Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram has published a 3 star review of The Continental.
In practice more gastro than pub, The Continental is a visually appealing neighborhood restaurant and bar that is slowly … very slowly … figuring out what it wants to be. With that uncertainty come growing pains. Some dishes, like dry boxty (Irish potato pancakes) and tragically overfried chicken schnitzel, should probably be revamped or ditched entirely. Others, like crisp, sticky bread pudding; better-than-average lamb shepherd’s pie; and a knockout pub salad with eggs and tangy pickled beets deserve pride of place on this nominally Irish/British menu.
Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a 4 star review of Peng’s Pizza Pies in Biddeford.
The restaurant’s thin-crust pizzas (served with tomato sauce and without) are baked dark, with perhaps more blistering than you’d expect outside of New Haven. If you visit, sample a red pie (cheese or pepperoni – plus or minus hot honey – are great options). But save room for Daniels’ brilliant, completely off-the-wall creation: a white (no tomato), Bangkok-meets-Naples mashup pie featuring crushed pistachios, spicy pickled Fresnos, aromatic herb cream and a generous handful of pecorino. It’s a must-order, as is a slice of Basque cheesecake for dessert.
Photo: from Peng’s opening day, September 20, 2023.
Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a 3 star review of Tacos La Poblanita in Westbrook.
Despite its blemishes, Tacos La Poblanita is OK by me. Too nice, you say? I challenge you to visit the revivifying, seasonal-affective-disorder-annihilating yellow dining room and not feel the tiniest spark of summer joy. But more to the point: Any restaurant that can deliver a spicy fried-shrimp taco, a well-mixed Michelada and appealing, onion-forward guacamole with fresh-from-the-fryer tortilla chips ($4.25 guacamole, $2.50 chips) deserves a little latitude.
The list of semifinalists for the 2024 James Beard Foundation Awards was just released. There are 10 semifinal nominees from Maine:
- Outstanding Restaurateur – Cara Stadler and Cecile Stadler, Bao Bao Dumpling House/Tao Yuan/Zao Ze Cafe and Market in Portland and Brunswick
- Emerging Chef – Joseph Robbins, Bissell Brothers Three Rivers in Milo
- Best New Restaurant – The Alna Store, Alna
- Outstanding Bakery – ZU Bakery, Portland
- Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker – Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery in Portland
- Outstanding Hospitality – Woodford Food & Beverage, Portland
- Best Chef: Northeast – Celia Bruns, Artemisia Cafe; Ian Driscoll, Bar Futo; Valerie Goldman, The Honey Paw; and Jake Stevens, Leeward
The final list of nominees (5 per category) will be released April 3rd, and the awards ceremony will take place on Monday June 10th in Chicago.
The Bollard has published a review of the Ugly Duckling.
As good as the sandwiches were, visiting Ugly Duckling without buying pastries should be at least a misdemeanor. After an appetite-restoring stroll around the block, we poured some coffee and devoured a pastel de nata ($5), a traditional Portuguese custard tart that was light and crisp outside, dense and velvety smooth inside.
Wine Enthusiast has published a Wine Lover’s Guide to Maine. The article also includes recommendations on where to stay and eat.
Wine-centric mentions in the article include: Friends & Family, Maine & Loire, Lorne, Vessel & Vine, Leeward, Helm, Regards, Wayside, George + Leon’s, Table Bar, In a Silent Way, Black Sheep Wine Shop, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Oyster River Wine Growers, and Nina June.
Maine wine lovers (and those planning a visit) should also add Portland Wine Week to their calenders which this year is taking place June 10 – 16.
The Good Food Foundation has released the list of Finalists for their 2024 awards program. Eight Maine food producers are on the Finalists list:
- Allagash for their beer Surf House
- Maine Beer Company for their beer Woods & Waters
- Short Creek Farm for their Poblano Salami
- Bixby Chocolate for their Organic Haiti 70% Dark Chocolate Bar
- 44 North for their Honduras – Honey Process COMSA coffee
- Coffee by Design for their Costa Rica Danilo Salazar Finca San Cristobal Natural coffee
- Speckled Axe for their Guatemala La Bonita and Costa Rica La Guaca Natural coffees
The list of award winners will be announced by the foundation on April 29th at a ceremony in Portland, Oregon. See their Rules & Regulations and FAQ pages for more information on the awards program.
Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a look at twelve bars and restaurants that are set to open next year.
But the batch of new restaurants coming in 2024 helps take the sting out of the losses and will enrich a drinking and dining scene that already feels like a treasure trove. We can look forward to big, bold bars going into Thompson’s Point and Bayside; new brewpubs and daytime cafes in Biddeford; old faves like Brea Lu relaunching in new Westbrook digs; fine dining in far-flung locales; and New York-style slices in the Old Port. If all goes according to plans, expect Cambodian express takeout, a chicken sandwich palace and a cheesesteak mecca.
It also includes restaurant critic Andrew Ross’s picks for the Best of 2023.
Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a 4 star review of Quanto Basta.
Pizza toppings are locally inspired and seasonal, but the true star of each pie is the airy, chewy sourdough crust. When it’s baked to blistered perfection (as it usually is), English’s pizzas are superb. Don’t miss the bright, savory, olive-and-lemon-peel-topped Limone or the remarkably light Pizza Rossa, a vegan pie with an herby, sweet, raw tomato base. Appetizers like raw vegetables with bagna cauda, and lean bresaola topped with greens tossed in an insanely tasty preserved lemon vinaigrette are also worth ordering, especially with a glass of wine from the moderately priced, all-Italian list.
Owner Betsy English launched the Quanto Basta food truck in 2021. The Quanto Basta restaurant is located at 249 Congress Street and opened in July which is when the photos above were taken.
Chocolats Passion (website, facebook, instagram) has won six medals from the 2023 Academy of Chocolate competition in London:
- A gold medal for their Yuzu Nougat
- Four silver medals for their Blueberry Corn, Passion Fruit Vanilla, Prickly Pear Mango and Peppermint
- A bronze medal for their Lime Habanero
A total of six US-based chocolatiers won 16 medals in 2023.
Chocolats Passion recently moved into a new larger space at 175 Spring Street in the West End.