2018 Year in Review: City of the Year, Closings, Wine Week, Top Stories, Passings

I’ve scanned through the records for the past year and here’s a summary of events and trends for 2018:

  • Restaurant City of the Year – national attention came at a quick pace in 2018 including a Best New for Elda from Eater and for Rose Foods and the new Drifters from BAEater national critic Bill Addison added Palace Diner to his list of the nation’s most essential restaurants, and Kate Krader from Bloomberg picked the sushi roles from Mister Tuna for her list of the best things she ate in 2018. However, easily the most impactful story of 2018 came in early August when Bon Appetit named Portland their Restaurant City of the Year. Restaurant staff had about five minutes to enjoy the recognition before seemingly everyone in North America got on a plane or in their car to come for a visit, determined to eat at every cafe, bar and bistro on the list.
  • Closings – Unlike the last few years, 2018 might have been as notable for the restaurants that closed as for the restaurants that opened. The beloved West End cafe Aurora Provisions went out of business. After nearly 4 decades in operation Three Dollar Deweys closed up shop (and is reopening under new ownership). Longtime Old Port eatery Federal Spice closed right before Christmas. Beard nominated chef Brian Hill closed Francine Bistro in Camden. Other restaurants we said goodbye to in 2018 include Tempo Dulu, Valley Chinese Cuisine, Abilene, Big J’s Chicken Shack, the comeback of Uncle Billy’s, East End Cupcakes, Babylon, Bolster Snow, the Commercial Street Rosemont and Juiced. Fork Food Lab was slated to close but saved by a new owner.
  • New Restaurants – there were, a number of new restaurants and other food businesses that opened in 2018. Mister Tuna opened up in the Public Market House, Crown Jewel launched in Diamond Cove, Sonny’s converted to Black Cow, Drifters moved into a larger space, and Sagamore Hill, Forage Market, Bob’s Clam Hut, Simply Vegan by Silly’s opened to name just a few. However, my choice for the two best new restaurants of 2018 are Cara Stadler’s Lio and the Exchange Street Cajun restaurant Eaux.
  • Locations – Inner Washington Ave remained a hot neighborhood in 2018, however looking forward I expect to see more new establishments popping up in Bayside and along Forest Ave particularly in Woodfords Corner.
  • Wine City – the inaugural Portland Wine Week was a smashing success this year, showing that this is as much a city of wine lovers as it is beer geeks. Portland Wine Week compromised 53 different events including professional development lectures, wine dinners, a grand tasting, a closing gala and a multi-restaurant passport program.
  • Upcoming in 2019 – The number of new food businesses under development has significantly dropped off in comparison to the last few years. Of the 20 or so new ventures being tracked on the PFM Under Construction list, the ones I’m most looking forward to in 2019 are:
    • Candy’s – a cross between a coffee shop/cocktail bar/cafe and a queer community space.
    • Dizzy Bird – a chicken rotisserie restaurant serving ‘honest to goodness’ elevated scratch comfort foods.
    • Name TBD – Palace co-owner Greg Mitchell is opening a new restaurant in the West End.
    • Gross Confection Bar – Brant Dadaleares’s new Exchange Street spot serving an “ever changing selection of high-quality artfully-plated desserts, cocktails, dessert wines, and digestifs” in the evening, and take-out pastries and coffee in the mornings.
    • LB Kitchen – Lee Farrington is bringing her bone broth, grain bowls to a second location in the West End.
    • Monte’s Fine Food – a neighborhood specialty market and and casual restaurant on outer Washington Ave.
    • Quiero Cafe – this Saco-based restaurant is opening a 2nd location in Bramhall Square.
    • The GarrisonChopped champion chef and owner of Dandelion Catering, Christian Hayes, is opening his first restaurant in Yarmouth.

Top 10 Articles

The most popular articles published on Portland Food Map in the past year.

  1. Simply Vegan – opening announcement for Simply Vegan by Silly’s
  2. Portland Zoo – opening announcement for the Portland Zoo on Fox Street
  3. Crown Jewel – news on the upcoming opening of Crown Jewel
  4. Pizzarino – details on Pizzarino, the new pizzeria on Fore Street
  5. Independent Ice Co. – opening announcement for the Independent Ice Company
  6. Public Market House – news on the 3 new vendors (Sichuan Kitchen, Mr. Tuna, Totally Tubers) destined for the Public Market House
  7. Biddeford – first word on Dizzy Bird and Time & Tide Coffee in Biddeford
  8. Poke Pop – upcoming opening announcement for Poke Pop in Longfellow Square
  9. Monte’s – first word on Monte’s Fine Food
  10. Three Dollar Deweys – first word on the re-opening of Three Dollar Deweys

 

Notable Events of 2018

  • January – Troy Mains from the Harraseeket was named the MRA Chef of the Year, Allagash Brewing and Gold Star Honey were award winners at the Good Food Awards, Portland Stage put on a production of Babette’s Feast, the European Bakery in Falmouth changed hands, Baxter’s Fine Candies moved from the West End to Westbrook, Immigrant Kitchens author Lindsay Sterling was a finalist for the New York Times 52 Places travel writer position, Arcadia announced plans to expand, the new Benkay restaurant opened on Middle Street and Francine Bistro closed in Camden.
  • February11 chefs and restaurants were named Beard Foundation semi-finalists, Andrew Taylor, Mike Wiley and Arlin Smith began working on a proposal for an Eventide cookbook, word broke on Portland Wine Week, Barton Seaver’s book American Seafood was named an IACP finalist, City regulatory enforcement has ended in-house meat curing programs at Portland restaurants, the parent companies of Tempo Dulu/Opium in Portland and Natalie’s in Camden declared bankruptcy, Black Cat Coffee changed hands, the new Drifters Wife, Tally’s Kitchen, Sebago Brewing, The Proper Cup, Bow Street Beverage and Stone Fort Distillery opened, and Valley Chinese Cuisine closed.
  • March – the award-winning author and the ‘godmother’ of the natural wine world Alice Feiring  visited Portland for a book signing, 2 Mainers were named Beard Foundation award nominees, Emil Rivera was the guest chef for a dinner at the Beard House, Maine Restaurant Week took place, the Maine Historical Society launched a Maine Eats exhibit, the Food Network has published an eating guide to Portland, chef Christian Hayes beat out the other contestants on Chopped, Sam Hayward, Ilma Lopez, Sara Jenkins, Paolo Laboa and Troy Mains were the featured chefs at the 17th Annual PSO Wine Dinner, Urban Sugar changed their name to Eighty 8 Donut Cafe, Foley’s Bakery changed its name to Scattoloni, Tipo ran a guest pizza chef series, Black Cow, a 2nd Union Bagel, Veranda Kitchen & Bar, Little Spruce Baking, Quill Book & Beverage and Walkers Maine opened, Abilene, Big J’s Chicken Shack and Tempo Dulu/Opium closed and Artemisia stopped their dinner service.
  • April – Chef Austin Miller from Mami competed on Chopped, Jim and Gillian Britt became part owners of the Harvest on the Harbor festival, Uncle Billy’s leased the former Abilene space, Maine Foodie Tours owner Pamela Laskey won the 2018 Award for Innovation & Creativity at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, chefs from Central Provisions, Chaval and Walkers Maine teamed to serve a dinner at the Beard House and Andrew Chadwick from the Sea Glass was also a guest chef at the Beard House, Standard Baking considered launching a food cart, Maine Lobster Shack, IceIt Bakery, Blue Lobster Wine Company opened, and a 2nd Two Fat Cats opened in South Portland.
  • May – Shipyard shared plans to transform their Hancock Street brewery into a brewtel, Beer Advocate included Battery Steele in their list of the 50 best breweries of the past year, chef Jason Daly competed on Chopped, and Locally Sauced, Rwanda Bean, Eaux, Bier Cellar Gorham, Greeks of Peaks, Duckfat Frites Shack, Sagamore Hill, Uncle Billy’s, Legends Rest, Vantage Point, Truffle Truck, Definitive Brewing opened.
  • JuneBon Appétit has included The Purple House, Ten Ten Pié and Hot Suppa in their list of America’s Favorite Neighborhood Restaurants, the inaugural Portland Wine Week took place, the newly redesign Portland Food Map website launched, East End Cupcakes close, and Lio, Waypoint Provisions, Clam Digger, the Noble BBQ food truck and Brickyard Hollow opened.
  • July – Matt Ginn beat out the competition on Chopped, Nancy Harmon Jenkins taught a food writing workshop in Rockport, the Boston Globe took notice of the developments taking place along Forest Ave and in Woodfords Corner, Eater named Elda to their list of the Best New Restaurants in America, Bon Appétit included Rose Foods and the new Drifters Wife in their list of the 50 Best New Restaurants in America, Three Dollar Deweys closed, word spread that Fork Food Lab was shutting down, and Heritage Seaweed, Strata, Crown Jewel, Poke Pop, Simply Vegan by Silly’s, Bob’s Clam Hut, Independent Ice Company and Dunstan Tap & Table opened.
  • August – Andrew Knowlton from Bon Appétit has named Portland the 2018 Restaurant City of the Year, Blue Spoon changed hands, Hella Good and Aurora Provisions closed, and Pizzarino, Hana Thai, The Steam Machine, Forage Market and Good News Coffee & Package opened.
  • September – Fyood Kitchen founder Maddie Purcell won the Outstanding Young Entrepreneur award from SCORE, Babylon and Uncle Billy’s closed, and Chocolats Passion, Hero’s and The Cheese Shop opened.
  • October –  the 5th Annual Heirloom Apple Tasting took place, Fork Food Lab announced plans to continue under new ownership, Lars Taylor from The Honey Paw came in 2nd place at the national Lamb Jam competition, and Crunchy Poke, Root Wild, Portland Zoo, All those Who Wander, Mister Tuna, Maine Oyster Company opened.
  • November – the lobster emoji launched onto cellphones everywhere, the 2018 New England Food System Innovation Challenge took place at Saint Joseph’s College, 5 Maine food producers named finalists in the 2019 Good Food Awards, Palace Diner was named to Eater’s 2018 list of America’s Most Essential Restaurants, a new owner stepped forward to reopen Three Dollar Deweys, Civil Eats published an article on the innovation and growth of the Maine grain industry, the Commercial Street Rosemont, Bolster Snow and All Those Who Wander closed, and Time and Tide, Totally Tubers, Stars & Stripes Brewing and De Nada Empanadas opened.
  • December – Palace Diner co-owner Greg Mitchell announced plans to open a new restaurant in the West End, Bard barista Milo DeGoosh placed 11th place at the national USBC qualifying event, Kate Krader from Bloomberg included the Chutoro Hand Roll from Mr. Tuna in her list of the Best Restaurant Dishes of 2018, Grace, Federal Spice and Juiced closed, and Farm to Coast Cafe, Austin Street Brewery and N To Tail opened.

Top 25 Restaurants

  1. Tuscan Table (-)
  2. Bolster Snow Co. (-)
  3. Drifters Wife (>25)
  4. Chaval (2)
  5. Little Giant (4)
  6. Yobo (21)
  7. Tipo (1)
  8. Benkay (>25)
  9. Black Cow (-)
  10. Sichuan Kitchen (7)
  11. Izakaya Minato (5)
  12. North 43 Bistro (>25)
  13. Isa (6)
  14. Lazzari (>25)
  15. Highroller Lobster (>25)
  16. Lena’s (-)
  17. Cong Tu Bot (8)
  18. Blue Fin (>25)
  19. Piccolo (15)
  20. Petite Jacqueline (14)
  21. Roma Cafe (13)
  22. Five Fifty-Five (>25)
  23. Baharat (3)
  24. Central Provisions (>25)
  25. Emilitsa (>25)

The numbers in parentheses indicate their rank last year. The order of the list is determined by the number of times these restaurants were looked up on PFM during the year.

Passings

For some other perspectives on the past year see The Blueberry Files, Portland Magazine, the Portland Press HeraldMaine Sunday Telegram, Peter Peter Portland Eater, and Portland Phoenix.

Here are links to the Portland Food Map year in review reports for 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

This Week’s Events: NYE List, New Year’s Day Brunch

Monday – It’s New Year’s Eve:

  • Arcadia – is serving a special NYE menu and will have a waffle station with assorted toppings.
  • Baharat – will be serving a special NYE menu.
  • 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.
  • Lio – 5-course dinner.
  • Local 188 – open serving their regular menu.
  • Lolita – 6-course dinner for $110 per person (tax and tip included).
  • North 43 Bistro – 4-course dinner.
  • Novare Res – will be serving “our best lambics and spontaneous bottles” by the glass.
  • 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.
  • Woodford F&B – serving their standard menu ” enhanced with festive specials”

Tuesday – Local 188, Front Room, Corner Room, and Woodford F&B are serving New Year’s Day brunch.

FridayRosemont on Brighton is holding a wine tasting.

Saturday – 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.

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.

Beer Releases at Oxbow & Rising Tide

Two beer releases are taking place this weekend:

  • Rising Tide will tapping 12 barrel-aged beers on Saturday which will include “several never before released projects” including a “spontaneously fermented ale with raspberries”.
  • Oxbow is releasing a pair beers brewed with Maine honey to celebrate the landmark accomplishments of Karl von Frisch to explain the dancing behavior of bees. Both Dance Language beers blonde farmhouse ales brewed with Maine honey. “To showcase the flavors and aromas of different varieties of honey we brewed a single base saison recipe. The DL: Buckwheat Honey is light gold in color with notes of pepper, dried flowers, fresh baked bread, and honey with a medium body finish. While the DL: Blueberry Honey version has notes of  fresh citrus, dark fruit, and honey with a medium body and dry finish.”

This Week’s Events: Italian Cooking Class, Winter Market, NYE List

Thursday – The Great Lost Bear is showcasing beer from Baxter Brewing.

Friday – Marco D’Angelo is teaching an Italian cooking class, and there will be a wine tasting at the West End Rosemont.

Saturday – the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place.

SundayTwo Fat Cats is leading a holiday cookie decorating class, Samuel’s is holding a fundraiser for Toys-for-Tots, and Bow Street Beverage is holding their monthly wine seminar.

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.
  • 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.

Hush, Hush Redux

In a throwback to their early days launching the Hunt and Alpine Club, Andrew and Briana Volk are holding a series of evening pop-up events called Hush, Hush in the Little Giant Market space on Clark Street.

The late-night bar will be open 9 – 11 pm, one Tuesday a month December through May: December 18th, January 15th, February 12th, March 12th, April 9th and May 7th.

They plan to serve natural wines, beer, tinned fish, caviar, burgers, calamari, disco fries and olives.

This Week’s Events: Go Sweet, Seinfeld, Oxbowzakaya, Matt James Art, NYE List

Monday – the 2nd Annual Go Sweet for Hunger event is taking place on Thompson’s Point, and there will be a Banded Horn beer Dinner at Sur Lie.

Wednesday – Eaux is holding a Seinfeld Dinner, the 7th annual Oxbowzakaya is taking place at Pai Men Miyake, and there will be a Musar tasting at Old Port Wine Merchants.

Thursday – Casco Bay Artisans will be hosting a gallery opening featuring the art of Matt James, co-owner of Standard Baking Co. Oxbow Brewing is hosting a party for Candy’s, the cafe/coffee shop, bar and queer community hub under the construction in West Bayside. Students from the USM Tourism and Hospitality Program are holding A Taste of Culture.

Friday – there will be a wine tasting at the Brighton Ave Rosemont.

Saturday – there will be a wine tasting at LeRoux Kitchen, and the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place.

SundayTwo Fat Cats is leading a holiday cookie decorating class.

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

  • Blue Spoon – 4-course 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.
  • Lolita – 6-course dinner for $110 per person (tax and tip included).
  • The Honey Paw – is serving a dim sum menu all night.

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.

Go Sweet for Hunger

Full Plates Full Potential is holding their 2nd Annual Go Sweet for Hunger event this Monday at Thompson’s Point.

Join us for the second annual Go Sweet for Hunger – a Holiday Dessert Extravaganza. Enjoy decadent pastries and delightful confections from greater Portland’s finest bakers, chefs, and chocolatiers and sip on local craft cocktails, locally brewed beer and wine tastings all while helping to ensure that 2019 is a year in which Maine kids have access to the nutrition they need to live their best lives.

Dozens of local restaurants, bakeries and other food producers will be part of the event: Katie Made, Chaval, Dean’s Sweets, Stroudwater Distillery, Bissell Brothers, LB Kitchen, The Bread & Butter Catering Company, Cellardoor Winery at The Point, Five Fifty-Five, Black Tie, Gorgeous Gelato, Hugo’s, Bam Bam Bakery, Landry’s Confections, Portland Pulp, The Bar Of Chocolate, baristas + bites, Central Provisions, LB Kitchen, Krista Desjarlais, Two Fat Cats, Woodford F&B, Ten Ten Pié, Solo Italiano, Eighty 8 Donuts.

Tickets are available online

This Week’s Events: Chisai, Matteo Furlani, Winter Farmers’ Market

MondayChisai—a pop-up collaboration between Carbon, Mr. Tuna, and Piccolo—is taking place at Piccolo.

TuesdayChef Laboa will be teaching a pasta making class at Solo Italiano.

Wednesday – There will be a wine tasting at Old Port Wine Merchants, and the tasting room at the Batson River brewery and distillery is opening in Kennebunkport.

Thursday – The Great Lost Bear will be showcasing Foulmouthed Brewing.

Friday – Winemaker Matteo Furlani will be at Maine & Loire for a tasting and Solo Italiano for a wine dinner.

Saturday – It’s the first day of the Winter Farmers’ Market at 631 Stevens Ave.

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

  • Central Provisions – 7-course dinner with pairings, $150 per person. Two seatings at 6 pm and 10 pm.

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.