El Rayo

I just drove by El Rayo and there are signs posted saying that there’s a private party there tonight. New restaurants often have a party with friends and family a couple days before they open as a dry-run with a controlled friendly audience. A call to the restaurant confirmed that they plan to open on Saturday.

GRO Cafe Review

The Portland Phoenix has reviewed GRO Cafe, the new raw food establishment near Monument Square.

Even without cooking, GRO Café may evolve and flourish too. What they do well is good enough to build upon successfully. The sesame noodles made from zucchini, for example, offered a nice contrast in texture to crisp carrot and celery. The almond Thai sauce was not too thick or sweet. Little nori dumplings were sort of interesting, though their nutty, garlicky, bright green paste was a touch too dense.

but also went on to say

But there are things to improve. In the smallish sea veggie shiitake roll, the bitter collard wrap and seaweed aroma overwhelmed the other flavors. The mushrooms also get a bit lost in a too-sweet marinade when featured in an “Emma Goldman” sandwich, which replaces bread with two circles of wettish undercooked tortilla. But the Goldman was better than the veggie-ball sub . . .

Bonobo Review

Portland Bar Guide has published a review of Bonobo.

He also said their wood-fired pizza is unbeatable. And he’s right. Everything is freshly made and they offer gourmet organic combinations (Taleggio cheese, smoke roasted tomato, leeks, garlic butter and arugula salad – and that’s just one pizza) you won’t find anywhere. I know, you thought Flatbread had the best pizza, right? Bonobo is upping the standards.

Outdoor Eating

Sunnier days and warmer temperatures are making there way into the weather reports, and Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, is this weekend. So it seems like the right time to put together a list of the venues in the city that, weather permitting, offer outdoor drinking and dining. The 50+ business listed range from full outdoor restaurant table service to ice cream vendors that provide a table or two for you to rest while you enjoy a a hot fudge sundae. I’ve tried to make the list as complete as possible but there are probably some omissions so if you find one please let me know.
Bar Lola, Borealis Breads, Bard Coffee, Tortilla Flat and Henry VIII have all been added to the list since this morning. Thanks for the feedback!


The Forecaster has a report on the LobsterBIZ program that occurred Monday at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. LobsterBIZ is a day long seminar being held in Portland, Rockland and Ellsworth to provide lobstermen with the business knowledge they need to succeed in the current market.

LobsterBIZ coordinator Meredith Mandelson, GMRI’s community project manager, said the seminars are being funded through a $50,000 grant from the Lobster Research, Education and Development Board, which oversees the revenue generated from lobster license plate sales. Now that the ground work has been laid, Mandelson said she hopes the seminars will become an annual event.

This Week's Events

There’s A LOT going on this week. Rob Evans is teaching a cooking class tonight at Stonewall Kitchens in York. There’s also a gluten-free Italian baking class and the weekly Food and Drink Trivia Contest at Bull Feeney’s. Bar Lola is holding a wine dinner on Tuesday night featuring wines from Argentina. Buy Local is set to announce the results of the 2009 Indie Biz Awards at Empire Dine and Dance on Wednesday night, and Black Tie Bistro is offering a meat & potatoes makeover cooking class. Novare Res is celebrating their one year anniversary on Thursday. Author and food advocate Joel Berg will be speaking at USM Thursday morning and Longfellow Books Thursday night. There are wine tasting Thursday afternoon at Leavitt and Sons and at Black Cherry Provisions. Local 188 is holding a Portuguese wine dinner on Thursday night and there’s also a Peak Brewing showcase going on at Great Lost Bear the same evening. Kitchen & Cork is holding a wine tasting on Saturday. Farmers’ Markets are being held in Monument Square on Wednesday and at Deering Oaks Park on Saturday.  For more information on these and other upcoming food happenings in the area, visit the event calendar.