Q&A with CarHop’s Thomas Brems

Mainebiz has published an interview with CarHop founder Thomas Brems.

MB: How does your business model work?
TB: We have an app and a website we collect requests through. We purchase everything from the restaurant or retailer at full retail price. There’s no contractual relationship with any restaurant or retailer. One thing that’s important to us is that we don’t work with a company that doesn’t want to be listed through us. We respect their consent.

The 2021 Year In Review: Pandemic, Food Trucks, Openings, Closings, Etc.

It’s been another busy and challenging year. Here’s an attempt to provide a high level overview of the 2021 year in food:

  • Covid-19 – the pandemic continued to have a big impact on all our lives. With surge in cases that bookended the year in Maine and a peak in the spring Covid-19 continued to have a ripple effect across the industry from outdoor dining in the depths of winter to supply chain issues to a challenging labor market. Vaccines improved conditions during the summer but the delta and omicron variants have driven up case numbers and hospitalizations resulting in customers becoming more cautious and less numerous as we head into winter. A small number of restaurants have implemented their own proof of vaccination policies and in late December a petition is began circulating among Portland restaurants that calls on the City Council to make that a city-wide approach for indoor dining. Despite all the headwinds, new food business projects continue to get launched—a sign that food entrepreneurs feel a sense  of hope and optimism about what’s to come in 2022.
  • Food Truck Boom – Food truck launches continued to surge in 2021. The Press Herald, Mainebiz, Maine Public, Bangor Daily News all wrote and discussed this trend. At one point this past summer there were almost 50 trucks on the streets or under development in Portland. Over the past decade, many businesses that started as food trucks have transitioned into brick and mortar businesses. It will be interesting to see if that’s also the case with this new set of mobile food entrepreneurs.
  • Knightville – There always seems to be some section of town which is a focal point for new restaurant development. In 2021 that new bright spot has been the Knightville neighborhood in South Portland. SoPo Seafood, BenReuben’s Knishery, Cafe Louis opened and Taco Trio moved to new digs. They all joined the Knightville veterans like Smaha’s Legion square Market, The Bridgeway, The Snow Squall, Verbena’s, Cia Coffee and relatively recent opening by Solo Cucina, Judy Gibson, and Foulmouthed Brewing. The former Taco Trio space is now vacant and there are other store fronts that may come on the market so we’re likely to see more growth here into 2022.
  • John Woods – John Woods passed away at the age of 57. Woods was a co-founder of Full Plates Full Potential and was tireless fighter in the battle against childhood hunger in Maine. His work touched the lives of so many people and made Maine a better place. In his memory Full Plates established the John T. Woods Innovation Fund.
  • Upcoming in 2022 – For the full list of new food businesses under development see PFM Under Construction list. Here are some of the current highlights:
    • Bread and Friends – a brick and mortar bakery/cafe being launched by a pair of couples who moved here from the Bay Area. In 2021 they started selling wholesale and at some local farmers’ markets. B&F will be located at 505 Fore Street and is slated to open in late summer.
    • Dila’s Kitchen – a Turkish eatery located on the second floor of the Public Market House. Watch for them to launch in early 2022.
    • Hi-Fidelity Beer – a low ABV brewery  and community space in East Bayside.
    • Lenora – a taco bar focusing on Mexican-inspired street food being launched by partners from from Lone Star Taco Bar and Deep Ellum in Boston. Watch for them to launch in early summer.
    • Twelve – located in the reconstructed Pattern Storehouse from the Portland Company Complex, Twelve will feature the culinary talents of Matt Ginn and Colin Wyatt.
    • TBD – Gin & Luck (the parent company of Death & Co.) is opening an as yet unnamed restaurant and bar in the Danforth Street location formerly occupied by Little Giant.
    • Wicked Fresco – a food truck that was originally slated to open this past summer. Wicked Fresco co-owners Camila Sohm and Eric Mendoza plan to tap into their Colombian and Salvadoran food cultures and Maine seasonal ingredients to serve a menu of sweet and savory salads as well as sides and hand-crafted sodas.
    • Zu Baker – a neighborhood boulangerie in the West End being launched by Barak Olins this spring.

There are also several other exciting new projects that are currently under wraps but will go public soon. Check back later this year for details.

Top 10 Articles

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

  1. Valentine’s Day List (February 6th)
  2. Vy Banh Mi food truck (January 20th)
  3. Stacks Pancake Company (April 19th)
  4. Lucky Pigeon gluten-free brewery (January 21st)
  5. Apres in East Bayside (April 19th)
  6. Luna and Salt Yard (March 11th)
  7. Jackrabbit Cafe (March 31st)
  8. BenReuben’s Knishery (March 11th)
  9. Wayside Tavern (April 22nd)
  10. Launch of Truckalico (March 14th)

Notable Events of 2021

Passings

For additional perspectives on the past year in food see the Maine Sunday Telegram A to Z annual round-up, and their restaurant critic’s list of the Best of 2021.

This is the 12th year running that Portland Food Map has published a year in review article. Take a walk down memory lane by checking out these past editions that covered 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

Mimi Weissenborn at Sur Lie

Mimi Weissenborn (instagram) has joined the Sur Lie team as their new executive chef. According to the press release,

A native Maryland crab, Shef studied at L’Academie de Cuisine and promptly decided to pursue a culinary career in New York City as a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Working her way up the line she finally chose to settle with Vinateria, the beloved Spanish and Italian influenced Harlem eatery, as their Creative Director and later on Executive Chef. There she received a Michelin recommendation, participated in multiple chef collaborations such as New York City Food & Wine Festival, Harlem Eat Up and a gamut of James Beard Foundation dinners headlining and selling out one of her very own; most recently collaborating on an International Women’s Day Dinner. Energized by her new found sense of community she was inspired to honor her own by hosting a female collaboration dinner series highlighting a local cast of Harlem hitters!

With the addition of Weissenborn to the Sur Lie team, the restaurant has led by an all-female management team.

My Kitchen Their Table: Jake and Raquel Stevens

Welcome to the December edition of My Kitchen, Their Table, an interview series with the chefs and culinary professionals who work hard to satisfy our small city’s big appetite. This month we’re featuring an interview with Jake and Raquel Stevens from Leeward. Photos and videos will continue to expand on the story throughout the rest of the month on instagram, so stay tuned.


In their early teen years, Jake and Raquel Stevens began working in restaurants on opposite sides of the country. Jake washed dishes, bussed tables, and ran food at The Spaghetti Factory in Portland, Oregon. Meanwhile, Raquel poured soda at her godparent’s clam shack in New London, Connecticut. “I was very good at telling the subtle difference between Diet Coke, Coke, and root beer by sight alone,” she jokes.

Raquel fell hard for the adrenaline of the restaurant industry while bouncing from one buzzing clam shack to another, always working front-of-the-house. Jake took a liking to back-of-the-house when he filled in for a no-show line cook. He enjoyed cooking so much that he dropped out of college and transferred to the former Scottsdale Culinary Institute, now closed.

After a stint in the Caribbean and roaming California with a band, Raquel moved to Portland, Oregon, where she and Jake’s fates aligned. The two met while working at Chef Jenn Louis’ nationally recognized restaurant, Lincoln, now closed. “That was the first restaurant I worked at where I realized restaurants could be beautiful, serious, and create lovely food,” Raquel explains.

The duo then moved to Los Angeles and worked at The Tasting Kitchen, where Raquel learned about obscure wine varietals and Jake discovered a passion for handmade pasta. Eventually, they returned to Portland, Oregon, where Jake served as chef de cuisine at Beast, now Ripe Cooperative, and Raquel refined her knowledge of classic French wines at Laurelhurst Market.

In July 2017, Jake and Raquel left one Portland for another. Maine reminded them of their favorite parts of the Pacific Northwest. The Forest City offered a slower pace of life and a better opportunity to open a restaurant. Their transition to restaurant owners was slow and strategic. For three years, Raquel expanded her wine education at Drifters Wife, and Jake gained experience with East coast seafood as the sous chef at Eventide. “We felt it was important to engrain ourselves into the food culture here and get to know people in the industry. We didn’t want to just come in and railroad our own concept,” Jake explains.

Leeward debuted in September 2018 when the Stevens held their first pop-up dinner at The Honey Paw.  After three more successful pop-ups, they leased space on a stretch of Free Street that is notoriously windy. (Ironically, leeward means “sheltered from the wind” in its nautical context). On March 12, 2020, Jake and Raquel opened the doors to 85 Free Street but announced the closure of their dining room in response to COVID-19 later that week.

Leeward weathered the pandemic like so many others by offering creative takeout options and outdoor dining on a freshly built patio during the warmer months. Finally, in summer 2021, Jake and Raquel welcomed guests once again to dine indoors. Leeward’s outstanding handmade pasta and intriguing wine list have received well-deserved praise from locals and tourists alike and others in the industry, such as Cara Stadler, Brain Catapang, and Kelly Nelson.

Continue reading to find out which pasta dish Jake “can’t take off the menu,” which wine region Raquel is loving most right now, their favorite takeout spots in Portland, and who they believe makes the “best pizza in Maine.”

THE INTERVIEW

AA: Why do you think Portland, Maine is such a fantastic restaurant city?
JS: Its proximity to bigger cities easily allows for the exchange of ideas and talented industry professionals from larger markets. That coupled with access to amazing local produce and proteins creates a food city that punches above its weight class.

AA: Who has played a vital role in your journey to restaurant ownership?
JS: Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley from Eventide helped us out a lot. I got hired there even though they knew we had the intention of opening our own restaurant. They allowed us to do our pop-ups at The Honey Paw on Tuesdays when they were closed. They were also an invaluable resource and would answer any of our questions regarding business ownership, permitting, paperwork, and taxes. Andrew is still on speed dial for when I need unpaid restaurant consultation.

Our sous chef, Colin Kennedy, and pastry chef, Kate Hamm, have been with us since the beginning. We also had an opening sous chef, Jake Robins, who was here for a few months before returning home. He was hugely helpful in getting this place open — everything from recipe testing to driving to New Hampshire with me to pick up used kitchen equipment. And, of course, everyone that came to our pop-ups and contributed to our Kickstarter.

AA: Raquel, who has had the biggest impact on your wine career?
RS: Kristen Koors, the wine director at Laurelhurst Market, was really instrumental in teaching me about lower intervention wines and a lot of the classics from France. She took me under her wing and helped set me on the path I am on now. Also, Peter and Orenda Hale from Maine & Loire were huge in helping me learn about the natural wine world.

AA: What are your favorite dishes at Leeward?
JS: Our menu changes all the time. In the summertime, I was really excited about the fresh corn polenta. We use Pineland Farms corn and box grate it. We saute all the juices and chunks in butter and add corn cob stock. The starches start to gel, and it sets up like polenta. Then we put a slab of Taleggio cheese on top and melt it in the oven.

The mafaldine is a customer favorite. It’s the one pasta that doesn’t come off the menu. We extrude the mafaldine in-house. For the bolognese, we use grass-fed beef that is ground in house, cured pork, celery, carrot, onion, garlic, Chile de Árbol, bay leaf, housemade tomato paste, pork stock, white wine, and milk that is steeped with Parmigiano Reggiano rinds. Then we toss it all together with some sort of bitter green, like dandelion or escarole, and finish it with a little butter and Parmigiano Reggiano.

AA: What are your favorite wines at Leeward?
RS: Lately, I’ve been captivated by Italy in general, but Piemonte especially. It was a region I wrote off for a long time, but the more I delve into it, the more I learn about producers that are making beautiful, honest, and sometimes unexpected expressions of native grapes in the region.

G.D. Vajra Claré J.C. Langhe Nebbiolo 2020 – This wine is made in a way that harkens back to a time before Barolo was a known region. It’s a lighter expression, partially carbonic, and very chillable, but it still has the floral quality and pencil shavings of Nebbiolo. It’s not what you think of when you think of Nebbiolo, but not so esoteric that you can’t enjoy it.

Scarpa Pelaverga Verduno 2020 – This is also from the Barolo region. It’s the producer’s first vintage of Pelaverga. Peleverga is a native grape, and very little is planted. It’s often planted in between rows and, I believe, used to pacify winemakers as they’re waiting for the Barolo to mature. It’s a light-bodied red with a ton of aromatics similar to amaro. It sort of smells like the forest on a hot day.

Giulia Negri La Tartufaia Barolo 2016 – This wine is made by a brazen young woman who took over her father’s estate. She’s known as “Barolo Girl.” It has the most finesse I’ve ever tasted in a Barolo. She does a long and slow maceration and fermentation, so she’s getting the power from the grape, but in a controlled manner. She’s tempered the boldness.

AA: What are some of your favorite dishes in Portland?
JS: Crispy Gai fried chicken is awesome. I like his crispy waterfall salad too.
RS: They’ve toed this line where it’s really fun and approachable, but it doesn’t feel kitschy.
JS: We also like the drinks at Cocktail Mary and the lamb tartare at Judy Gibson.

AA: What are some of your favorites outside of Portland?
JS: We really love the pizza at Oxbow Beer Garden in Oxford. I think it’s the best pizza in Maine. The ‘Nduja pizza is awesome.
RS: We eat that a lot in winter. We cross country ski then hang out in the beer garden. We waited an hour for that pizza one day, and it was worth it. The fried artichokes are really good too.
JS: Also, the cheese balls at Lorne Wine in Biddeford. They’re like the cheese balls you buy at Staples in the big round tub.
RS: Cheese balls pair remarkably well with nearly any kind of wine. Lorne also serves North Haven Oysters by Adam Campbell. We got to visit his oyster beds a couple of years ago. It looks like they’re just growing in their natural habitat. He doesn’t use cages. The oysters are bottom-cultured.

AA: What do you think is one of the most underrated restaurants in Portland?
JS: I like Bahn Appetit a lot. I wouldn’t say they are underrated but maybe overlooked.
RS: Everyone should go there and try a Bahn mi sandwich. It’s the perfect baguette, and the bread to filling ratio is just right.

AA: What do you recommend for takeout?
JS: The shrimp lettuce wraps at Mr. Tuna.
RS: And Ben Rueben’s Knishery is tasty. His knishes are creative, and the rugelach is excellent. We usually sit on the sidewalk, cover ourselves in crumbs, and then go back inside for more.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

A few notes on the restaurants mentioned in this article: Drifters Wife went out of business in July 2020, Eventide, Crispy Gai, Mr. Tuna, Cocktail Mary, Maine & Loire, Judy Gibson, Lorne Wine and The Honey Paw are open for indoor drinking and/or dining,  Oxbow Beer Garden has outdoor seating, Bahn Appetite and Ben Reuben’s Knishery are open for takeout.

Previous editions of My Kitchen Their Table have featured Courtney Loreg, Chad Conley  Atsuko Fujimoto, Matt Ginn, Jordan Rubin, Cara Stadler, Thomas Takashi Cooke, Ilma Lopez, Bowman Brown, Brian Catapang, Kelly Nelson, and Lee Farrington & Bryna Gootkind.

The My Kitchen Their Table series is brought to life through the talent and hard work of food writer Angela Andre, and the generous sponsorship by Evergreen Credit Union and The Boulos Company.

Photo Credit: Nicole Wolf Photography

Wiley Departs Big Tree

The Press Herald has a report on partner Mike Wiley‘s departure from Big Tree Hospitality.

Wiley, who will leave Big Tree at the end of the year, said he has not yet planned his next move, although he does not expect to run a restaurant. Andrew Taylor and Arlin Smith, the remaining Big Tree founding partners, will continue to operate the company, and Taylor said that while Wiley will be greatly missed, customers will not notice any major changes.

Final Column by Meredith Goad

Retiring food reporter Meredith Goad has shared her final thoughts on the Portland food scene and her career writing about it in an article in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram.

I started working the food beat at the Portland Press Herald sometime between 2004 and 2005, just after Sam Hayward won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northeast, a first for Maine. I didn’t know it at the time, but the food scene in Portland was like a rocket smoking on the launch pad, ready to take off. For me? Lucky timing.

Interview with Jordan Rubin

Joe Ricchio has interviewed Jordan Rubin (aka Mr. Tuna) for the latest episode of Food Coma Maine.

Why are you sharpening them? Why are you assuming you should drown the fish in the soy sauce? I discuss this, and plenty of other important issues, with Jordan Rubin aka Mr. Tuna. Do you like Mochi? How do you feel about the Mandalorian? Do you really need a $10,000 knife? You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Enjoy. 

Meredith Goad Retiring from Press Herald

Food and dining reporter Meredith Goad has announced plans to retire from the Portland Press Herald bringing to close a 33-year career with the newspaper.

Goad made the decision to leave the paper and return to her home state of Tennessee to spend time with family and especially to help take care of her elderly mother. While she’ll be missing friends and life in Maine, she’s looking forward to a life without deadlines and the chance to read a book or two.

Her last articles will appear in the paper in December including a farewell piece from her to the Maine community. An online Newsroom Live event is also being planned so Meredith can say goodbye and answer questions.

Goad has played a central role in reporting on the Portland and Maine food scene. She began covering the restaurant ‘beat’ at an auspicious time—just when Sam Hayward won his James Beard Award in 2004—and has been a witness and reporter on the city’s growing reputation ever since. She’s broken stories, added perspective and contributed greatly to keeping us all informed about the wonderful food and dining scene we all get to enjoy. One of my favorite Meredith articles was one she co-authored with Mary Pols that delved into the origins of farm to table movement in Maine. Written seven years ago, it still is a great introduction to anyone asking why Portland has become a dining destination.

The Press Herald has opened a search to find a new food and dining reporter for the paper. The paper “seeks an outstanding journalist to cover the world-class food and restaurant scene” in Maine. Here’s a little more of the official job posting on journalismjobs.com,

This is not a job for a rookie. Successful candidates will have several years of daily news experience and be able to submit clips that demonstrate experience not just in writing about food but in reporting business stories and working with public records requests. We care as much about health inspections as we do recipes, as much about how pandemic relief money is spent as we do about what ingredients our chefs are using. We need a reporter who is aggressive but not arrogant, who is confident but works collaboratively with editors and colleagues. And this is not a desk job – you’ll spend time on local farms and in our famed Old Port, getting to know restaurateurs, making connections with servers and diners.

My Kitchen Your Table: Lee Farrington and Bryna Gootkind

Welcome to the November edition of My Kitchen, Their Table, an interview series with the chefs and culinary professionals who work hard to satisfy our small city’s big appetite. This month we’re featuring an interview with Lee Farrington and Bryna Gootkind from LB Kitchen. Photos and videos will continue to expand on the story throughout the rest of the month on instagram, so stay tuned.


Lunch and breakfast. Life and business. Lee and Bryna. The ‘LB’ in LB Kitchen has many meanings. Lee Farrington and Bryna Gootkind, partners in both life and business, opened the daytime eatery in 2017. The two met five years prior, just before Lee closed her former restaurant Figa. She listed the space for rent, but there was a part of her that wasn’t ready to let it go. On the way to the third meeting with a potential tenant, she looked at Bryna and said, “If they’re not going to take the space, I want you to shake my hand, and then let’s open something.” Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

The partnership was a recipe for success. Bryna had the business experience while Lee had the kitchen experience. Lee went to culinary school at The International Culinary Center (ICC), formerly The French Culinary Institute, and then spent a decade cooking in prestigious kitchens throughout New York City. She perfected her craft at Balthazar, Tabla, and al di la Trattoria. Bryna also lived in New York City, though the two didn’t know each other then. She was a band manager for ten years before a career change to the natural foods industry. Bryna’s knowledge of single-origin superfoods largely influenced LB Kitchen’s “healthy-ish” menu — think blue-hued chai lattes made with spirulina and gluten-free pancakes laced with turmeric, cardamom, and ginger topped with grass-fed butter and real maple syrup.

On February 21, 2020, LB Kitchen turned three — right before the city went on lockdown. Lee and Bryna didn’t waste time though. They quickly transitioned to takeout and even launched a special menu called LB x Home. The new menu was a deconstructed version of their best dishes and offered everything from pints of bone broth and miso slaw to smoothie kits and raw cookie dough.

However, LB’s second location remained empty for months. In May 2020, Lee and Bryna announced the permanent closure of the West End location only ten months after its debut. What appeared to be a huge setback at first turned out to be a blessing in disguise. “We were back in our original location with our core group of people and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more secure. The pandemic was eye-opening in terms of the direction we wanted to go,” Lee explains.

With a clear vision of their business model and brand, LB Kitchen introduced a fresh new logo in November. The new logo is more graphic, less bowl-centric, as they transition away from a traditional restaurant model and into a lifestyle brand. “It feels like we’re going somewhere, even if we continue operating this way for years to come. It feels like our brand has progressed,” Bryna explains. LB Kitchen is currently open for takeout, limited patio dining, and delivery via CarHop, 2DineIn, and DoorDash. You can order online from the regular menu as well as “market” items like house made ferments, sauces, spreads, and other prepared items.

Continue reading to learn more about how Lee and Bryna’s food philosophies clashed at first, the secret ingredient in Lee’s famous wild boar dish, which Scarborough restaurant they’re ordering takeout from nearly every week, and where they go in Portland to celebrate special occasions.

THE INTERVIEW

AA: Lee, what was it like being the daughter of a Pan American airline pilot?
LF: I grew up in Kentucky, but was well-traveled starting at a young age. I was exposed to things that most people still aren’t even exposed to. I got to travel and taste other cuisines. The trip that changed my life was to France and Spain when I was fifteen years old. Having Mediterranean seafood on the coast of Spain was completely mind-blowing and being in Paris trying escargot for the first time was a game-changer. I knew then that I wanted to do something with food.

AA: How did your food philosophies differ prior to your partnership?
LF: It took a couple of years for us to get on the same page. (Before our relationship), I had a lot of meat and potatoes in my life. Then I dropped red meat and got rid of gluten. We started eating a ton of seafood, which is now my favorite food. It was different and enjoyable, but I also lost a lot of weight and just felt better.

AA: How did you come up with the concept for LB Kitchen?
BG: I don’t think either of us ever had this pipe dream of opening a health food restaurant. We didn’t want to put ourselves in a box or category that was limiting. The concept was born out of Lee and I as a couple and at a time and place in our lives. It’s something we are still so grateful for and oftentimes even still surprised by how much people are into it.

AA: How is LB Kitchen transitioning away from the traditional restaurant model?
BG: We decided to take the banquettes out of the dining area because they take up a lot of space. The difference between having twenty-one seats versus limitless pick-up is significant. The next phase includes constructional changes like redoing the facade, moving the door, adding sliding windows, and refining our operations inside.

AA: What are your favorite dishes at LB Kitchen?
LF: I used to do a wild boar dish at Figa that I carried over to LB Kitchen. It’s wild boar shoulder braised in a tomato-based sauce made with over twenty spices and served with coconut rice. My hidden weapon is jaggery. It’s concentrated sugar cane. It has a citrusy sweetness that is completely different from, say, brown sugar.
BG: Hands down for me it would be the avocado toast with our smoked African spice blend and truffle oil on Standard Baking Co. five-grain sourdough bread. It’s been on the menu since we opened. We’d eat it at home and be like, “We need to put this on the menu.” No one was serving avocado toast back then. You can also have it on our homemade gluten-free bread.

AA: Do you ever indulge in sweets?
LF: I have a big sweet tooth. One of my all-time favorite desserts is the chocolate tofu pie at Green Elephant. It’s absolutely freaking incredible!

AA: What are your go-to restaurants?
LF: Evo is in my top three. The chickpea fries and hummus are phenomenal. We’ve gone to a bunch of wine dinners there too. Kelly Nelson did an incredible job (selecting the wines). Also, Pai Men Miyake. When we first got together, we must have eaten there at least two times a week because we had to have the daikon carrot salad, Brussels sprouts, and tofu buns.

AA: Where do you go for takeout?
LF: Sushi is our weekly treat. We live in Scarborough now and there’s an amazing place on Route 1 called Kirin.
BG: Takeout is hard! A lot of food is meant to be experienced at a restaurant, but sushi is always good. Kirin’s tuna tataki is incredible. It’s seared, smoky, and spicy. It feels decadent for Scarborough. Also, the ratio of fish to rice is perfect. You don’t want too much of either.
LF: If we’re in Portland, we’re going to Mr. Tuna. Jordan Rubin is so talented. I’ve honestly contemplated asking him if I can see how he butchers fish just to hone my own skills.

AA: Where have you had an exceptional dining experience?
BG: We love David’s Opus Ten. They do an incredible job with small bites and pairings. That’s how I love to dine; a long meal, lots of bites, and lots of wine. We went there the day we got engaged.
LF: And Back Bay Grill! We did our baby’s gender reveal there. Larry Matthews is the salt of the earth. He is a very warm and genuine person. I always get the foie gras. Bryna loves the salmon dish and their Caesar salad.
BG: Also, Drifter’s Wife was another one of our favorite special occasions spots.

AA: Why do you think Portland is such a great restaurant city?
BG: The amazing thing about Portland, and Maine in general, is that there is someone nailing every category of food or cuisine. For example, Krista Desjarlais makes an incredible bagel — and a number of other things.
LF: There are a lot of talented people here. And the camaraderie of chefs in this town surpasses anything I’ve ever known in my life and I’ve worked in kitchens all over the place.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

A few notes on the restaurants mentioned in this article: the Back Bay Grill is open for on site dining, Green Elephant, Evo Kitchen + Bar, Mr. Tuna, Kirin, and Pai Men Miyake are open for on site and takeout. David’s Opus Ten is closed indefinitely and Drifters Wife is no longer in business.

Previous editions of My Kitchen Their Table have featured Courtney Loreg, Chad Conley  Atsuko Fujimoto, Matt Ginn, Jordan Rubin, Cara Stadler, Thomas Takashi Cooke, Ilma Lopez, Bowman Brown, Brian Catapang, and Kelly Nelson.

The My Kitchen Their Table series is brought to life through the talent and hard work of food writer Angela Andre, and the generous sponsorship by Evergreen Credit Union and The Boulos Company.

Falafel Time on Forest Ave

The Portland Phoenix has published an article about the new Forest Ave restaurant Falafel Time and its owner Qutaiba Hassoon and the growing restaurant community along Forest Ave.

To observe the operations at Falafel Time feels like a trip into their family’s kitchen. Hassoon’s mother, Anaam Jabbir, helps run the operation with Hassoon and Saeed. Other family members are among the employees, and they speak mainly in Arabic, working quickly to fill orders.

“I’m proud of him,” Saeed said of his son moments after tossing a pizza in the oven. “He’s always worked under someone and now he’s in charge. Owning a restaurant is hard work, but he’s good at customer service and wants to take care of the customers.”