Wandering in Portland

A website called Wandering Wheatleys has published their list of the 16 Best Restaurants in Portland.

Portland is a city for foodies, with incredible restaurants around every corner that showcase not only traditional Maine cuisine but foods from all over the world. Yes, there’s lobster and oysters and clams, but there are also unique takes on comfort food classics, special spins on a traditional slice of pizza, and some of the best donuts you’ll ever have. Whether you’re craving something Latin-inspired, Japanese, Italian, or simply something that’s mainly from Maine, you’ll find it in Portland!

Owl & Elm Review, Prepared Meal Services

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a review of Owl & Elm in Yarmouth, and

The gochujang-and-passionfruit double whammy in the Take a Walk makes it a wonderful cocktail to pair with food. Try it with the blueberry-and-arugula panzanella (which is really just a satisfying, creamy salad with some crunch) or the brioche-topped duck burger (but ask for the duck egg on the side). While you’re at it, order a basket of house-cut french fries to satisfy all the people at your table who’ll fight you for them. While the food isn’t yet up to snuff, enjoy the atmosphere, which is pure, medical-grade fun and laughter. The menu, I hope, will catch up soon.

an article about the prepared meal services with details on six of them that are available in Maine.

We talked with Ventura and the owners of six Maine-based prepared meal companies about the particulars of their operations (all except one offers delivery) to help you find one that matches your particular needs. Whether you’re health-minded, seeking plant-based options, are a senior with a medical condition, or just a busy family that needs some crowd-pleasing comfort food, there’s a service here that can help.

WaPo & NYT Consult Locals

The Washington Post consulted a “lifetime lobsterman, a food writer and a travel agent” from Maine to select some top lobster rolls in our state.

Whether it be the place where they first enjoyed the delicacy (Pine Tree Frosty in Rangeley for me) or the one that keeps them up at night during the winter pining for summer (Becky’s Diner in Portland), Mainers have spirited debates about who serves the best.

Their picks were: Red’s Eats (Wiscasset), Twelve, Abel’s Lobster (MDI), Highroller Lobster, SoPo Seafood, and Bagaduce Lunch (Penobscot).

Separately, the New York Times consulted four Maine residents for their recommendations on where to stay, shop and eat. Their food recommendations were Smalls, Zu Bakery, J’s Oyster Bar, Dok Mali, Eventide, and Leeward.

Tinder Hearth & Monte’s

The New York Times has included Tinder Hearth in Brooksville in their 2023 list of the 50 restaurants they’re “most excited about right now.”

They bake only 150 pizzas a night, in a wood-burning brick oven, and only four nights a week. And what pizzas they are, built on thin but sturdy 17-inch crusts that have been leavened with wild yeast. The thrill comes from a rotating cast of toppings that might include pork meatballs, chile and garden mint, or confit cherry tomatoes, caramelized onion and ricotta with pops of fresh green coriander and honey.

And, as the Press Herald reports, a recent positive review by Dave Portnoy from Bar Stool Sports has spiked demand for the pizza at Monte’s.

“We’ve been turning away so much business the last few days. We could have doubled or tripled our sales if we had the capacity to keep up with demand,” Quattrucci said, noting that his team has since found ways to boost production.

Review of In a Silent Way

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a four star review of In a Silent Way in Wiscasset.

Co-owners Chandler Sowden and Zack Goodwin have put together a masterful selection of wines served in some of the best glassware you’ll ever encounter, as well as a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-length menu of exquisitely prepared, vegetable-focused small plates. Sip a glass of tart, pale Guy Breton Régnié and order food with abandon. Everything I ate at In a Small Way was a delight, most especially a watermelon salad with peppers, tomato, feta and cilantro, and an exquisitely roasted eggplant in a nearly raw passata of Sungold tomatoes.

There have been a number of changes in the Wiscasset restaurant scene over the last year or so:

  • In late 2022 owners of the now closed Ruby’s West End in Portland opened Back River Bistro at the former location of Little Village Bistro.
  • Longtime mainstay Sarah’s closed earlier this year with the retirement of its namesake owner Sarah Heald. In its place Jodie Roquemore is opening a new rendition of her restaurant Jodie’s Cafe and Bakery.
  • A new raw bar named Jolie Rogers opened earlier this summer. They’re located on the water-facing side of the same building as In a Silent Way.
  • Treats and Water Street Kitchen + Bar remain established favorites in Wiscasset as are Sprague’s and Red’s.
  • Just a short drive away is The Alna Store, a restaurant and market in the small town of Alna.

Bon Appetit Best Dishes

Bon Appetit recently came out with their list of the best new restaurants of the past year. While no Maine restaurants were highlighted this year, dishes from two new restaurants were featured.

The Milk Bread with Brown Butter and Smoked Pecans at Twelve was called out in BA’s article on “The Absolute Best Dishes We Ate at New Restaurants This Year“.

And, the Lemon Meringue Kakigori at Bar Futo was selected for their list of “The Most Delightful Desserts We Ate at New Restaurants This Year“.

Wine Enthusiast: Best Wine Shops

Wine Enthusiast has included Vessel & Vine (instagram) and Maine & Loire (instagram) on their list of The Best Wine Shops of 2023.

Our 2023 shops are information hubs and community centers. They open windows into local wine regions, introducing consumers to the ferments happening in their own backyards. These shops help tell America’s wine story as it is today—one that celebrates new varieties, new approaches to winemaking and a diverse maker space.

Today’s shops don’t only sell wine, either. They’re expanding notions of where wine fits into our lives, with many shops offering cider, sake, bread, cheese, coffee and books. They’re also crafting thriving communities, paving the way for a new kind of wine culture.

The article was written by Portland area wine professional and journalist Margot Mazur (instagram).

Review of Dara Bistro

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a four star review of Dara Bistro in Cumberland.

…Dara Bistro is a cozy, under-the-radar treasure in Cumberland. Chef/owner Bryan Dame has been preparing buzzworthy breakfasts, brunches and lunches in the space since 2017, but it wasn’t until last summer that he began serving a dinner menu inspired by New England, European bistro cooking and Southern food. The combo works delightfully…Absolutely worth a drive.

Rising Star Costal New England Awards

StarChefs has released their list of Rising Stars in the Costal New England region.

In New England, cold, snowed-in nights turn into long, sunny beach days. In our over 100 editorial visits across Rhode Island, Maine, and the Massachusetts Islands, we found a group of industry professionals defying the odds of seasonality, embracing the unique challenges of an economy that burns hotter than the summer sun, and understanding how to keep themselves and their teams stimulated and engaged in the winter months. There is a serious focus on agriculture, aquaculture, as well as innovations in showcasing what is fished and farmed locally. From the Narragansett to the Casco, StarChefs is proud to welcome in our newest class of Rising Stars. 

A number of Portland area chefs, restaurateurs and bartenders are on the list. Congratulations to all the honorees:

Read more about the Rising Star Awards Program on the starchefs.com website.

Lobster Rolls & Spirits

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes an article comparing the cross-road Wiscasset lobster roll options of Red’s and Sprague’s, and

From my perspective, differences between the two are slight. Sprague’s roll is a little brinier, and its buns a little less substantial, while Red’s seems to use more butter (Kate’s Butter) and hand-tears meat into larger pieces. Both are so enormous that they need to be wrapped to maintain the pretense of structural integrity. On the strength of lobster rolls alone, the two are tied. Either would be a good choice for a hungry adult who wants full autonomy over how their roll is dressed.

an article about Tree Spirits, a winery/distillery in Oakland.

Being a state where agriculture flourishes, Maine has witnessed recent growth in wineries that utilize a wide range of fresh produce to make wines and other spirits.

[Owner Bruce] Olson said he and his wife go through meticulous processes to produce the 15 items on their menu, including wines, brandies and absinthe, an anise-flavored spirit derived from several plants.