Opinionated About Dining 2020

The 2020 lists from Opinionated About Dining on the top restaurants in the fine dining, cheap eats, heritage and gourmet casual categories are now out.

Here’s a summary of the Maine restaurants in each category:

  • Fine Dining
    • Hugo’s is #16 on the list
  • Cheap Eats
    • Chase’s Daily in Belfast
    • Duckfat
    • Holy Donut
    • Standard Baking
  • Heritage
    • Eventide is #2 on the list
    • Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound is #198 on the list
  • Gourmet Casual
    • Central Provisions is #96 on the list

Reviewing and Retaining

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes an article by Andrew Ross on the factors impacting his decision on when to start reviewing restaurants again,

But I confess, I miss writing about restaurants … maybe even more than I miss eating in them. I miss pulling out my phone and scrolling through photos of the dishes I ate and zooming in to puzzle out what made them succeed (or not). I even miss deciphering the notes I took surreptitiously during a meal. These are typed under the table, so they frequently read as if they were tapped out by someone with 10 thumbs.

and an article about which of the changes brought about by the pandemic are likely to persist after things return to normal.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought a whole menu of changes to Maine’s restaurant industry. Some innovations, like the temporary approval of cocktails to go, have excited both restaurant owners and diners. Others changes, they say, should be 86’d as soon as possible, restaurant lingo for “no longer available.” Here’s our look at some of the adjustments that have been made this spring, and the odds that they’ll stick around after the pandemic is over…

JBF Nominee List Goes Live May 4th

The list of final nominees for this year’s James Beard Foundation awards had been set to be released March 25th but the announcement was delayed due to the pandemic. Now the Beard Foundation now plans to release the nominee list on Monday on May 4th at 4 pm.

To refresh your memory, here’s a link to the 2020 list of JBF award semifinalists from Maine which was published in February.

Review of The Local Press

The Press Herald has reviewed The Local Press.

Turkey is still my go-to deli meat, and if I’m taking the sandwich plunge, lettuce, tomato and mayo aren’t going to do. That’s led me, most often, to the Beacon Street, a turkey panini with avocado, tomato, red onion, hot pepper relish, provolone and mayonnaise for $9.50. At first, the hot pepper relish almost kept me from ordering it, but it ending up being the element that brings it to another level – or, in other words, makes it totally worth it.

Reviews: Anoche, Ada’s, Three of Strong

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Anoche,

If a visit to Basque Country, with its tradition of locally pressed ciders and small-plates-centric snacking appeals to you, Anoche should be on your Portland dining itinerary. Owner/GM Erika Colby’s dimly lit, slightly retro-feeling pintxos restaurant evokes a casual, Iberian bar/restaurant while showcasing more than a dozen New England draft ciders. Ranging from funky and tannic to shimmering with tart fruit, the ciders are (appropriately) the star of the show at Anoche, supported by a line-up of complex, herbal gin-and-tonic cocktails, all of which are made with homemade tonic water.

the Press Herald has reviewed Ada’s, and

I had eaten about half of it when the Funghi Salsiccia was ready. Besides the crimini mushrooms and large, browned pieces of savory pork sausage, it had mozzarella, provolone cheese, parsley, extra virgin olive oil and garlic. There was no red sauce and the crust was thinner and a little crisper than the Margherita. Both were delicious.

the Press Herald has reviewed Three of Strong.

Great place to bring your rum-loving friends. But beware, they don’t sell any spirits other than rum, although they do have mocktails and soda.

Thrillist Eating Guide to Portland

Thrillist has published an eating guide to Portland entitled Everywhere You Need to Eat in Portland, Maine Right Now.

Old-timers might tell you that it’s a shame that Grace or Silly’s are no longer around (and it is), traditionalists might come to the city looking for blueberry pie and fresh catches straight from the sea (of which there are plenty). But to rely too heavily on tradition would run the risk of overlooking the creative and wide-ranging work that’s been done in the city over the past decade or so, not to mention what’s happening right now. So read on and discover the best restaurants in Portland, Maine right now.

Highlighted in the article are: Candy’s, Central Provisions, Cong Tu Bot, Duckfat, Eventide, Fore Street, Hugo’s, Izakaya Minato, Local 188, Mr. Tuna, Rose Foods, Ruski’s, The Holy Donut.

Night Moves, Best Bread Bakeries in America

The Food Network has named Biddeford-based Night Moves Bread (website) to their list of the Best Bread Bakeries in America.

Though baker Kerry Hanney’s bread baking style is rooted in European tradition, the flours she uses are all from Maine-grown grains, particularly rye (Maine has the same growing zone as many European countries associated with rye.). Before opening Night Moves Bread in Bitteford, a coastal town about 25 minutes south of Portland, she made a name for herself with those rye-based loaves. Try the Baltic rye, a slowly fermented sourdough loaf made with 100% rye freshly milled in-house and sprouted rye berries as well as local ingredients such as blackstrap molasses, coffee grounds from Speckled Ax and beer from Banded Brewing Co. For another regional taste, opt for the Anadama, a New England-style cornmeal bread made with nixtamalized corn — Hanney uses buttery, sweet Abenaki flint corn — and black strap molasses. The bread is also served at top restaurants around Portland.

Reviews: Miyake, Dos Naciones

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Miyake, and

Portland’s Miyake has earned a reputation as one of the state’s best Japanese restaurants, thanks in no small part to the skill and creativity of its chef/owner, Masa Miyake.

the Press Herald has reviewed Dos Naciones.

This is another addition to the Portland restaurant scene that seems to be well worth supporting. The owner has said that it has long been her dream to own her own restaurant, and the love and care she puts into the food shows.

2020 Beard Awards Semifinalists

The list of semifinalists for the 2020 James Beard Foundation Awards was released today. There are 11 semifinal nominees from Maine:

  • Best Chef: Northeast – Vien Dobui, Cong Tu Bot; Devin Finigan, Aragosta at Goose Cove; Erin French, The Lost Kitchen; Ben Jackson, Drifters Wife; Krista Kern Desjarlais, The Purple House; Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell, Palace Diner; Ravin Nakjaroen, Long Grain.
  • Outstanding Restaurant – Fore Street
  • Outstanding Chef – Melissa Kelly, Primo
  • Outstanding Baker – Briana Holt, Tandem Coffee
  • Outstanding Bar Program – Novare Res Bier Cafe

The final list of nominees will be released on March 25th, and the awards ceremony will take place on May 4th in Chicago.

Related information: