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.

This Week’s Events: Openings, Minateaux, Murder Mystery, Helm Pop-up, Maine Restaurant Week

MondayRobin’s Table, a new vegan restaurant in Biddeford is opening at 7:30 am, and Maine Restaurant Week continues.

TuesdayMr. Tuna is re-opening their expanded sushi counter in the Public Market House.

Wednesday – South Portland restaurant Judy Gibson is opening for business, and Izakaya Minato and Eaux are putting on a one-night collaboration, Izakaya Minateaux.

Saturday – Milk & Honey/Swallowtail Farm is hosting a Murder Mystery Dinner, and the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place.

SundayHelm is holding a pop-up at Tandem Bakery, and the MRW Spirit Quest is taking place.

For more information on these and other upcoming food happenings in the area, visit the event calendar.

If you are holding a food event this week that’s not listed above, publicize it by adding it as a comment to this post.

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:

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:

This Week’s Events: JBF Semifinalists, Wing Challenge, Maine Restaurant Week, Craft Brewers Summit, Ramona’s Pop-up

Tuesday – there will be a Truffle dinner at Chaval.

Wednesday – the James Beard Foundation will be releasing the list of restaurant and chef semifinalists for this years awards; check back mid-day to see which Maine businesses and people make the list. There will be a Spanish wine dinner at Evo Kitchen + Bar, and Chocolats Passion owner Catherine Wiersema will be giving a talk at Mechanics Hall.

Thursday – Liquid Riot is holding the 2nd Annual Chicken Wing Challenge.

Friday – the annual MRW Incredible Breakfast Cook-off is taking place, and the New England Craft Brewers Summit is convening at the Holiday Inn By-the-Bay.

SaturdayRamona’s, the new Philly-inspired sandwich shop under construction on Washington Ave, is holding a pop-up at the Portland Zoo, and the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place.

Sunday – It’s the first day of Maine Restaurant Week, The Garrison is launching their brunch service, the MRW Crave Tasting and Competition is taking place.

For more information on these and other upcoming food happenings in the area, visit the event calendar.

If you are holding a food event this week that’s not listed above, publicize it by adding it as a comment to this post.

Review of CBG

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed CBG.

Chef Theodore Moffitt’s menu delivers whiplash-inducing doses of eclecticism but is largely well-executed and seems suited to bar manager Mike Barbuto’s classics-focused beverage program. CBG’s fried snacks are among its best dishes. If you visit at night, don’t skip the crisp-fried croquettes filled with braised pork and potato. At brunch, it’s the savory ham-and-cheese fritters that you’ll want, with their superheated interior ready to send rivulets of melted sharp cheddar running down your chin as you eat.

x0 Decadel Anniversaries

Several businesses are celebrating major decade anniversaries this year:

60-year Anniversaries
Maria’s Ristorante which was founded by Anthony and Madeline Napolitano and moved last year to the former Espo’s building on Congress Street.

40-Year Anniversaries
Dock Fore was founded by sisters Susan and Nancy Hezlep in the space that had long been the home of Zeitman’s Grocery Store. Three Dollar Deweys opened at the intersection of Union and Fore before moving around the corner in 1995 to their location on Commercial Street. Deweys closed in 2018 and re-opened in 2019 under new ownership.

20-year Anniversaries
PFM data is a little sparse on what was taking place in 2000. It falls in the gap between my historical research and when the site started. Do any of you remember any establishments that opened in 2000?

10-year Anniversaries
Nosh, Sonny’s, Boda, Yordprom Coffee, Kamasouptra, Bayside Bowl, Pai Men Miyake, Wine Wise and Trader Joe’s opened.

Flood’s in the NYT

Flood’s received a shout out this week in the New York Times Style Magazine.

Like Palace, Flood’s offers creative comfort food like juicy burgers and pancetta toast with apple butter, as well as a laid-back environment personified by several unofficial and irreverent mascots from the minds of the Atlanta-based design and consulting group Office of Brothers, Inc., such as a beanie-wearing, cigarette-smoking fish. “I’m not in the business of challenging people with my space or my food,” Mitchell told me. Rather, Flood’s is about feeling like you’re a regular.