Crispy Gai (website, instagram) is scheduled to open their new restaurant on Wednesday June 30th. Jordan Rubin (aka Mr Tuna) and Cyle Reynolds originally launched Crispy Gai as a pop-up takeout business last November. Now with its own full kitchen Crispy Gai will offer an expanded menu with dishes like wok fried water spinach, grilled lobster, grilled pork neck, and oysters served with fried shallot and Nam Jim seafood sauce.
The cocktail program will be led by bartender Arvid Brown with “tropical-leaning” drinks that riff off of the ingredients used in kitchen. The menu includes drinks like the Bermuda Love Triangle (a tropical take on a gimlet that incorporates a lime leaf and lemongrass infused citrus cordial and a local coconut gin) and the Wave of Mutilation—a reference to a Pixies song from the 1980s—which is a Mai Tai-like drink that uses over proof rye whiskey, banana liquor and cashew orgeat.
The new Crispy Gai is located at 90 Exchange Street in the space formerly occupied by Eaux. It will be open Wednesday through Sunday, 4 – 10 pm.
The new and expanded Strata (website, instagram) culinary knife and kitchen store is scheduled to open this Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm.
Strata was founded by Evan Atwell in 2018, and was among the first wave of businesses that took up residence in the Black Box container retail spaces on Washington Ave. The new shop is located at 67 Washington Ave in the former Nissen Bakery Building.
Atwell will keep knives at the center of what Strata sells but will have a more diverse product selection including glassware, cookbooks, pasta making tools, traditional handmade Japanese ceramics and lacquerware, aprons, kitchen towels, etc.
Atwell also plans to offer in-person classes for knife sharpening, knife skills, and other topics in the future.
The newly revised and expanded 2021 PFM Printed Pocket Guide is now out. This handy paper reference highlights many of the restaurants, bakeries, breweries, coffee shops, cocktail bars, and cafes that make eating and drinking in Portland so compelling. This year it includes a new food truck section and an expanded list of places to dine elsewhere in Maine.
2021 remains a very dynamic environment for the Maine restaurant industry so please consult the online version of Portland Food Map for the latest information and updates on openings as well as a full list of eateries in the city…and consult restaurant websites for the latest on days and hours of operation.
Many thanks to the 2021 Pocket Guide sponsors. Their generous support plays a crucial role in making the guide available in 2021:
While supplies last you can pick-up a free copy of the guide at these local businesses: Portland Trading Company, Bresca and the Honey Bee in New Gloucester, Tandem Coffee on Congress St, Strata (the new shop opens next weekend), Leeward, Chaval, Rose Foods, Speckled Ax on Thames Street, The Shop, and Oxbow Brewing on Washington Ave.
The pocket guide wouldn’t be as good as it is, in fact it wouldn’t exist at all, without the skills and contributions of Dawn Hagin from Rare Bird Strategic, writer Angela Andre, and graphic designer Sofija Razgaitis. Congratulate them on their work the next time you see them in town.
A new outdoor pizzeria pop-up is operating on Peaks Island this summer called Il Leone (website, instagram)
Owner and chef Ben Wexler-Waite is serving Neapolitan-style made with naturally leavened dough. He uses a portable Forza Foni pizza oven from Italy which cooks the pizzas in 60 – 90 seconds at 850 degrees. The menu includes classic like Margherita and Funghi pizzas as well as their take on a lobster pizza—the Aragosta. They also serve salads and Gelato Fiasco gelato.
Il Leone is leasing space from the Peaks Island Lions Club which is the inspiration for the business name. They are open Wednesday through Sunday: 12:30 – 3:30 for lunch and 5 – 8 for dinner. Wexler-Waite expects to operate through to October.
Three new businesses are opening in the next week or so:
Erik Desjarlais has been hired as the new chef at Owl & Elm (website, facebook, instagram) in Yarmouth.
At Owl & Elm Desjarlais and owner Caitlin Henningsen are planning an elevated village pub menu. Fans of the burger and fish and chips can rest easy that those items will remain on the menu unchanged as will the daily ice cream sundae. The new menu will include items like frisée salad with a duck egg, fried quail with buckwheat waffles, steak frites, fish baked in parchment and a pavé of pork belly with beans on brioche toast, with specials woven into the menu on a regular basis.
Owl & Elm opened 5 years ago and is expected to reopen in the first week of June. The restaurant is located at 365 Main Street in Yarmouth. In addition to their dining room Owl & Elm also has a outdoor dining space on their back deck.
Desjarlais was the chef/owner of Bandol, Ladle and Evangeline in Portland and went on to found Weft & Warp. Most recently he’s been the general manager and chef at the New Gloucester Village Store.
The new Speckled Ax (website, facebook, instagram) coffee shop is now open.
This new pocket-sized cafe and espresso bar is located off peninsula at 135 Walton Street in the same building at their roastary.
Hours are 7 am to 1 pm, Wednesday through Sunday.
A new restaurant called Caribbean Taste opened late last week in South Portland in the Cash Corner neighborhood.
Caribbean Taste serves a menu of oxtail, curry goat, fried chicken and jerk chicken with a variety of side dishes and daily specials. They’re open Monday through Saturday, noon to 10 pm.
La Fritanga (instagram), the new food truck from the team at Maiz quietly launched on Thursday.
Their menu when we caught up with them on Friday included carimañola, buñuelo, empanada, chicharon con yuca, arepas, and a beet salad. The overall concept for the truck is modeled after the street food carts in Cartagena.
Here’s a look at Pigeons (website, instagram) the new restaurant from Maine & Loire owners Peter and Orenda Hale that opened Wednesday. Pigeons is located in the former Drifters Wife space on Washington Ave.
Pigeons is a day bar (open noon to 6 pm, Wednesday through Saturday) and restaurant serving a menu of French bistro fare (crudite, mussels, bavette steak, nicoise salad, etc), cocktails and natural wines as well as ciders, beers, spritzes and other drinks.
Pigeons has both indoor and outdoor seating.