Best of 2018

In lieu of his weekly review, Maine Sunday Telegram restaurant critic Andrew Ross has posted a round-up of his  favorite restaurants and food of 2018.

So reflecting on my favorites this year has been a different exercise than it was in the past. I’ve spent the back half of 2018 thinking and talking with people about places I adore and why I love them, recently departed restaurants I’ll miss dearly and dishes I can’t wait to try again.

Austin Street Bayside Opens Saturday

The new East Bayside location of Austin Street Brewery is scheduled to open tomorrow, Saturday December 22nd, noon – 9pm. The new building is located next to Rising Tide at 115 Fox Street. They plan to have 7 Austin Street beers on tap and 3 of their canned beers on sale.

Their new location is nearly 9,000 sq ft in size overall with a 2,000 sq ft larger tasting room and  outdoor area. They’ll be retaining their current brewery on 1 Industrial Way in addition to this new space.

Beginning in January, Austin Street plans to have a regular rotation of seven food trucks serving on Fox Street. In addition, Austin Street is planning to register for a lounge license so they can serve wine, cider, spirits and other brewery’s beers available as well.


Phoenix Best Bites

Portland Phoenix restaurant critic Erik Neilson has looked back over 2018 and assembled an article on his Best Bites of the past year.

The close of another year always brings along with it a period of reflection. As important as it is to pause and meditate on the more serious events of 2018 — both personal and societal — a little focus on the light and joyous never hurts to add balance and perspective to life as a whole. For me, that means taking a look back at some of the eats that brought me happiness this year, even in the darkest of moments.

Portland Cocktail Culture

The Boston Globe has published an article on Portland’s Emerging Craft Cocktail Culture which it declares “is as refreshing as its food scene”.

In the last decade, plenty of ink’s been spilled about the seemingly never-ending waves of gutsy new restaurants in Portland, Maine. And who can even count how many maps of the city’s terrific breweries have been shared? But somehow, the emerging craft cocktail scene here has gone almost unrecognized — and that may be simply because it’s populated with spots that are quietly cool and creative like Meiklejohn’s, rather than louder, more conspicuous bacchanals.

The article highlights: The Bearded Lady, Blyth and Burrows, Hunt & Alpine, Vena’s Fizz House, Woodford F&B, East Ender and The Honey Paw.

Bloomberg Best Dishes: Mr. Tuna

Kate Krader from Bloomberg included the Chutoro Hand Roll from Mr. Tuna in her list of the Best Restaurant Dishes of 2018.

Forget lobster and oysters. The local bluefin tuna belly that Jordan Rubin gets in late summer and the fall is the seafood standout in Portland, Maine. In mid-2017, Rubin bought a hot dog cart and started making hand rolls and sushi burritos on the downtown streets. His operation quickly grew into a mini food truck empire that now includes a space in the Portland Public Market. The hand roll’s nori wrapper is notably crisp because Rubin keeps it warmed in an electric toaster before wrapping it around tangy rice and fatty, melt-in-your-mouth chopped fish mixed with sea salt, scallions, and potent fresh wasabi sauce.

Under Construction: Quiero Cafe

Owners of Quiero Cafe (website, facebook, instagram) in Saco have announced plans to open a second location in Portland this Spring. Quiero will be located in Bramhall Square at 3 Deering Ave in the space most recently occupied by Trattoria Fanny.

Quiero serves a menu of “Latin American cuisine” featuring “Empanadas, Burritos, and Tamales. We also serve several kinds of coffee, smoothies, and Tropical juices”.

Trading Places

Eighteen Twenty Wines and Blue Lobster Lobster Wine Co. will be trading the spaces they currently occupy at 219 Anderson Street. Blue Lobster has shared this comment on the move on instagram,

This move to a larger space will allow us more room to operate as a winery while simultaneously having the tasting room open — meaning more tasting room hours for you! Our plan is to close down our current space at the end of this year. We’ll be making some modest improvements to the new space and hopefully opening the doors around the beginning of March. We are very excited about the move!

This Week’s Events: Hush Hush, Middle East Pop-Up Bakery, NYE List

TuesdayLittle Giant Market is kicking-off their monthly late night pop-up bar, Hush Hush.

Thursday – Falafel Mafia is holding a Middle Eastern Pop-up Bakery at Fork Food Lab, and The Great Lost Bear is holding their annual 12 Beers of Christmas event.

Friday – there will be a wine tasting at the West End location of the Other Side Delicatessen (4:30 – 6:30).

Saturday – the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place.

New Year’s Eve – restaurants have begun announcing their NYE dinner options:

  • Blue Spoon – 4-course dinner with champagne toast, optionan wine pairing $60 per person.
  • Central Provisions – 7-course dinner with pairings, $150 per person. Two seatings at 6 pm and 10 pm.
  • Evo – 6-course dinner, $100 per person with optional $40 wine pairings.
  • Falmouth Country Club – chef Nick Verdisco is serving a New Year’s Eve dinner, $80 per person.
  • Five Fifty-Five – 4-course dinner for $90 per person, 7-course for $125 per person.
  • Grace – 4-course dinner with bubbles for $85 per person.
  • Isa – 3-course dinner for $65 per person.
  • Lolita – 6-course dinner for $110 per person (tax and tip included).
  • North 43 Bistro – 4-course dinner.
  • Petite Jacqueline –  3-course dinner for $55 per person, 5-course dinner for $75 per person.
  • Piccolo – 5-course dinner for $85 per person.
  • Sur Lie – serving both their standard and a special NYE menu.
  • Terlingua – 5-course dinner and champagne toast for $85 per person.
  • The Honey Paw – is serving a dim sum menu all night.
  • Tiqa – 3-course dinner with champagne for $55 per person with seatings at 5, 7, and 9:30.
  • Vinland – 5-course dinner for $95 with optional pairings for $55; two seatings at 6 and 8:30.

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.