Opening Season Starts Early

It looks like Opening Season may be starting early this year:

  • A new vegan restaurant in Biddeford called  Robin’s Table (websitefacebookinstagram) will be opening Monday March 2nd at 7:30 am. Robin’s Table with serve breakfast and lunch  as well as offer cooking classes to “teach the ‘hows and whys’ of vegan transitioning” and provide a meeting space for community events. Owner Robin Adams plans to serve familiar, home style dishes and baked goods that just happen to be vegan.
  • Mr. Tuna (website, instagram) will re-open their sushi bar in the Public Market House on Tuesday March 3rd at 11:30 am. The new Mr. Tuna will feature 16 seats (up from 6) and an expanded menu including sashimi and nigiri flights and a mini-omakase option.
  • Judy Gibson (website, instagram) a new restaurant in South Portland serving a menu of contemporary American cuisine will be opening on Wednesday March 4th at 5 pm.
  • Solo Cucina Market (website, facebook, instagram) is in the final stages of construction and the owners are aiming to open in mid-March. The market is a collaboration between the owners of The Farm Stand in South Portland and Solo Italiano. The market will incorporate up to 10 seats and a small bar featuring bakery and espresso drinks. Solo Cucina will sell prepared food to go in addition to the meats, dairy, wine, beer and produce that The Farm Stand has become known for.
  • Leeward (websiteinstagram) is aiming to open by mid-March. Leeward is being launched by Jake and Raquel Stevens. The Stevens are planning a 50+ seat restaurant with a full bar and wine program that’s focused on minimal intervention wines. Handmade pasta will be the primary focus of the menu but it will also include vegetable, meat and seafood based entrees. It’s located at 85 Free Street.
  • Via Vecchia (instagramfacebookwebsite) plans to launch in late March. The restaurant will be located in the former Vignola/Cinque Terre building and will be a “modern take on a European bistro serving small plates Italian food, classic cocktails, and Italian wines” with a focus on the bar and cocktail program. It’s’ being opened by Joshua Miranda who owns Blyth & Burrows.
  • Ramona’s (instagram), the new Philly-inspired breakfast and lunch hoagie shop being launched by Chad Conley and Josh Sobel is aiming to open during the last week of March.
  • Owl & Whale (websitefacebookinstagram) has been making good progress on the retail shop they have under construction at 158 Saint John Street and have shared that they plan to open on May 1st.

Many other restaurants, brewers, bakers, coffee shops, etc are still under construction—here’s the full list.

Helm Oyster Bar & Bistro

Helm (websiteinstagramfacebook), the new oyster bar and bistro under construction on first floor of the new WEX building on Thames Street, has applied for a liquor license. Here’s a look at the draft menu and floor plan.

Helm will be holding a pop-up at the West End Tandem on Sunday March 8th. Details and tickets are available on the Helm website.

The floor plan includes an oyster bar and outdoor seating:

Cong Tu Bot Expansion

Cong Tu Bot owners Jessica Sheahan  and Vien Dobui have leased 300 sq ft of additional space at 75 Washington Ave to expand the CTB kitchen.

A larger kitchen will enable Cong Tu Bot to add a lunch service which has been part of the vision for the business since it opened. It will also provide the room to bring online the in-house production of wheat noodles for the Mi Quang dish (“wheat noodles w/rice noodles, pork, shrimp, peanuts, less broth”) which has been an unrealized part of the menu since 2017.

Dobui and Sheehan hope to have construction completed and launch the lunch service before the start of summer. The lunch options will initially be similar to the menu served for dinner but the plan is to eventually add lunch-only dishes.

Elda Moving and Expanding

Elda (website, instagram) chef/owner Bowman Brown has leased space in the Pepperell Mill Campus in Biddeford. Brown will be taking over building 19A with plans to relocate his restaurant to the 2nd floor, and add bakery and cafe at street level. There are also long term plans to open a second restaurant with a different concept on the 3rd floor next winter.

The new location is situated on Main Street opposite from Lorne Wine. Construction is now underway, and Brown hopes to open the 48-seat Elda 2.0 in early June.

Brown moved to Maine from Salt Lake City where he was the co-owner and chef of Forage (instagram). He was recognized as part of the 2011 class of Best New Chefs by Food & Wine. Additionally, Brown was six time Beard semifinalists in the Best Chef: Southwest from 2011 to 2016.

Elda was named one of the Best New Restaurants in America by Bill Addison at Eater in 2018, and was the feature of a New York Times article in that same year. It earned a 4 1/2 star review from the Maine Sunday Telegram restaurant critic Andrew Ross.

The opening of Elda and now its expanded vision and new location are part of the ongoing evolution of Biddeford’s restaurant and food culture. The city (pop. 21,000) is home to Rabelais Books, Palace Diner, Elda, Magnus on Water, Lorne Wine, Night Moves Bread, Banded Brewing, Round Turn Distilling, Sweet Cream Dairy, two coffee roasters/shops (Time and Tide, Elements) , Big Tree Hospitality’s commissary kitchen and a number of other restaurants and food producers. Keep your eye on Biddeford, there’s no doubt more to come.

Vegan Restaurant Under Construction in Biddeford

A new vegan restaurant called Robin’s Table (website, facebook, instagram) is under construction in Biddeford.

Robin’s Table with serve breakfast and lunch  as well as offer cooking classes to “teach the ‘hows and whys’ of vegan transitioning” and provide a meeting space for community events. Owner Robin Adams plans to serve familiar, homestyle dishes and baked goods that just happen to be vegan.

Adams previously owned the Adams Homestyle restaurant in Salem, NH. She’s a longtime adherent to a plant-centered diet.

Robin’s table is located at 420 Elm Street. Adams is hoping to open Robin’s Table sometime in February.

Off Peninsula Dining On the Rise

Food establishments are the focus in this Portland Phoenix article, Off-peninsula is Portland’s New Peninsula.

It’s Thursday night, the bar is packed, the dining room full, and customers are sipping local craft beers as regulars and people stopping in for the first time mix to enjoy a night out in Portland. 

Packed bars and restaurants have long been the norm on Portland’s peninsula. But this is Woodfords Corner.

Broken Arrow Under Development on Congress

A new restaurant called  Broken Arrow (instagram) is under construction at 545 Congress Street in the storefront formerly occupied by the West End Deli. They will open serving dinner “5-7 times a week” and plan to eventually add a lunch service as well. Broken Arrow will seat 47 overall featuring banquet seating along the right wall and a 17-seat bar on the opposite side of the space. There are also plans for outdoor seating.

The draft menu (page 100) includes small and large plate such as brown bread with butter, oyster sliders, mussels and pot roast, as well as oysters, seafood towers, sandwiches and meat/cheese plates.

Broken Arrow is being launched by Holly and Lyle Aker. Lyle Aker had owned the Charlatan and the Three Aces in Chicago prior to moving to Maine.

The restaurant has been under development since 2017.

Verna’s All Day

The Waterville Sentinel has published an article about Verna’s All Day (websiteinstagram), the “casual, classic American chop house” that the owners of the Portland Hunt and Alpine Club have under construction in Waterville.

Verna’s All Day, a casual, classic American chop house, will offer steak and other entrees, as well as locally sourced food and classic cocktails in the restaurant part of the business. A range of prepared foods, convenience items, wine, local beer and other items will be featured in the small market and cafe-deli, where patrons will be encouraged to eat, socialize and study.