Business Is Booming

The Press Herald checked in with restaurants across town on the impact Portland being named Restaurant City of the Year. No surprise, business is booming with restaurants and other businesses mentioned in the Bon Appétit are scrambling to ramp up production and add staff to accommodate the enthusiastic surge of new customers.

Portland restaurants, especially those named in Bon Appétit’s September Best New Restaurants issue, have been rejoicing – and reeling – from the after effects of the magazine’s glowing coverage of the city’s food scene. Business is up – way up, in some cases. Summer tourists are seeking out the restaurants mentioned by Bon Appétit, and locals are visiting for the first time, discovering the gems in their own backyard. Social media has exploded with love for Portland, with restaurants gaining hundreds of followers from all over the country, practically overnight.

Allen’s Coffee Brandy

The Daily Beast has posted an article about Maine’s abiding love for Allen’s Coffee Brandy.

As it turns out, Fireball is actually made in Maine—at a Lewiston facility that the Sazerac Co. acquired a few years ago. Allen’s Coffee Brandy is made in Massachusetts, the state to the south that many Maine residents consider loathsome. Offering a potential future challenge, Sazerac Co. has stepped up its production of Mr. Boston Coffee Flavored Brandy, using coffee extract made in nearby Portland and touting “Made in Maine” on the label. (Sales of Mr. Boston coffee brandy to date remain less than one-tenth of Allen’s.)

Outdoor Dining in Westbrook

Legends Rest is launching their outdoor seating area tonight along River Walk in Westbrook at 4 pm.

What makes this notable is that there outdoor dining option takes advantage of a new state law that allows restaurants to serve alcohol outdoors even when the dining area isn’t immediately adjacent to the restaurant. Legends Rest may in fact be the first  restaurant in the state to make use of the new provision.

Cheap Eats & BYOB

The Portland Phoenix has published a Portland cheap eats guide, a list of 20 destinations where you can eat well and tread lightly on your wallet.

2018 is already more than halfway in the books, and it’s been yet another year of explosive growth for the Portland dining scene. While there’s no shortage of splurge-worthy area meals to sink one’s teeth into, the hunt for cheap eats is as challenging as ever.

Nevertheless, there are a handful of ways to eat relatively well around Portland without breaking the bank or meandering aimlessly around the grocery store. As much as we’d love to portray otherwise, foie gras, caviar and wine pairings do not an everyday option make for the majority of us. Here’s what we’re seeking out when money’s tight.

Also, Up Portland has published a list of BYOB establishments (page 10). I’d recommend they add The Well in Cape Elizabeth to their list. Up Portland is primarily a print publication. I picked up my copy at the West End location of Other Side Delicatessen.

Maine Med Buys Pizza Villa Building

The Press Herald reports that Maine Med is

buying the building that houses Pizza Villa, a neighborhood institution in Portland’s West End for more than 50 years, as part of its $512 million expansion. The hospital said it has no immediate plans to change the property and will work with longtime owners Tony and Phil Regios, who are planning to retire, to find a new operator.

Burger Trends

Little Giant is mentioned in the August issue of Bon Appétit as part of an article on changing trends in restaurant burger style, “We’re living in a golden age of griddled, unfussy burgers. What took so long?”

Canopy Farms Kickstarter

Cara Stadler has launched a $25,000 Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Canopy Farms, the aquaponics greenhouse she’s building in Brunswick. The funds will be used to buy:

  • Monitoring and control systems so we can learn what’s working, and share our learning $6000
  • Water filtration and supplements to fill our system and support its cycle into production $5500
  • Additional grow beds and equipment for experimental and educational projects $9000
  • Consumable materials to support student projects, including water test kits, additional safety gear, and more $4500

Restaurant Custom Coffee Blends

The Press Herald has published an article exploring how coffee roasters and restaurants work together to create custom coffee blends.

At least a dozen Portland-area restaurants have worked with local roasters to create their own coffee blends. Coming up with a custom blend is a little tricky, a mash-up of marketing and making something delicious. Restaurateurs want something complex and memorable that will make their brands linger in the minds of diners, yet the blend also must appeal to a variety of palates.

“There’s nothing more memorable than having a good cup of coffee and dessert,” O’Sullivan said. “That’s the end of your meal.”

No Reservations

Peggy Grodinsky from the Press Herald explores why some restaurants don’t take reservations.

These restaurant owners and managers gave a similar set of reasons for adopting no-reservations policies, which add up to a blend of ambience, flow and management strains. They explained that, to them, hospitality doesn’t equate to taking a reservation. It means treating customers well – to good food and good service – once they get in the door. And while deep down I still wish everybody would copy proprietor Stella Hernandez at Lolita, who keeps about half the space for walk-ins and the rest for reservations, next time I am dining out in Portland and balk at waiting for a table, I will chew on these reasons, served with a side of understanding…

Maine Calling: Vegan & Plant-Based Living

Maine Calling has aired a show on Vegan & Plant-Based Living with guests Avery Yale Kamila, Chris Bassett, Sarah Skovran and Victoria Moran.

More people are turning to vegan diets for their health and for philosophical reasons. By the same token, others are embracing more plant-based eating, which may not qualify as vegan or vegetarian but might minimize meat as part of each meal. We’ll learn how to be vegan or to shift to plant-based living.