Review of Nura

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Nura,

…chef Dylan Gardner assembles nuanced, sub-$15 salads that showcase bitter greens, shaved watermelon radish and mint leaves along with the restaurant’s signature falafel – toasty outside and vivid green from cilantro and parsley inside. Here, you’ll also find excellent chicken shawarma sandwiches and bowls, spice-dusted French fries, and our favorite dish on the menu: Nura’s airy, garlicky, newly re-imagined hummus…Nura might represent the best bang-for-your-buck in Portland dining right now. Get there before the tourists and returning office workers do.

Andrew Zimmern’s Portland List

Andrew Zimmern has shared a round-up of his favorite Portland food spots on his substack email newsletter site, Spilled Milk.

It’s the pearl of New England. Great food, an incredible art scene, a small-town vibe with big-city amenities. My dad, who passed away in 2015, called Portland home for the last 10 years of his life. I’d spend a lot of time visiting him and my stepdad Andre Laporte, and through their eyes I watched the city transform into the food destination it is today.

Mentioned in the article: Tandem, Standard, The Holy Donut, The Porthole, Becky’s, Duckfat, Fore Street, Eventide, Crown Jewel, Boda, Terlingua, Slab, Via Vecchia, Pai Men, Scales, Chaval and Gorgeous Gelato.

CN Traveler: Biddeford

CN Traveler has published an article highlighting the up and coming culinary destination of Biddeford.

Every year, a crush of humanity arrives in Maine for one of three things: the ocean, lakes, or mountains. Biddeford, a former textile mill town that sat quiet for decades until recently, has none of the above. What it now has, instead, is oceans of talent and mountains of collaboration—a swell of creative energy that’s beginning to rival the allure of Portland, as well as Maine’s other seasonally congested coastal front towns.

The article mentions: Rabelais, Elements, Banded Brewing, Roundturn, Lorne, Palace Diner, Elda, Jackrabbit, Time & Tide, Nibblesford, Fish & Whistle, Four Star Fresh, Atlantic Sea Farms, Big Tree, Sweet Cream, Reilly’s Bakery, and Batson River.

In April Food & Wine named Biddeford one of America’s Next Great Food Cities.

Review Round-up: Helm, Gross, Corazon, Norimoto, Jefe Juan’s

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Helm,

Helm is worth a visit, especially if you order stupidly rich chicken liver mousse with toasted triangles of homemade brioche and a sweet-spicy Blueberries for Sal cocktail. Sip as you admire the swanky, yet comfortable, award-winning dining room. As a harbinger of what’s in the forecast for Portland’s eternally under-construction Eastern waterfront district, Helm Oyster Bar & Bistro is exactly the Sailor’s Delight we’d hope to see.

Mainer has reviewed Gross Confection Bar,

Though our sobriety didn’t allow us to overindulge in the bourbon sabayon of the chocolate-and-caramel torte, its smoky taste perfectly balanced the syrupy Amarena cherries and the bitterness of the chocolate. Add a little rye-hazelnut crunch and it was #noregrets for our extravagance. We took the opportunity to walk it off back to our home in the West End, not feeling gross at all, just happy.

the Press Herald has reviewed Norimoto,

What separates Fujimoto from the pack is her ability to meld classic European pastries and baked goods with Asian flavorings in a seamless package greater than the sum of its parts.

the Press Herald has reviewed Jefe Juan’s, and

Lively atmosphere, specializing in tequila and local beers with several specialty cocktails. Small, reasonably priced food menu featuring Mexican specialties such as burritos. Loud music and great people watching on Wharf Street.

The Press Herald has reviewed Casita Corazon, the new SoPo location of El Corazon in Longfellow Square.

Though the song brought me to the new Casita Corazon, which opened in April, the food will bring me back there. Everything we ordered on a recent Saturday night was fresh and flavorful, and delightfully different than other Mexican food I’ve had. That said, I’m not very adventurous, so I mostly stick to tacos and burritos.

Tales of the Cocktail

The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club is an honoree in the Best Cocktail Bar (East Coast) category as part of the 16th Annual Spirit Awards.

The Spirit Awards are organized each year by the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. The awards ceremony will take place on July 28th.

Since its founding in 2007, the Spirited Awards has become one of the industry’s most sought-after awards, recognizing beverage professionals, products, establishments, journalists, and media across every facet of the spirits and cocktail community on a global scale. The award categories spotlight a range of talent from bartenders, journalists, and brand ambassadors, to brands and media, to ensure each aspect of the industry is well represented and recognized for its contributions.

Dinner Mates, Leeward Review

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes an article about Dinner Mates,

Just the concept of gathering inside a restaurant with a dozen or so folks you may not have met yet for a leisurely dinner fueled by vibrant conversation and fine wine seems so retro right now, so pre-2020. After living in relative isolation for two pandemic years, many at the Dinner Mates tables at Ruby’s in early April said the new club has come into their lives at just the right time.

and a review of Leeward—the first Sunday Telegram review published since March 2020.

Conceptually, Leeward fits right in with its fellow finalists for this year’s James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant. Chef Jake Stevens’ pasta-centric, eclectic Italian menu has some over-seasoning kinks to work out, but the kitchen’s strengths are on full display in dishes like sticky pork ribs sprinkled with nutty toasted flax seeds and a creamier take on Green Goddess dressing that I’d happily eat on any vegetable…Cocktails and moderately priced wines (most bottles clock in at around the mid-$50s) are also must-try items, especially the smoky, yet phenomenally balanced Italian on Holiday…Front-of-house manager Raquel Stevens leads the bar team as well as the friendly, knowledgeable servers who seem to love the place as much as locals and tourists do…

Next Great: Biddeford

Food & Wine has included Biddeford in its list of America’s Next Great Food Cities.

It’s an exciting time for food in America. The culinary landscape in cities big and small around the country has matured exponentially in the past two decades, a shift that has been thrilling to experience and to taste. The immense challenges of the last two years in particular have seen many chefs, restaurateurs, and makers leave bigger urban centers and return to their smaller home cities. This returning talent, plus a new generation of entrepreneurs, are spurring a burst of creativity, innovation and deliciousness in under-the-radar destinations all over the country. It is these destinations that make up Food & Wine’s inaugural list of the next great food cities: the seven most exciting big cities, plus four smaller towns with populations less than 60,000 that have big food scenes.

Called out in the article are: Magnus on Water, Night Moves, Jackrabbit, Elda, Rabelais, Palace, Lorne Wine.

Erin French, Reviews Return

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes an article about Erin French, the chef/owner of The Lost Kitchen in Freedom,

Longtime Freedom resident Wilson Hess said that French’s passion for her multifaceted role at The Lost Kitchen and her charming hospitality is the restaurant’s secret sauce. “She’s a gracious personality and a wonderful storyteller,” said Hess, who has dined at The Lost Kitchen. “Everyone in the room feels like they’re at home when they’re there.”

and an announcement by restaurant critic Andrew Ross about the upcoming return of restaurant reviews to the newspaper and insight into the ways his approach will differ from pre-pandemic days.

If you haven’t worked it out yet, be patient, reader: Please remain seated and keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times – we’re about to start reviewing again.

As I gear up for a return to thinking critically about restaurant dining, I’ve also been realizing how different writing a full review will be. It’s pure denial to insist that our world is normal again, so why should we expect our food writing to be the same as it once was?

2022 Beard Awards Nominees

The James Beard Foundation has announced the nominees for this year’s Beard Awards. 10 semifinalists were from Maine this year, of those 5 are nominees and contenders for an award when the winners are announced in June:

  • Best New Restaurant – Leeward
  • Outstanding Baker – Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery
  • Best Chef: Northeast – Vien Dobui, Công Tử Bột; Courtney Loreg, Woodford Food & Beverage; Damian Sansonetti, Chaval

The award winners will be announced on Monday June 13th at an event taking place in Chicago.

Related information:

F&W: Best Coffee Shops

Food & Wine has recognized Little Woodfords in their list of the Best Coffee Shops in Every State.

Opened elsewhere in 2017 but now very much at home on this busy corner, the pint-sized, fiercely queer Little Woodfords has had an outsized impact in coffee-mad Portland; owned by city council member Andrew Zarro and husband TJ, the shop features coffees from some of the best roasters in New England, keeps a rotating menu of astrology sign-themed drinks, and isn’t afraid to stick its neck out for their workers, for their beliefs, and for Portland. There are a lot of coffee shops in town, this feels like the one where you’re most likely to find someone organizing a revolution.