Chef Marilou Ranta, Maine Street Bistro, Brickyard Hollow

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a feature article about Marilou Ranta who is the chef and owner of The Quarry in Monson. The Restaurant won the James Beard award for Outstanding Hospitality in 2023.

In the dining room, there are unforced smiles all around. Regulars get big bear hugs. Newcomers get hugs, too. “She’s a great hugger,” said Martha Lerman, a hug recipient who was dining at The Quarry for her first time on a Thursday evening in mid-September. Ranta was especially delighted to meet a Filipino couple who had driven from Massachusetts to check out The Quarry. Word about the 5-year-old restaurant “in the boonies,” as Ranta puts it, is getting around.

The Sunday Telegram also includes a 3½ star review of Maine Street Bistro in Brunswick,

Lean into Maine Street Bistro’s French menu and you’ll be rewarded. Co-owners and co-chefs John Holm and Brandon Franklin built their impressive skillsets of classic French techniques separately, but together in Brunswick, they’ve come up with a largely traditional menu that holds promise.

and an article about the rapid expansion of Brickyard Hollow Brewing which has added five locations in the last 12 months.

As Moll and his partner were first launching Brickyard Hollow in 2018, they realized the significance of the winter carnival photo. “We were trying to create a craft brewery that was a gathering place for this little community, and that picture really helped present that,” Moll said.

Sunday Telegram: A Helping Hand, Review of Mainely Noods

The Maine Sunday Telegram includes a feature article about the culture of mutual assistance within Portland food and dining industry.

In a tough, fast-paced business where something often, seemingly inevitably, goes wrong, Maine restaurateurs, bakers and brewers in Portland and beyond have countless tales of coming to each other’s aid, or being the recipient of help. In the month leading up to Thanksgiving, we asked them to share with us instances of giving and getting.

The paper also includes a review of Mainely Noods.

After nearly four years in business, Portland’s Mainely Noods is beginning to show signs of burnout. Its effervescent visual design aesthetic remains firmly in place, but fading photos and untidy workspaces lend the restaurant a neglected vibe. The menu isn’t much of an improvement.

Review of Coletti’s, Diwali, Vegan Thanksgiving, Home Plate

The Maine Sunday Telegram includes a review of Coletti’s Pizza in Biddeford.

Take the Coletti’s Special ($21), where roasted eggplant and tomato sauce play a supporting role to spears of tender, sautéed broccoli rabe. “I get broccoli rabe by the case every week. It’s funny, because back in Naples, poor people like us used to say things like, ‘We don’t need money when we have broccoli rabe.’ So I cook it using my momma’s recipe, with just extra-virgin olive oil and garlic. It’s important to me. That’s why it’s the Coletti’s ‘Special’,” he said.

Today’s paper also includes an article about the celebration of Diwali in Maine, Avery Yale Kamilla’s recommendations on how to serve a vegan Thanksgiving dinner, and a Home Plate essay by Vrylena Olney.

Best New Bar: Room for Improvement

Punch has named Room for Improvement to their list of the Best New Bars of 2023.

Wharf Street, a narrow alleyway in Portland, Maine, is lined with cobblestones and lit at night by tall iron lampposts. Squint, and you might feel like you’ve stepped back in time. But a neon “cocktails” sign in the window of Room for Improvement suggests something wholly new. Opened in April by veteran bartender Arvid Brown (founding bar manager at Crispy Gai and Baharat) and business partner Nick Coffrin, the self-proclaimed “halfway decent bar” pairs serious cocktails with a resolutely unserious atmosphere. The bar’s irreverent ethos marks a deliberate departure from the reigning aesthetic of the sleek, lab-like cocktail bar…

Their fellow honorees are: Nine Bar (Chicago), Post Haste (Philadelphia), Sperbueno (NYC), and Wild Child (Shawnee). The article also recognizes Trick Dog in San Francisco as this year’s Industry Icon.

The 36-seat Room for Improvement is located on Wharf Street and was launched in April by Arvid Brown and Nick Coffin. Brown was named one of Star Chefs’ Coastal New England Rising Stars, and the bar is a regular hangout for many of their fellow bartenders and industry professionals.

4½ Stars for The Alna Store

The Maine Sunday Telegram has published a review of The Alna Store.  Restaurant critic Andrew Ross gave the Midcoast restaurant a rating of 4½ which places it midway on the Sunday Telegram scale between excellent and extraordinary.

Eventually, I found my way to Lincoln County and the admittedly remote Alna Store, and I’m delighted I did. Here, owners Jasper Ludwig and Brian Haskins have reimagined a tumbledown convenience store as an eclectic, upscale New American restaurant that centers sustainability and seasonality. Chef Devin Dearden and pastry chef Kristen LaMontagne bring impressive skill and technique to the restaurant’s ever-changing menu concept, without ever losing sight of the humble space’s roots and locale. Custardy Basque cheesecake with apple-butter caramel, house-extruded ditalini pasta with pepitas and Romanesco cauliflower, and a peerless roasted pork belly dish probably won’t be on offer when you go, but don’t let that put you off from a little drive.

The Alna Store opened on December 22, 2022. They’re located in the small Midcoast town of Alna which is just a little bit inland from Wiscasset.

Photos: Customers at The Alna Store on the opening night, a dish of hamachi sashimi from earlier this year.

Review of Little Pig & Maine Oysters

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a four star review of Little Pig.

Outside, on the tree-covered patio, there are café tables to park yourself while you devour superlative Lao sausage and fiery jao sauce, fried hake banh mi sandwiches slathered with choo chee curry, and basil-flecked Thai-style street corn. Once winter hits, you’ll want to consider this stellar newcomer as takeout-only. It shouldn’t matter. Cooking this confident, spicing with such self-assured swagger, is a rarity. Don’t let the lack of a chair put you off.

The paper also includes an article about the Maine oyster industry.

We’re into the “R months,” the stretch from September to April when oysters are at their culinary peak. In Maine, half-shell fans and lovers of local seafood have more cause for excitement each year as oyster farms continue to proliferate along the state’s coast.

Maine Cider & Review of Station 118

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a feature article on the fast growing Maine cider industry.

McGrath sees Maine’s robust food and beverage scene as a major force behind the state’s growing cider market. “Like in Oregon and Washington, part of it is there is an existing culture that celebrates apples. Maine just has a really rich cider culture,” he said. “The craft beer and local food scenes have created an atmosphere where consumers are excited to try the local cider.”

To learn more about Maine cider producers visit the Guide to Maine Ciders, and for information on Cider Club Portland read this article.

Today’s paper also includes a review of Station 118 in Thomaston.

Beef brisket is among Station 118’s stronger suits, especially pulled brisket seasoned with wonderful homemade pickled onions and a generous glug of chipotle-bourbon barbecue sauce (orders of magnitude better than all the other sauces at Station 118). Bundled into three overstuffed brioche-bun sliders ($22) and plated up with appealingly well-done fries, this plate is a must-order.

Review of Clam Bar

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a review of Clam Bar.

But the star here is the Clam Bar itself, a mostly traditional seafood shack with a menu that showcases Maine seafood and chef Sam Keene’s Latin-inflected recipes. Crisp-fried whole belly clams are exceptional here, and most other dishes are at minimum, very good. Try the romesco-and-shaved-fennel-topped Maine crab cakes, the brown-butter-tossed French fries and the unexpectedly tasty tuna tostadas, a ceviche-style appetizer served on tortilla triangles

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.