Mimi Weissenborn at Sur Lie

Mimi Weissenborn (instagram) has joined the Sur Lie team as their new executive chef. According to the press release,

A native Maryland crab, Shef studied at L’Academie de Cuisine and promptly decided to pursue a culinary career in New York City as a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Working her way up the line she finally chose to settle with Vinateria, the beloved Spanish and Italian influenced Harlem eatery, as their Creative Director and later on Executive Chef. There she received a Michelin recommendation, participated in multiple chef collaborations such as New York City Food & Wine Festival, Harlem Eat Up and a gamut of James Beard Foundation dinners headlining and selling out one of her very own; most recently collaborating on an International Women’s Day Dinner. Energized by her new found sense of community she was inspired to honor her own by hosting a female collaboration dinner series highlighting a local cast of Harlem hitters!

With the addition of Weissenborn to the Sur Lie team, the restaurant has led by an all-female management team.

Ada’s Portland Closing

Ada’s has announced they’re closing their Portland location.

Portland community and friends: thank you for all of your support and patronage of Ada’s Portland. Going forward, our Congress Street location will be closed as we consolidate our handmade pasta production and activities in the Midcoast with our sister establishments @adas.kitchen & @mainstreetmarkets.

Special thanks to our staff who helped create something special. We will continue to serve retail and wholesale customers out of our Rockland location, with new and exciting things planned for 2022. Stay tuned, be well, and have a safe and healthy new year. 💛

Anyone interested in leasing the space at 642 Congress St should email hello@adaspasta.com.

Proof of Vaccination Petition (Updated)

The Press Herald reports that a petition is circulating among Portland restaurants asking the City Council to implement a proof of vaccination requirement.

[Kate] Klibansky’s request worked. The restaurant group Eventide, owned by Big Tree Hospitality, has now launched a petition drive with other restaurants asking the Portland City Council to consider a vaccine mandate for certain indoor spaces including, but not limited to, restaurants.

The City Council will be considering that policy at Monday’s meeting.

Currently, a limited number of Portland establishments have independently implemented a proof of vaccination policy.


Upcoming Events: Buzz Coffee, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, KitNA

Wednesday – the new Buzz Coffee shop is opening for business.

New Year’s Eve – Here’s a growing list of options for your New Year’s Eve celebrations–more will be added as restaurants announce their plans—send us a message if you see some place missing from the list.

  • Batson River – entertainment and “passed appetizers, food stations, late night snacks, and a sparkling toast at midnight”; $70 per person.
  • Blue Spoon – will be open; menu TBD.
  • Broken Arrow – 5-course dinner ($95 per person) at 6 pm, and 7-course dinner ($145 per person) at 9 pm, both with optional pairings.
  • Crispy Gai –fried chicken and caviar.
  • Dizzy Bird – has preorder takeout.
  • Evo Kitchen + Bar – 6-course dinner with optional wine pairings; $150 per person.
  • Free Street
  • Friends & Family – a Tour d’Alps tasting menu; $48 per person.
  • Gather – available on site or to go.
  • Gross Confection Bar – will be open on New Year’s Eve.
  • Isa Bistro – 3-course tasting menu; $75 per person.
  • Judy Gibson – a 6-course tasting menu plus snacks; $100 per person with optional beverage pairing for $45 per person.
  • Knotted Apron – 4-course dinner with champagne toast; $79 per person.
  • Luna – entertainment, appetizers and sparkling wine toast; $100 per person.
  • Magnus on Water – extensive NYE champagne list
  • Mr. Tuna – a range of sushi options for 2 – 10 people.
  • Old Port Sea Grill – 5-course dinner; $65 per person.
  • Petite Jacqueline – 4-course dinner and champagne toast.
  • Roll Call at Austin Street
  • Roma – is offering a special menu.
  • Smalls – will be open serving “wine, beer and bubbles” starting at 5pm. They’re a new market/cafe located at 28 Brackett Street.
  • Top of the East
  • Verbena’s – 4-course takeout dinner; $52 per person.

New Year’s Day – a few restaurants have announced special brunch and brinner options.

  • Broken Arrow – serving Brinner, their “favorite brunch meets dinner items”
  • Crispy Gai – is serving New Year’s Day brunch.
  • Ghee – will be serving brunch, noon to 8 pm.
  • Little Tap House – is serving New Year’s Day brunch.
  • Other Side Diner – will be serving brunch 8 – 2 with  specials like roast duck hash and beef tenderloin and eggs.
  • The Pink Waffle – is teaming up with Fork Food Lab to offer take home waffle kits and a New Year’s Day brunch option.

January 2KitNA (instagram) will be releasing their first beer On Your Mark American Blonde at a variety of beer retail locations.

January 14 – The Good Food Foundation will be announcing the winners of the 2022 awards program; 10 Maine food producers are finalists this year, and Black Tie is kicking-off a spring cooking class series.

Buzz Coffee Opening on Wednesday

Buzz Coffee (website, instagram) will be launching their new coffee shop on Wednesday. Buzz is located at 19 Exchange Street in the underground space formerly occupied by Blake Orchard.

Buzz Coffee will be serving coffee brewed with beans from Little Wolf with an expanded menu that includes drip coffee, cold brew, teas and the full range of espresso-based drinks.

The cafe will be open 8 am to 2 pm.

Buzz launched this past May as a coffee cart. The coffee cart will be back on the streets this spring.

Maine Coast Fishermen’s Stew

The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (website, facebook, instagram, twitter) has launched Maine Coast Fishermen’s Stew which features sustainably harvested monkfish caught by local small-boat fishermen. The stew is produced in collaboration with the Hurricane Soup company in Greene, Maine.

Proceeds from the stew will help support MCFA’s Fishermen Feeding Mainers program which purchases fish directly from fishermen and donates it to schools, food banks and community groups.

The stew is currently available at Fork Food Lab and at Free Range Fish and Lobster in Portland. Check the MCFA website for an updated list of retail locations.

My Kitchen Their Table: Jake and Raquel Stevens

Welcome to the December edition of My Kitchen, Their Table, an interview series with the chefs and culinary professionals who work hard to satisfy our small city’s big appetite. This month we’re featuring an interview with Jake and Raquel Stevens from Leeward. Photos and videos will continue to expand on the story throughout the rest of the month on instagram, so stay tuned.

In their early teen years, Jake and Raquel Stevens began working in restaurants on opposite sides of the country. Jake washed dishes, bussed tables, and ran food at The Spaghetti Factory in Portland, Oregon. Meanwhile, Raquel poured soda at her godparent’s clam shack in New London, Connecticut. “I was very good at telling the subtle difference between Diet Coke, Coke, and root beer by sight alone,” she jokes.

Raquel fell hard for the adrenaline of the restaurant industry while bouncing from one buzzing clam shack to another, always working front-of-the-house. Jake took a liking to back-of-the-house when he filled in for a no-show line cook. He enjoyed cooking so much that he dropped out of college and transferred to the former Scottsdale Culinary Institute, now closed.

After a stint in the Caribbean and roaming California with a band, Raquel moved to Portland, Oregon, where she and Jake’s fates aligned. The two met while working at Chef Jenn Louis’ nationally recognized restaurant, Lincoln, now closed. “That was the first restaurant I worked at where I realized restaurants could be beautiful, serious, and create lovely food,” Raquel explains.

The duo then moved to Los Angeles and worked at The Tasting Kitchen, where Raquel learned about obscure wine varietals and Jake discovered a passion for handmade pasta. Eventually, they returned to Portland, Oregon, where Jake served as chef de cuisine at Beast, now Ripe Cooperative, and Raquel refined her knowledge of classic French wines at Laurelhurst Market.

In July 2017, Jake and Raquel left one Portland for another. Maine reminded them of their favorite parts of the Pacific Northwest. The Forest City offered a slower pace of life and a better opportunity to open a restaurant. Their transition to restaurant owners was slow and strategic. For three years, Raquel expanded her wine education at Drifters Wife, and Jake gained experience with East coast seafood as the sous chef at Eventide. “We felt it was important to engrain ourselves into the food culture here and get to know people in the industry. We didn’t want to just come in and railroad our own concept,” Jake explains.

Leeward debuted in September 2018 when the Stevens held their first pop-up dinner at The Honey Paw.  After three more successful pop-ups, they leased space on a stretch of Free Street that is notoriously windy. (Ironically, leeward means “sheltered from the wind” in its nautical context). On March 12, 2020, Jake and Raquel opened the doors to 85 Free Street but announced the closure of their dining room in response to COVID-19 later that week.

Leeward weathered the pandemic like so many others by offering creative takeout options and outdoor dining on a freshly built patio during the warmer months. Finally, in summer 2021, Jake and Raquel welcomed guests once again to dine indoors. Leeward’s outstanding handmade pasta and intriguing wine list have received well-deserved praise from locals and tourists alike and others in the industry, such as Cara Stadler, Brain Catapang, and Kelly Nelson.

Continue reading to find out which pasta dish Jake “can’t take off the menu,” which wine region Raquel is loving most right now, their favorite takeout spots in Portland, and who they believe makes the “best pizza in Maine.”


AA: Why do you think Portland, Maine is such a fantastic restaurant city?
JS: Its proximity to bigger cities easily allows for the exchange of ideas and talented industry professionals from larger markets. That coupled with access to amazing local produce and proteins creates a food city that punches above its weight class.

AA: Who has played a vital role in your journey to restaurant ownership?
JS: Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley from Eventide helped us out a lot. I got hired there even though they knew we had the intention of opening our own restaurant. They allowed us to do our pop-ups at The Honey Paw on Tuesdays when they were closed. They were also an invaluable resource and would answer any of our questions regarding business ownership, permitting, paperwork, and taxes. Andrew is still on speed dial for when I need unpaid restaurant consultation.

Our sous chef, Colin Kennedy, and pastry chef, Kate Hamm, have been with us since the beginning. We also had an opening sous chef, Jake Robins, who was here for a few months before returning home. He was hugely helpful in getting this place open — everything from recipe testing to driving to New Hampshire with me to pick up used kitchen equipment. And, of course, everyone that came to our pop-ups and contributed to our Kickstarter.

AA: Raquel, who has had the biggest impact on your wine career?
RS: Kristen Koors, the wine director at Laurelhurst Market, was really instrumental in teaching me about lower intervention wines and a lot of the classics from France. She took me under her wing and helped set me on the path I am on now. Also, Peter and Orenda Hale from Maine & Loire were huge in helping me learn about the natural wine world.

AA: What are your favorite dishes at Leeward?
JS: Our menu changes all the time. In the summertime, I was really excited about the fresh corn polenta. We use Pineland Farms corn and box grate it. We saute all the juices and chunks in butter and add corn cob stock. The starches start to gel, and it sets up like polenta. Then we put a slab of Taleggio cheese on top and melt it in the oven.

The mafaldine is a customer favorite. It’s the one pasta that doesn’t come off the menu. We extrude the mafaldine in-house. For the bolognese, we use grass-fed beef that is ground in house, cured pork, celery, carrot, onion, garlic, Chile de Árbol, bay leaf, housemade tomato paste, pork stock, white wine, and milk that is steeped with Parmigiano Reggiano rinds. Then we toss it all together with some sort of bitter green, like dandelion or escarole, and finish it with a little butter and Parmigiano Reggiano.

AA: What are your favorite wines at Leeward?
RS: Lately, I’ve been captivated by Italy in general, but Piemonte especially. It was a region I wrote off for a long time, but the more I delve into it, the more I learn about producers that are making beautiful, honest, and sometimes unexpected expressions of native grapes in the region.

G.D. Vajra Claré J.C. Langhe Nebbiolo 2020 – This wine is made in a way that harkens back to a time before Barolo was a known region. It’s a lighter expression, partially carbonic, and very chillable, but it still has the floral quality and pencil shavings of Nebbiolo. It’s not what you think of when you think of Nebbiolo, but not so esoteric that you can’t enjoy it.

Scarpa Pelaverga Verduno 2020 – This is also from the Barolo region. It’s the producer’s first vintage of Pelaverga. Peleverga is a native grape, and very little is planted. It’s often planted in between rows and, I believe, used to pacify winemakers as they’re waiting for the Barolo to mature. It’s a light-bodied red with a ton of aromatics similar to amaro. It sort of smells like the forest on a hot day.

Giulia Negri La Tartufaia Barolo 2016 – This wine is made by a brazen young woman who took over her father’s estate. She’s known as “Barolo Girl.” It has the most finesse I’ve ever tasted in a Barolo. She does a long and slow maceration and fermentation, so she’s getting the power from the grape, but in a controlled manner. She’s tempered the boldness.

AA: What are some of your favorite dishes in Portland?
JS: Crispy Gai fried chicken is awesome. I like his crispy waterfall salad too.
RS: They’ve toed this line where it’s really fun and approachable, but it doesn’t feel kitschy.
JS: We also like the drinks at Cocktail Mary and the lamb tartare at Judy Gibson.

AA: What are some of your favorites outside of Portland?
JS: We really love the pizza at Oxbow Beer Garden in Oxford. I think it’s the best pizza in Maine. The ‘Nduja pizza is awesome.
RS: We eat that a lot in winter. We cross country ski then hang out in the beer garden. We waited an hour for that pizza one day, and it was worth it. The fried artichokes are really good too.
JS: Also, the cheese balls at Lorne Wine in Biddeford. They’re like the cheese balls you buy at Staples in the big round tub.
RS: Cheese balls pair remarkably well with nearly any kind of wine. Lorne also serves North Haven Oysters by Adam Campbell. We got to visit his oyster beds a couple of years ago. It looks like they’re just growing in their natural habitat. He doesn’t use cages. The oysters are bottom-cultured.

AA: What do you think is one of the most underrated restaurants in Portland?
JS: I like Bahn Appetit a lot. I wouldn’t say they are underrated but maybe overlooked.
RS: Everyone should go there and try a Bahn mi sandwich. It’s the perfect baguette, and the bread to filling ratio is just right.

AA: What do you recommend for takeout?
JS: The shrimp lettuce wraps at Mr. Tuna.
RS: And Ben Rueben’s Knishery is tasty. His knishes are creative, and the rugelach is excellent. We usually sit on the sidewalk, cover ourselves in crumbs, and then go back inside for more.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

A few notes on the restaurants mentioned in this article: Drifters Wife went out of business in July 2020, Eventide, Crispy Gai, Mr. Tuna, Cocktail Mary, Maine & Loire, Judy Gibson, Lorne Wine and The Honey Paw are open for indoor drinking and/or dining,  Oxbow Beer Garden has outdoor seating, Bahn Appetite and Ben Reuben’s Knishery are open for takeout.

Previous editions of My Kitchen Their Table have featured Courtney Loreg, Chad Conley  Atsuko Fujimoto, Matt Ginn, Jordan Rubin, Cara Stadler, Thomas Takashi Cooke, Ilma Lopez, Bowman Brown, Brian Catapang, Kelly Nelson, and Lee Farrington & Bryna Gootkind.

The My Kitchen Their Table series is brought to life through the talent and hard work of food writer Angela Andre, and the generous sponsorship by Evergreen Credit Union and The Boulos Company.

Photo Credit: Nicole Wolf Photography