Valentines Day is just a few weeks away, and local bars, restaurants and confectioners are just now starting to announce specials they’re offering this year. Check back often, we’ll be adding new entries as they get posted online.
- Ada’s – “Pink Sorpresine (naturally dyed with beets) or a pink and white Lasagna with pink pasta, mushroom duxelle, and a white Ragu sauce”
- Allagash Brewing – releasing Heart of Hearts, a “ruby-colored, foudre-aged sour beer rested for four months on fresh-plucked raspberries”
- Bao Bao – “6-course Valentine’s menu includes a fried tonkatsu oyster sandwich with yuzu koshu aioli.” $68 for two people.
- Baristas + Bites – heart shaped baked goods.
- Basket Island Oysters – a dozen oysters, a bottle of Resurgam Spruced Up hot sauce, and a shucking knife.
- Ben Lu Bakery – has a collection of Valentine’s Day treats available.
- Big Sky Bakery – Valentine’s Day themed baked goods.
- Blue Spoon – will be serving their regular menu plus some Valentine’s Day specials.
- BlueFin – a special Valentine’s Day menu.
- Botto’s Bakery – truffles and cupcakes.
- Broken Arrow – serving a 6-course Valentines tasting menu on Saturday February 13th.
- Chaval – 4-course dinner for takeout and also taking reservations for outdoor dining on their heated patio and in minigrenhouses.
- Craft Curbside – has a set of Valentine’s Day meal kits.
- Dean’s Sweets – has a set of Valentine’s Day options.
- Empanada Club – is offering a traditional Argentinian holiday dulce de leche chocolate-covered cookie.
- Evo – 5-course takeout dinner ($90/person), or a 7-course dinner at Evo ($130/person).
- Fore Street – a takeout menu during Valentine’s Day weekend.
- Gros Confection Bar – Triple Chocolate Entremet & Confections for two.
- Helm – a 3-course prix fixe menu with optional caviar and oysters additions.
- Izakaya Minato – a special Valentine’s Day menu.
- Knotted Apron – 4-course dinner with wine pairings for $75 per person.
- La Belle Patisserie – chocolates and macarons.
- Lake & Co. – will have a dinner of Coquilles St.-Jacques plus sides and desserts. They’ll also be selling Valentine cookie decorating kits.
- Luke’s Lobster – a takeout seafood tower for two with 2 splits of Prosecco, and a box of chocolates from Bixby & Co, $130.
- Mainely Macarons – “Valentine’s boxes include 6 Chocolate and 6 Vanilla Bean with a strawberry jam center.”
- Mr. Tuna – a Valentine’s Day party box.
- North 43 Bistro – 3-course dinner.
- Novare Res – in collaboration with Dean’s Sweets Novare has a set of beer and chocolate pairing which are also available for home delivery via CarHop.
- Portland Beer Hub – a Valentine’s Day special beer bundle of a mixed 4-pack and two whoopie pies
- Portland Cake Co. – 7″ red velvet and chocolate cakes, $25 each.
- Prairie Baking – cakes and confection boxes.
- Ragged Coast Chocolates – has a collection of Valentine’s Day offerings.
- Ribollita – has a Valentine’s Day special of “Scallops w/Moscato Cream w/Fresh Fettuccine & Ricotta Ravioli Bolognese” and their regular menu is also available. They’re open Thursday through Saturday for takeout.
- Sopo Seafood – has Valentin’s Day gift boxes.
- Standard Baking Co. – has hazelnut, sugar and Linzer heart-shaped cookies, opera torte, and French macarons.
- Sugar Giant – has a Valentine’s Day box with optional champagne and print add-ons.
- Tao Yuan – 9-course chef’s tasting menu, $58 per person.
- Top of the East – 3-course takeout dinner for 2, $85.
- Union – 4-course takeout dinner for 2, $120.
- Union Kitchen – has a special Valentine’s Day menu.
- Vena’s Fizz House – a “Valentine’s Day beverage kit that includes ingredients & recipes for both cocktails and mocktails”.
- Wine Wise – Périgord black truffle virtual wine dinner for 2 with Chaval, $250.
- Yardie Ting – a stuffed salmon dinner for two with sides, dessert and two bottles of Ting for $90.
Ramona’s is launching a guest chef series. The series kicks off next weekend with Judy Gibson and runs through early April.
In addition to partnerships with Portland area restaurants the series includes chefs from Commander’s Palace in New Orleans and Mile End Deli in Brooklyn.
Wednesday – This week’s guest chef collaboration at Radici is with chef Cara Stadler from Bao Bao.
Thursday – Tandem is re-opening their West End coffee shop and bakery for takeout, and Mami, George’s North Shore and Highroller are collaborating on 2-night pop-up.
Friday – it’s the first of a 2-day guest chef collaboration at the Small Axe Pop-up/East Eender with chef Josh Sobel from Ramona’s.
Flavors of Freeport, the annual celebration of food and drink in Freeport, Maine, is taking place February 1 – 28. This year the Visit Freeport (website, facebook, instagram) organization has created two ways to explore the restaurants and other businesses in town.
Restaurants, coffee shops and other food businesses will be offering Freeport On The Menu specials during February. Take a look at the Visit Freeport website and/or check in with your favorite Freeport businesses on instagram for details on what they have to offer.
Also during February take part in Freeport Foodie Lotto with the chance to win a $1,000 prize or gift cards from local businesses. Download a copy of the game card and earn Flavors of Freeport stamps by spending $10 or more at one of the participating businesses. You can get stamps for the Stay in Freeport squares by making making a hotel reservation, and earn a stamp for the center square by making a donation of $10 to the Freeport Community Services Food Pantry. Full details and rules are included on the game card, along with details on all the participating businesses.
Nominations are now open for the 6th Annual Press Herald Source Awards. The awards recognize “Mainers’ most promising, innovative and successful efforts – large and small – to combat climate change, and to otherwise protect, sustain and conserve our beautiful state, its resources and waters”. Numerous food and agricultural businesses have been recognized in past years.
You can nominate a sustainable initiative you admire online now through March 1st.
The Press Herald has published an update on this year’s edition of Maine Restaurant Week which is taking place March 1 – 12.
Instead of offering the traditional Restaurant Week three-course menus, Maine restaurants – many of which are struggling financially – have simply been asked to come up with something creative to offer diners. And in another nod to the pandemic, Restaurant Week specials will be available for curbside takeout as well as indoor and outdoor dining.
Terlingua is launching a guest chef series that will start next week and run through the end of April. Each guest chef will be creating a dish that makes use of smoked meats from Terlingua.
Highroller Lobster is first up with a “BBQ Brisket Grilled cheese//bbq sauce//beer battered onion strings” sandwich.
Here’s the full schedule:
- January 26th – Highroller Lobster Co.
- February 9th – Mr.Tuna
- February 23rd – Chaval
- March 9th – Woodfords F&B
- March 23rd – Izikaya Minato
- April 9th – Central Provisions/Tipo
- April 20th – Ramonas
Small Axe is launching a guest chef series in February:
- Josh Sobel from Ramona’s and Small Axe are collaborating on a menu that will be available on February 5 – 6
- Atsuko Fujimoto from Norimoto Bakery will be working with Small Axe on a menu for February 19 – 20
Briana Holt from Tandem Bakery will be on the calendar in March, and Small Axe is working to schedule more chefs. Stay tuned for more details.
It’s been an extremely difficult year for restaurants and the entire world. No report can fully or adequately capture all that has happened and that we’ve experienced in the past 12 months. That said, here’s an attempt to provide a high level overview of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the rays of hope and sunshine that was the 2020 year in food for Portland:
- Covid-19 – The pandemic crashed into the restaurant industry in the week leading up to Friday the 13th of March. It’s been a tortuous year for employees and business owners ever since. Everyone experienced the uncertainty of those early days, the rapid growth of takeout options, the eventual loosening of restrictions in the early summer that paved the way for outdoor and on-street dining, and the contraction in business as cooler weather and darker days arrived. A number of restaurants have permanently closed—each and every one of the having a ripple effect through the lives of their staff and the communities they were part of. The vaccine(s) have provided a light that we can see at then end of a long tunnel. Here’s to hoping for a better year in 2021.
- Community – In response to Covid, the racial justice protests and hardship heightened by the recession we’ve seen the restaurant industry and the broader community work together and respond in new ways. In the spring efforts like Feeding the Frontline and Frontline Foods channeled donations from the public into free meals to medical staff who were working to respond to the pandemic. Cooking for Community was founded in Maine as a way to deliver meals to people in need while simultaneously supporting local restaurants, farms and fisheries. Thousands of Mainers took part in the Black Lives Matter protests. The restaurant industry showed its support by taking part in Bakers Against Racism, the Black is Beautiful collaboration beer project and Food Industry Action, and Mainers became new customers Black-owned restaurants, bars and other businesses informed by the list created by BlackOwnedMaine.com. Fork Food Lab established an entrepreneurial empowerment scholarship program and Mainers supported a Go Fund Me campaign to enable Me Lon Togo to move their shuttered Waterville restaurant to Camden. This list just scratches the surface…numerous efforts by individual restaurants and people have raised funds, created programs from scratch and otherwise stepped forward to help people in need.
- Most Notable Openings – Against all odds, new food business have launched both pre/post pandemic and managed to hold on throughout the year. The most notable opening for me have been Magnus on Water in January, Judy Gibson in February, Leeward in March, Via Vecchia and Zao Ze Cafe in June and Liu Bian Tan in September, and the fearless launch of Solo Cucina Market on March 22nd. See the monthly chronicle for details on all 2020 openings.
- Latin American and Caribbean – Options for Latin American and the Caribbean are on the upswing. Magnus on Water, Dos Naciones, Sal de la Tierra, Tacos y Tequila, Mi Pueblo Tacos y Tequila, and Pacifico all launched in the past year. In addition, Yardie Ting is planning to open a second location, Flores is building out a bigger second restaurant at 431 Congress Street, a new eatery called Caribbean Taste in under construction in South Portland, and a Costa Rican/Honduran inspired restaurant called Cafe Louis is under construction in South Portland.
- Upcoming in 2021 – There are a number of new businesses slated to open in 2021 and I expect additions to the list to accelerate as we head into spring. For the full list of new food businesses under development see PFM Under Construction list. Here are some of the current highlights:
- Cafe Louis – a Costa Rican/Honduran inspired restaurant being opened by Eaux owner Evan Richardson and business partner Ben Ferri in South Portland.
- Coveside Coffee – a new coffee shop in Woodfords Corner being launched by Andy Nesheim and Zara Bohan.
- Dandy’s Handy Store – a market being opened in Yarmouth by Garrison chef/owner Christian Hayes.
- Elda/Jack Rabbit – Bowman Brown will be re-opening Elda and launching a new bakery cafe in the mill building Biddeford.
- Helm – a new oyster bar and restaurant located in the WEX building on Thames Street.
- Papa – a new food truck being launched by Josh Amergian.
- Pigeons – Peter and Orenda Hale are opening “fly casual” daytime neighborhood bar/eatery and with a daily happy hour in the space where they formerly operated Drifters Wife.
- Sok Sabai – a new food truck being launched by Tina Nop that will serve Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese food.
- SoPo Seafood – a new oyster and wine bar and seafood shop in Knightville in South Portland.
Top 10 Articles
The most popular articles published on Portland Food Map in the past year.
- Big Takeout List (March 14th)
- Indoor/Outdoor Dining List (June 21st)
- Pandemic Casualty List (May 4th)
- Black-owned Restaurants List (June 1st)
- Rise of the Restaumart (April 21st)
- Maine Hospitality Workers Resource Guide (March 23rd)
- Vertical Harvest Coming to Maine (July 28th)
- Food Truck Tracking Apps (June 26th)
- Maine Heirloom Apple Guide (August 31st)
- Opening of NewYork Fried Chicken (June 7th)
Notable Events of 2020
- January – 6 Maine businesses were winner at the Good Food Awards, Courtney Loreg from Woodfords F&B was the featured chef for the inaugural My Kitchen Their Table interview series, the Chef Summit took place, Mission Chinese chef Danny Bowien was the guest chef at Solo Italiano, Sean Turley from The Righteous Russet was interviewed by Malus, staff from Bard Coffee and Speckled Ax qualified for the US Coffee Championships. Magnus on Water, Ada’s, 207 Bar and Restaurant, The Knotted Apron, and Noodle Love opened.
- February – the Brew Bus merged with Dave’s Travel and Events from Australia, 11 chefs and restaurants from Maine were named James Beard semifinalists, the Portland Food Co-op taught a acorn workshop. Ishi Ishi and Dos Naciones opened.
- March – The Covid pandemic officially arrived in Maine and restaurants began adapting (we weren’t yet say pivot), the city asked restaurants to immediately transition to delivery and takeout, restaurants began preparing meals for school children and delivering meals to frontline workers, the governor ordered dining rooms to close statewide, Maine distillers began producing hand sanitizer, Andrew Ross wrote his last regular restaurant review of the year, Solo Cucina Market opened in South Portland. Portland Food Map began publishing a takeout and food delivery list, and in collaboration with Caroline Richter, a Hospitality Workers Resource Guide In the earlier pre-Covid part of March Five Fifty-Five had announced plans to close in mid-April, Sarah Jackson from the Hunt & Alpine Club and LyAnna Sanabria from Chaval came in first and second place at the Northeast regional Speedrack competition. Leeward, Judy Gibson, and Robin’s Table opened, and A&C opened a (short lived) second location in the West End. Bob’s Clam Hut closed their Portland location.
- April – there was a fire at Walker’s Maine and one at Browne Trading, Cooking for Community launched, a number of restaurant launched in-house takeout grocery services, the Portland Farmers’ Market opened for its 252nd season, it became legal for restaurants to sell to go cocktails and growlers of beer with their takeout meals. Ramona’s opened for takeout on Washington Ave. Blue Spoon Cafe and Catering closed.
- May – Chefs from four Maine restaurants were announced as 2020 Beard Awards nominees, a survey by Eat Drink Lucky found that only 23% of customers were planning to eat in restaurants as soon as they re-opened. The Commercial Street Arabica, the West End LB Kitchen, Wild Burritos, Pearl, Royale Lunch, Miller Brothers Seafood, and Uncle Andy’s went out of business.
- June – Restaurants in Cumberland County were allowed to re-open for outdoor dining on June 1st and indoor dining on June 17th. Black Lives Matter protests began taking place in Portland around the state which prompted a strong interest in black-owned food businesses. Restaurants began demonstrating support for the protests, bakers participated Bakers Against Racism, brewers took part in the Black is Beautiful collaboration beer, and restaurants took part in Food Industry Action. A number of streets in the Old Port were blocked off to provide space for restaurants to offer expanded outdoor dining, Black Dinah Chocolates announced plans to change the name of the company, Melissa Kelly chef/owner of Primo testified before Congress on PPP loans. The Somali Bantu Community Association in collaboration with the Agrarian Trust launched a $367k crowdfunding campaign to acquire a 107-acre farm in Wales, Maine. Several companies launched food truck tracking services. Burundi Star Coffee, Zao Ze Cafe, Via Vecchia, and Evo X opened. The Cider House, Woodhull and the Old Port Sandwich Shop went out of business.
- July – Vertical Harvest announced their plans to build a 70,000 square foot hydroponics greenhouse in downtown Westbrook. Radici, the Bard Coffee food truck, the new Little Woodfords, Je’s Neighborhood Store, Haole Ice, Actual Foods, opened. Piccolo, Sip of Europe and Drifters Wife closed.
- August – the Maine Sunday Telegram took a multifaceted look at how the pandemic was changing the restaurant industry in Maine, Wine Enthusiast magazine named Andrew and Briana Volk to their 2020 40 Under 40 list, the Somali Bantu Community Association successsfuly completed their $367k crowdfunding campaign. Joe Ricchio launched an online video cooking series called My Seventies Kitchen. NewYork [sic] Fried Chicken, Little Easy Snoballs, Paella Seafood, Jefe Juan’s, Halsted’s, Navis Cafe, George’s North Shore, and Sal de la Tierra opened. Vinland closed.
- September – Fork Food Lab announced plans for an entrepreneurial empowerment scholarship program, Anoche and Cornish Cider launched the Backyard Cider Project. The Thames Street Speckled Ax, Liu Bian Tan, Smokey & Brines, D Ajan’s Supermarket opened. Lio and Cellar Door on Thompson’s Point closed.
- October – Rabelais Books and its owner Don Lindgren were included in this year’s Saveur 100, Colleen Kelly opened a new version of Silly, Rover announced plans to re-open their bagel shop in Biddeford, Eaux announced plans to move to a new location. The Portland Banded Brewing tasting room, Rigby Yard, Roll Call and Fusillo opened. Flood’s, The Exchange Street Holy Donut, Brewery Extrava, Ameera Bread and the Old Port Po ‘Boys closed.
- November – Nine Maine food producers were named Good Food Awards finalists, Food & Wine named Night Moves one of the top ten best bakeries in America, Terlingua opened at their new location, Tina Nop was the first recipient of a Fork Food Lab Entrepreneurial Empowerment Scholarship, Vena’s announced plans to move to a new location, Central Provisions made temporary pivot in Central Sandwich and Provisions. Mount Desserts Pie Company, Tiny’s, Crispy Gai, and Jing Yan opened. Ernie’s went out of business.
- December – Governor Janet Mills has announced a $40M aid program for the hospitality industry, A&C and Woodfords began issuing restaurant bonds. XO Burgers and Wings, Kuno, Tacos y Tequila, and Batson River opened. Browne Trading re-opened their market. More & Co. went out of business.
- Nancy Whipple Lord – a co-founder of the Seamen’s Club restaurant in 1973.
- William M. “Bucky” Leighton, Jr., 70 – a teacher at the Culinary Institute in Portland and a chef at Roberts Restaurant in Portland as well as a food service instructor at Portland Regional Vocational Technical Center in Portland.
For additional perspectives on the past year in food see Andrew Ross’s 2020 Best of list in the Maine Sunday Telegram.
Here are links to the Portland Food Map year in review reports for 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.
35 options and counting on this year’s New Year’s list. Check back, we’ll be adding more as more restaurants announce their offerings. Don’t see your favorite restaurant on the list? Check with them directly. Some restaurants may be open on NYE with their regular takeout/menu options.
If you know of any restaurants offering special New Year’s Eve/Day options please email me or post a comment below with the details.
- Bao Bao – a special 4-course takeout menu celebrates the dumpling in its many forms from around the world. Order online.
- Broken Arrow – 6-course dinner with Champagne toast.
- Central Provisions – takeout caviar, foie gras, dinner and drinks. Order online.
- Chaval – has on offer a takeout 3-course prix fixe dinner as well as a flounder crudo appetizer and beef tenderloin on special on NYE. Order online.
- Cocktail Mary – Their NYE Kit includes “A bottle of Anton Ohlig Brut Rose, Cantina del Pioppa Lambrusco di Modena, Famille St. Laurent Saint-Pourçain and Quinto Do Infantado White Port. Sex work, Negroni, Maple Old fashioned and Bellini for two.” $99.99. Order online.
- Crispy Gai – fried chicken, caviar and Miller. Order online.
- Duckfat Friteshack – an a la carte menu of American Chinese food. Order online.
- Evo – a 5-course takeout meal which is a collaboration with Colin Wyatt former Executive Sous Chef at Eleven Madison Park. Order online.
- Fore Street – full takeout menu. (207) 775-2717.
- Highroller Lobster/Sun Oriental – a menu created in collaboration between Highroller and Sun Oriental Market available for takeout, on-site dining and delivery.
- Hunt & Alpine – NYE takeout party kits (2 servings of 4 cocktails plus olives, Hunt’s nut mix, pickles) for $75. Order online.
- Isa – a NYE takeout menu available for pre-order by calling (207) 808-8533.
- Izakaya Minato – Omakase for 2, $80. Order online.
- Judy Gibson – a snack pack for 2-4 people, “Smoked mussels, house made summer sausage, chicken liver pâté with elderflower-buttermilk jelly, spicy popcorn, mixed pickles and olives along with a bottle of bubbles for $60”. (207)808-8649.
- Little Giant – Burger boxes, “fancy hotdogs” and champagne available to order on New Year’s Eve.
- Luke’s – A takeout seafood tower and other options for New Year’s Eve. Order online.
- Mr. Tuna – a variety of sushi options (chirashi, part box, maki platters, etc) for takeout. Order online.
- North 43 Bistro – has a special NYE menu available for takeout of on-site dining.
- Other Side Diner – a takeout prime rib dinner for 2 $75. firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Petite Jacqueline – serving a 4-course dinner for $75 with optional wine pairings for takeout or on-site dining. They also have a canape basket for 4.
- Roma Cafe – has a special NYE menu for takeout or on-site dining.
- Round Turn Distilling – French 75 cocktail kits. Order online.
- Sebago Brewing Co. – has a NYE menu for takeout and on-site dining.
- Small Axe – will be serving a takeout brunch menu on New Year’s Day. See menu.
- Sur Lie – a takeout NYE differ for 2, $120 with options for add-ons wine or cocktails. Order online.
- Terlingua – outdoor seatings at 4:30pm, 6:30pm, and 8:30pm for parties of 2-6 people; reservations required. Also a BBQ and bubbles takeout meal for 2, $165. Order online.
- The Honey Paw – at-cost caviar: 30, 60 or 90 grams. Order online.
- Tipo – 3-course takeout dinner for $60/person. Order online.
- Top of the East – a NYE takeout Celebration Box that includes apps and dessert for 2, $60. Order online.
- Urban Farm Fermentory – will be launching their new brunch service in the UFF tasting room on New Year’s Day, 8am to 6pm.
- Verbena – a variety of takeout options for NYE and brunch the morning after.
- Wine Wise and Chaval –a virtual wine dinner for two (deliver included) for $250 – order online. Also a takeout New Year’s Day wine brunch for two for $125 – order online.
- Woodford F&B – three takeout hors d’ouevres options. (207) 200-8503.