The Salt Yard Review, Vegetarian History

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a review of The Salt Yard at the Canopy Portland Waterfront Hotel,

…It has done so partly through decor that incorporates work from local artisans, as well as through Maine-themed food and beverage options at its ground-floor restaurant, Salt Yard Bar & Café – a restaurant without a dining room. The lack of a dedicated evening dining space is not a liability when you’re able to sip bar ambassador Katrin Miller’s inventive, generally well-composed cocktails. Her Moxie Old Fashioned is a knockout and works well as a pairing for a bowl of poutine-like Korean Beef Fries made with Maine potatoes, or a delightfully messy Salt Yard Burger made with Pineland Farms beef.

The paper also shares the history and impact of the Good Day Market on the vegetarian food scene in Portland back in the late 20th Century.

A landmark vegetarian business called the Good Day Market that opened in Portland in 1970 would go on to cultivate at least five memorable vegetarian establishments and continues to flavor the city’s food scene today.

Southern Smoke Foundation Mental Health Program

The Southern Smoke Foundation (SSF) has announced they’ll be partnering with the University of Maine to pilot their mental health program for food and beverage workers in Maine this summer. The program is called Behind You.

SSF is providing a grant to University of Maine’s Psychology Services Center to provide no-cost counseling to F+B workers across Maine through the Behind You program. A Behind You grant covers the cost of counseling for F+B workers who qualify through the SSF website and allows student clinicians to diversify their training by seeing a community of seasoned F+B workers with various backgrounds. A licensed clinical supervisor and the university program director supervise all student clinicians. In addition, SSF requires university partners to provide telehealth services to increase accessibility for workers with demanding schedules or living in rural areas with limited access to in-person services. The initial grant will be for a pilot program with hopes of expanding services in 2025.

SSF credits Jordan Rubin—co-owner of Mr. Tuna, Bar Futo and Crispy Gai—with advocating to SSF to bring Behind You to Maine.

“I’ve gotten the chance to work alongside the team at Southern Smoke Foundation for a few years now – whether that’s cooking at their annual Southern Smoke Festival in Houston, TX, or connecting my staff and friends in the industry with them to apply for Emergency Relief Funding,” said chef Jordan Rubin. “The fact that the Behind You program will now also be available to my team and other food and beverage workers across Maine to receive free counseling if they’re interested makes me so happy.”

Here’s a link to the full press release from SSF. The Southern Smoke Foundation also offers an Emergency Relief program for food and beverage workers.

Luna Bangladeshi Cuisine

A new restaurant called Luna Bangladeshi Cuisine (facebook, instagram) held their grand opening on Wednesday. Luna is located on the second floor of the Public Market House.

Owners Syeda Washima and Abid Azad are serving a menu that includes lamb rogan josh, chicken tikka masala, gyro sandwiches, burgers, salads, sides and desserts like baklava. You can see some photos of their dishes on the Luna instagram account.

Azad and Washima took over the space previously occupied by the similarly named restaurant Luna Falafel and Shwarma. Luna will be open Monday through Saturday, 11 am – 7 pm.

Maine Food & Dining News: Saco, Brunswick, Lewsiton, Bangor, Hancock, Belfast

New food and dining developments are taking place all across Maine. Here are some recent updates to keep you in the know:

  • Lorraine Fagela has purchased the building at 294 Main Street in Saco where she plans to open Sweets & Co. (instagram) a gluten-free bakery/cafe. Fagela will be offering breads, bagels, cinnamon rolls, quiches, pies, pastries, coffee and bubble tea. She will also use the space to teach hands-on gluten-free cooking classes. Sweet & Co. is expected to open in early Fall. Fagela was a co-owner of Roots Cafe in Westbrook and is the founder of Hand + Heart (instagram) which produces gluten-free flour and baking mixes.
  • The Holy Donut will be opening their new Brunswick location on May 17th. They’ll be open 9 am – 4 pm with a ribbon cutting ceremony 9 – 10 am.
  • Down East has published an article about Bon Vivant, the fine dining restaurant that opened last August in Lewiston.
  • The Bangor Daily News has a report about three new food trucks launching in Bangor this year: Dreamer Food, Smoke & Steel BBQ, and Salt & Cedar Kitchen.
  • The Lewiston Sun Journal reports that the new Brazilian steakhouse Food Point is getting close to opening. Food Point will be located at 413 Main Street and will be open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.
  • Bon Vent Cider (instagram) has launched a $15k crowdfunding campaign. They plan to use the funds to build out the tasting room for the cidery in Hancock, Maine.
  • The Little Italy Bus (instagram) food truck has launched a $5k crowdfunding campaign. The funds will help with renovations needed to relocate to Belfast. The Little Italy Bus serves wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza, espresso, and infused Italian ice slushies.

Liquid Riot Sold to Michael Fraser

Liquid Riot has been sold to Michael Fraser. According to a report from Portland Old Port, Fraser plans to rebrand the Old Port brewpub and distillery as Camp Pennant (instagram). Watch for changes to the menu and to the line-up of beer and spirits which will be released under the Pennant Brewing and Distilling brand.

Fraser is the owner or co-owner of Roma, Bramhall, Nosh, Nosh Tacos, CBG and Paper Tiger. Liquid Riot was founded in 2013 by Eric Michaud under the name In’finiti. The name was changed in Liquid Riot in 2015. Michaud was also the founder of Novare Res which launched in 2008.

Oun Lido’s Opening for Takeout

The new Cambodian-Chinese restaurant Oun Lido’s (websiteinstagram, online ordering) is opening for business on Thursday, May 9th. The restaurant is being launched by Vien Dobui and chef Bounahcree Kim from Cong Tu Bot. Oun Lido’s is located at 30 Market Street in the space that was formerly home to Pat’s Pizza.

Kim and Dobui are initially launching the restaurant for take-out (Tuesday through Sunday, 11 am – 8 pm) while they continue to renovate the 2nd floor dining room. Seating, table service and a bar program will launch this fall.

The draft menu (see below) generally reflects the opening day offerings. There are a number of vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan dishes on the menu. A boba-based drinks menu will also be available. Over the coming weeks watch for the menu to expand to include more savory dishes as well as desserts.

Bon Appétit included Oun Lido’s in their short list of the Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of 2024.

The opening of Oun Lidos, the second restaurant from the team behind popular Portland Vietnamese mainstay Cong Tu Bot, is a good enough reason to book a trip to Maine this spring. Oun Lidos will be a multi-level restaurant in Old Port, with an all-day takeout counter offering Chinatown-style baked goods, rice plates, and boba to-go.

Cong Tu Bot was founded in 2017. Dobui was a James Beard Awards nominee in the Best Chef: Northeast category in 2020 and 2022. The New York Times included it in their 2021 list of the 50 restaurants they were “most excited about right now”.

The Garden to Open on Saturday

The Garden, a new 58-seat restaurant at Bissell Brothers on Thompson’s Point, is set to launch this Saturday, May 11th. This second restaurant at the brewery is located in the adjacent room that has previously been the Rosemont Market wine bar.

Chef David Rinaldi will be serving a pan-Adriatic menu (see below) which will include dishes like charred caraflex cabbage with taleggio, bavette steak (shown above) and zeppole for dessert. The bar program includes natural wines and cocktails in addition to Bissell Brothers beer.

The Garden will initially be open Thursday 5 – 8 pm, Friday 5 – 10 pm, Saturday 5 – 10 pm and Sunday 5 – 8 pm.

Low Key Opening on Thursday

Jing Yan owners Britt Langford and Leo Zhang, are set to open their new establishment Low Key (instagram) on Thursday, May 9th. The neighborhood bar is located at 89 Congress Street in the space formerly occupied by Blue Spoon.

As you can see from the photos above, Zhang and Langford have completed renovations which have added a bar along the street side of the dining room and updated the aesthetics including wall murals painted by Langford. Low Key will also have an ice cream takeout window facing Merrill Street.

The ~25-seat Low Key will serve (see menu below) classic and signature cocktails, wine, beer with a food menu of bar snacks and sandwiches as well as soft serve ice cream. Shown above is the Pick-Me-Up cocktail which is made with mezcal, strega, green pepper, hot sauce, mint and soda.

They’ll be opening Thursday, May 9th, 4 – 11 pm, and during their first week they’ll be open through Sunday, 4 – 11 pm with the ice cream window open Saturday/Sunday, noon – 3:30. The following week their regular hours of operation will be Wednesday through Sunday, 4 – 11 pm with the ice cream window open Saturday/Sunday, noon – 3:30.

Zhang and Langford launched Jing Yan in November 2020. Blue Spoon closed in April 2023.

Stonewall Kitchen Returning to Portland

Stonewall Kitchen (website, facebook, instagram) has leased a 2,327 sq ft space at 215 Commercial Street where they plan to relaunch their Old Port retail shop.

This new larger Stonewall store will enable an wider range of Stonewall products and gifts to be available. The space is under construction and they hope to have the new store stocked and open to the public in mid June.

Stonewall Kitchen had been located on Middle Street across from Bard Coffee for many years. They moved out in early 2022 to make way for the construction going on in the building.

Upcoming Food & Dining Events

WednesdayMagnus on Water will be hosting a Small Dough pizza x Lorne collaboration pop-up in Bideford.

FridaySMCC culinary students are holding a 5-course Spanish wine dinner.

SaturdayOak & Ember is holding a pig roast at their restaurant in Buxton as a benefit for the New England Breast Cancer Alliance.

SundayCiderFeast, an “all-inclusive tasting event celebrates craft ciders from some of the top cider makers in New England and beyond” is taking place.

Mother’s Day

  • Cong Tu Bot – is serving a Mother’s Day brunch.
  • Eighteen95 – will be serving a Mother’s Day brunch menu.
  • Harbor Bistro + Terrace – will be serving a Mother’s Day brunch buffet. $69 for adults, $34 for children 5-12, and children under 5 are free.
  • Inn by the Sea – is serving a 3-course prix fixe brunch ($76 for adults and $36 for children 4-12).
  • Luna – will be holding a brunch buffet at their rooftop bar in the Canopy Hotel.
  • Many other restaurants will also be open serving their regular Sunday morning menu.

May 17 – The Five of Clubs (instagram) cocktail bar and Twinflower Cafe (instagram) will be opening in concert with the launch of The Longfellow Hotel. They are located at 754 Congress Street, across from Wayside Diner and next to Tandem Coffee.

May 18 – The Maine Wild Wine Fest is taking place in Freeport.

May 19 – Fork Food Lab and Mayo Street Arts are collaborating to hold the Taste of Nations Food Festival.

May 24 – The Other Side Diner is holding a Greek BBQ Night.

June 10-16Portland Wine Week is taking place.

June 17 – The 3rd Annual ChopTails Competition will be taking place at Batson River.

June 22 – The Great Falls Brewfest is taking place in Lewiston.

June 26 – Secret Supper (instagram) is holding a dinner in the Portland area.

June 29 – The 3rd Annual Mast Landing Wavy Days Festival is taking place.

July 25/26 – The Kneading Conference is taking place in Skowhegan.

August 30September 1Maine Apple Camp is taking place.

September 20-22 – The Common Ground Fair will be taking place.