

And while executive chef Lee Skawinski’s menu does not yet match the sophistication and polish of the space, it is moving in the right direction. Nearly four months in, you’ll find plenty of adequate options as well as a few truly great dishes, such as a remarkably light pork Milanese; a coffee-infused, three-layer chocolate cake; and a savory appetizer of roasted mushrooms on creamy soft polenta. When Tuscan Table offers a glimpse of its potential, as it does through its toasted-rye spaetzle with pickled onions, dill, chervil and roasted fennel cream – an accompaniment to its wood-grilled salmon fillet – it’s easy to imagine that this boxy restaurant next to the Maine Mall could one day become one of the area’s best.

the Portland Phoenix and Peter Peter Portland Eater have reviewed Black Cow, and

Having served its first burger just a few weeks ago on March 19, Black Cow is clearly still in its tinkering phase. The good news is that after three visits, improvements seem to be exponential rather than incremental. Fries that were initially soggy and pale are now crisp, golden-hued and impossible to stop devouring. Burgers — juicy, yet bordering on being overcooked — are framed by pleasantly chewy buns and an umami-laden caramelized tomato mayo. The chicken sandwich feels painstakingly recreated in its square-shaped patty embodiment, highlighted by an airy deep-fried texture that’s off the charts.

the Press Herald has reviewed The Snug.

Along with Michelle’s absence, the shift in vibe may also be a result of who is hanging out at The Snug these days. A look around the room yields glimpses of familiar faces from the era of Mama’s Crowbar, which was up the street and is now the Munjoy Hill Tavern with an entirely different crowd and scene. In many ways, the vibe at The Snug today feels not too dissimilar from what “Mama” and her staff curated at the Crowbar: quiet, respectful, welcoming. It’s an interesting function of what can happen when a neighboring establishment with such identity serves its final drink.