Here are some recent food and dining highlights from around the state:
- Travel and Leisure recently declared the Blue Hill peninsula “One of the Best Places to Eat in the U.S. Right Now“. The article mentions Aragosta, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Tinder Hearth, Fin & Fern, Stonington Ice Cream Company, 44 North, Milkweed & Monarch, El El Frijoles, Barncastle, and more.
- The September issue of Down East includes an article about The Rooting Pig in Bristol.
- The Bangor Daily News reports that restaurateurs from Bar Harbor have bought the Stonington building that originally housed Aragosta with plans to open a new establishment called 27 Fathoms Waterfront Grille.
Barber Brothers Meat & Provisions (website, instagram) opened today. The new market is located at 101 Ocean Street in the Knightville neighborhood of South Portland. Customers were lining up on the sidewalk today in anticipation of the opening at noon.
Barber Brothers has an in-house butcher shop, a produce section, refrigerated and frozen products, wine and beer and stocks a wide range of national and local brands of packaged goods. Additional stock is still arriving to fill out the remaining shelf capacity.
The new market is being launched by Max and Jack Barber the co-owners of Mainely Burgers and the grandsons of Gus Barber who founded Barber Foods.
101 Ocean Street was the longtime home of Smaha’s Legion Square Market which was originally founded in 1939 by John Smaha. The Smaha family had sold the market to Alan Cardinal in 2012 and it closed in January 2023.
The market will initially be open Wednesday through Saturday , 11 am – 7 pm.
The Press Herald reports that Allagash Brewing Company was named the Brewery/Brewer of the year at the Great American Beer Festival.
The Portland brewery’s honors included a Gold Medal for Allagash Tripel in the Belgian-style Abbey Ale category, a Silver Medal for Allagash White in the Belgian-style Witbier category, and Brewery and Brewer of the Year in the “Brewery Group” size category. Allagash was the only Maine brewery to take home medals from this year’s event.
Visit the Great American Beer Festival website for a full list of award winners.
All week – Maine Lobster Week is taking place.
Tuesday – Old Port Wine Merchants is holding an Alsatian wine tasting.
Friday – the Fun with Ferments meet-up is taking place at the Urban Farm Fermentory.
Saturday – Tender Table is holding their 3rd annual food and art fair in Congress Square Park, and Biddeford is holding an Oktoberfest celebration. In Wiscasset the Maine Needham Festival is taking place and Jodie’s is holding their grand opening.
October 4 – MOFGA is holding an apple tasting at the Maine Heritage Orchard in Unity.
October 5 – Inside Wayside, a fundraising food event for the Wayside Food Programs is taking place. Additionally, Maine Foodscapes is holding their 2nd annual fundraising dinner at Wolfe’s Neck Farm.
October 7 – Oxbow is holding their annual Goods from the Woods event in Newcastle.
October 8 – Dandelion Spring Farms is holding a Harvest Dinner, and Maine Open Creamery Day is taking place.
October 15 – Twelve is holding a Harvest Party. Tickets go on sale on September 15th.
October 20 – Evo is serving a dinner at the Wolfe’s Neck Center in Freeport.
October 25-28 – Harvest on the Harbor is taking place.
October 26 – Bar Futo is hosting Roundtable, an event and dinner that “brings together chefs, organizers and neighbors for actionable discussion about social justice, mutual aid and sustainability.”
October 28 – the 18th Annual Veg Fest is taking place.
November 5 – Chaval is holding a late harvest dinner at Wolfe’s Neck Center in Freeport.
December 7 – Secret Supper is holding a (sold out) holiday dinner in the Portland area.
June 26 – Secret Supper (instagram) is holding a dinner in the Portland area.
The Maine Sunday Telegram has published a feature article about Joshua Miranda who leads The Miranda Group that operates Blyth & Burrows, Via Vecchia, Papi and Henry’s Public House.
The 51-year-old Munjoy Hill native developed his acumen as a restaurateur over decades of experience in the industry, starting when he was just 8 years old, working as a busboy at a restaurant in Raymond where his dad cooked. He recalled going behind the bar as often as 10 times a shift to make himself virgin tequila sunrises, fascinated by the stacked effect of the liquids.
“It felt comfortable, natural,” Miranda said. “I loved layering the grenadine over the orange juice and learning how much ice was the right amount. I really paid attention to it.”
The Washington Post consulted a “lifetime lobsterman, a food writer and a travel agent” from Maine to select some top lobster rolls in our state.
Whether it be the place where they first enjoyed the delicacy (Pine Tree Frosty in Rangeley for me) or the one that keeps them up at night during the winter pining for summer (Becky’s Diner in Portland), Mainers have spirited debates about who serves the best.
Their picks were: Red’s Eats (Wiscasset), Twelve, Abel’s Lobster (MDI), Highroller Lobster, SoPo Seafood, and Bagaduce Lunch (Penobscot).
Separately, the New York Times consulted four Maine residents for their recommendations on where to stay, shop and eat. Their food recommendations were Smalls, Zu Bakery, J’s Oyster Bar, Dok Mali, Eventide, and Leeward.
Cider Club Portland celebrated its fifth anniversary earlier this summer with a exceptional tasting of US and international ciders. The event that highlighted the progress made in cider appreciation and access over the past half decade.
The regular gathering of cider and apple folks was launched in 2018 by Sean Turley (instagram) initially as a way for local cider enthusiasts to share their passion and collaboratively taste ciders. The group has continued to evolve and now serves as an industry-focused gathering for cider producers and hospitality professionals. It has become an important crossroads for information and a networking event as much as a way to experience a diverse range of ciders and perrys that participants bring to share.
Turley shared his observation on the group’s anniversary, “It has been amazing to see cider grow so significantly in Maine over the last five years and the profound improvement in the quality of cider being produced across the country. Cider is in the same place as American wine in the 1970s, and the future is tremendously bright. It is such a pleasure too be involved with a group dedicating to helping cider realize its potential.”
A key philosophy that Turley established from the start is that all ciders—even ones that may likely be less than special—deserve to be tasted at the meetings and have something to teach. The group has collectively tasted 250+ ciders sourced from 10 countries and 18 states.
Maine now has 25 active producers with more various stages of development. According to IBISWorld there are 2,834 cider production businesses in the US as of 2023 which represents an increase of 13.6% from 2022. It’s exciting to imagine what the Maine cider industry will become and how the Cider Club organization can grow with it over the next five years.
If you are a beverage professional interested in more information on Cider Club, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peng’s Pizza Pies (website, instagram) opened for business in Biddeford Wednesday. It is located at 128 Main Street in the storefront adjacent to Sweetcream Dairy. There was a strong interest in the new pizzeria and they sold out within 90 minutes of opening their doors.
Peng’s is serving crispy thin-crust pies made with naturally leavened dough which stylistically owner Chris Daniels describes as New York meets New Haven. The opening day menu (see below) included six signature pizzas along with a Caesar salad and Basque cheesecake.
Primarily a takeout business, Peng’s also has 8 seats for indoor dining. You can order online.
Daniels has been a professional baker since 2008—in Maine he’s worked at Tandem Bakery, at Belleville and at Rover Bagel. The restaurant is named for Daniels’ father Bill whose nickname was Peng.
Peng’s will be open Wednesday through Sunday, 4 – 9 pm.
A pair of new restaurants opened this past week in the Midcoast.
Yonder (website, instagram) opened Wednesday in Wiscasset. The sandwich shop is located just across Middle Street from Treats. The menu includes a selection of sandwiches as well as daily soup and salad specials. The sandwiches are available in three sizes (small/large/big) and served on focaccia bread.
Yonder is owned by Kelsey and Jonathan Turcotte. They’re open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 am – 4 pm.
Alsace (website, facebook, instagram) opened Wednesday night in Union. As the name suggests the menu features dishes from the Alsace region of France like choucoute garnie and tarte flambé. They also serve some traditional German dishes like jaeger schnitzel and ones whose origins are closer to home like the seafood chowder and grilled lobster. The wine list is weighted to Old World wines with most originating from France.
Chef Fabrice Roux (linkedin) and sommelier Jennifer Roux are new to Maine but not to the industry. They previously operated three restaurants in the Monterey region of California.
Alsace is open for dinner Wednesday/Thursday, 4:30 – 8 pm, Friday 4:30 – 9 pm and Saturday/Sunday 10 am – 2 pm.
The New York Times has included Tinder Hearth in Brooksville in their 2023 list of the 50 restaurants they’re “most excited about right now.”
They bake only 150 pizzas a night, in a wood-burning brick oven, and only four nights a week. And what pizzas they are, built on thin but sturdy 17-inch crusts that have been leavened with wild yeast. The thrill comes from a rotating cast of toppings that might include pork meatballs, chile and garden mint, or confit cherry tomatoes, caramelized onion and ricotta with pops of fresh green coriander and honey.
And, as the Press Herald reports, a recent positive review by Dave Portnoy from Bar Stool Sports has spiked demand for the pizza at Monte’s.
“We’ve been turning away so much business the last few days. We could have doubled or tripled our sales if we had the capacity to keep up with demand,” Quattrucci said, noting that his team has since found ways to boost production.