Maine Food & Dining News: North Yarmouth, Swanville, Buxton, Skowhegan, Lewiston/Auburn, Kingfield

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

5-10-15: February 2024

The Portland Food Map archive of posts provides a chronicle of the past 16+ years of the Portland restaurant scene. While a lot of the reporting here is about what’s happening now and coming next, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at what the hot topics were from 5, 10 and 15 years ago.

Here’s are highlights from February 2009, 2014 and 2019:

  • In 2009 One Longfellow Square and Rabelais Books announced the launch of a food film series. The idea was that each month they partnered with a local chef who’d select a food film that was meaningful to them and prepare a meal to complement the screening at One Longfellow.
  • Backyard chickens were a hot topic and in early 2009 the City Council passed an ordinance to make them legal to raise in Portland.
  • Rob Schatz launched his food blog Eating Portland Alive in 2014. A decade and 3,651 posts later and Schatz is still going strong as an Johnny-on-the-spot instagram account about the Portland food scene.
  • Ten years ago the Beard Foundation released the names of 7 chefs and restaurants semifinalist for the 2014 awards program: Fore Street and Primo for Outstanding Restaurant, Rob Tod at Allagash for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional, Cara Stadler at Tao Yuan for Rising Star, and three chefs in the Best Chef:Northeast category: Brian Hill from Francine Bistro, Ravin Nakjaroen at Long Grain, and Masa Miyake from Miyake.
  • Cronuts (invented and trademarked by Dominique Ansel) were all the rage in 2014. South Portland bakery Little Bigs was selling out their weekly production in 30 minutes with customers driving from as far away as Brunswick to get their hands on the trendy baked good.
  • Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly served a pop-up Indonesian dinner at Nosh. The Pisha-Dufflys went on to help Big Tree Hospitality (then known as AMA) launch The Honey Paw in 2015 and then moved to Portland, Oregon where they have won acclaim for their restaurants Gado Gado, Oma’s Hideaway and The Houston Blacklight.
  • What was likely Portland’s first tortilla factory, Tortilleria Pachangalaunched on Industrial Way in 2014.
  • Word broke that Guy and Stella Hernandez, owners of Bar Lola, were working to launch of a new restaurant called Lolita.
  • The Press Herald hired Peggy Grodinsky to be the newspaper’s food editor. Grodinsky continues to lead the Food & Dining team at the Maine Trust for Local News to this day.
  • Chris and Paige Gould launched their new restaurant Central Provisions. It would go on to get a Best New Restaurant Beard Award nomination the following year.
  • An antique Maine law was unearthed that prohibited Maine establishments from listing the ABV of the alcoholic beverages on their menus. The legislature quickly passed an update to eliminate the outdated provision.
  • Five years ago the Beard Foundation released the names of 9 chefs and restaurants semifinalist for the 2019 awards program in the Best Chef: Northeast, Outstanding Restaurant, Outstanding Baker, Outstanding Wine Beer or Spirits Professional and Outstanding Service categories.
  • In 2019, brothers Sam and Rob Minervino bought Pizza Villa from the sons of the founder Michael Regios. Pizza Villa was founded in 1965.
  • Word broke about the development of a new cocktail bar and restaurant in Biddeford called Magnus on Water, and also the first report emerged about Perennial Cider Bar in Belfast.
  • Evan Atwell opened his most excellent knife shop Strata in one of the Black Box incubator spaces on Washington Ave.

Check back next month for a look back at the hot news from the March of 2009, 2014 and 2019.

Circumstance Coming to Swanville

A new restaurant called Circumstance (website, instagram) is under construction in Swanville. The chef/owner of Circumstance, Khristopher Hogg, formerly operated the excellent Belfast cider bar and restaurant Perennial.

The 24-seat Circumstance will be a seasonal restaurant open May through October, serving Friday and Saturday night dinners and Sunday brunch.

Dinner will be a 6-course chef’s tasting menu utilizing organically farmed and foraged local ingredients with dishes that are “both planned and somewhat improvised, a combination of accumulated and immediate responses to the landscape.”

For brunch, Hogg plans to put the menu’s “emphasis on seafood, oysters, and charcuterie” and a “delicious spread with lots of different, densely flavorful components that you can combine as you like.” The beverage program will feature regional natural wines and ciders (including the first vintage of their own Perennial cider).

The cuisine at Circumstance reflects the pursuit of craft, creativity, and an appreciation of place. We presume a standard of 100% locally sourced and organically grown ingredients and rely on whole-animal butchery, charcuterie, foraged ingredients, fermentation, smoking, and other forms of food preservation to accent our menu, along with careful combinations of ingredients in their original state.

Hogg hopes to open Circumstance in late May and is currently hiring for two positions: a Host/Server and a Kitchen Assistant.

For more information on the restaurant, and to sign-up for their mailing to be notified when reservations open, visit their website

Longfellow Hires Suliveras

The Twinflower Cafe and Five of Clubs bar are scheduled to open this spring along with the launch of the Longfellow Hotel (websitefacebookinstagram) which is under construction at 754 Congress Street.

Twinflower will be a daytime counter service cafe serving breakfast and lunch with a menu that leans into vegetarian, plant-based and gluten-free dishes. Five of Clubs will be the Longfellow’s lobby bar featuring classic cocktails, wines, local beers and NA drinks along with bar snacks like gougeres with chicken liver mousse, a selection of fresh seafood dishes, and larger dishes like a rabbit terrine with black truffles and pistachios.

Wilson Suliveras has been hired as the executive chef at Longfellow. He’s a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park). His Maine resume includes working at White Barn Inn as the pastry chef and then executive sous chef, and more recently for Bowman Brown as the executive sous chef at Elda/Jackrabbit in Biddeford.

Here’s a look at the draft menus with Twinflower on the left and Five of Clubs on the right.

Argenta Brewing to Open Friday

Argenta Brewing (websiteinstagram) is scheduled to open on Friday. They’re located at 82 Hanover Street in the space formerly occupied by the Banded Brewing tasting room.

Brewer/owner Ryan Dunlap is specializing in lager style beers. The beer list at last weekends industry event included 4 lagers (see below) as well as a radler (beer + lemonade), popcorn and mixed nuts.

Near Argenta in Bayside are Bayside Bowl, Batson River, Wilson County, Leavitt & Sons and Two Fat Cats. They’ve recently been joined by When Pigs Fly. Bar Publica is under construction in the space next to Argenta.

Argenta will be open Tuesday through Sunday, 2 – 9 pm.

Upcoming Events: West African Workshop, Ice Bar, Argenta Opening, Mixology Class

Wednesday – A West African Culinary Workshop and Dinner is taking place in Brunswick in collaboration with Jordan Benissan the chef/owner of Me Lon Togo in Rockland.

Thursday-Saturday – The Inn by the Sea is holding their annual Ice Bar and Seafood Celebration.

Friday – It’s the official opening day at Argenta Brewing (websiteinstagram). Deryck Todd will be leading a mixology class at Bow Street.

Friday/SaturdayUrban Farm Fermentory will be permanently closing their tasting room after a two day party on Saturday and Sunday. They plan to continue production of their cider, gruit, mead, kombucha and jun.

February 27 – Chef Sam Hayward will be participating in a Maine Voices Live event organized by the Press Herald, and La Gallera will be holding a pop-up at Cong Tu Bot.

March 1-12 – The 16th Annual Maine Restaurant Week is taking place.

March 2Dutchman’s will be teaching a bagel making class at the Wolfe’s Neck Center.

March 3Thistle & Grouse and Bissell Brothers are collaborating on a 5-course beer dinner.

March 13Tap & Taste, a gluten-free tasting event, will be taking place at Orange Bike Brewing in collaboration with Mrs. Gee Free Living and 2Gether.

March 28Ballast will be hosting a murder mystery dinner.

April 3 – The Beard Foundation will release the 2024 list of restaurant and chef awards nominees. There are 10 semifinalists from Maine this year.

April 29 – The Good Food Awards winners will be announced. Eight Maine food producers are finalists in the 2024 Good Food awards program.

May 11CiderFeast, an “all-inclusive tasting event celebrates craft ciders from some of the top cider makers in New England and beyond” is taking place.

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

June 10-16Portland Wine Week is taking place.

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.

Review of The Continental

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram has published a 3 star review of The Continental.

In practice more gastro than pub, The Continental is a visually appealing neighborhood restaurant and bar that is slowly … very slowly … figuring out what it wants to be. With that uncertainty come growing pains. Some dishes, like dry boxty (Irish potato pancakes) and tragically overfried chicken schnitzel, should probably be revamped or ditched entirely. Others, like crisp, sticky bread pudding; better-than-average lamb shepherd’s pie; and a knockout pub salad with eggs and tangy pickled beets deserve pride of place on this nominally Irish/British menu.

Helm to Close in March

Helm has announced that they are closing. March 8th will be their last day in business.

Our journey may be complete, but the spirit and memories of the last three years are forever and ever. As you can imagine, I have a million words I could say, and maybe I will someday. But for right now, I just want to say THANK YOU!

Thank you to my staff for being here everyday ready to work hard to feed and nourish while dodging every wrench that has been thrown.

Thank you to our suppliers and farmers who provide the best quality food and drink in Maine.

And thank you to every single person that walked through our doors and took a chance on us.

Helm launched on February 2021, initially serving serving 3-course prix fixe takeout. They’ve earned a reputation for their excellent wine list, seafood-forward menu, contemporary dining room and service.

You can make reservations for their final few weeks on Resy. Helm is holding a beer dinner with Austin Street on February 29th.

Visit by Food & Wine

Food & Wine restaurant editor Raphael Brion (instagram) was in town for a few days this week exploring the Portland food scene. He visited Leeward, Bar Futo, Ugly Duckling, Helm, The Honey Paw, Eventide, Fore Street, Via Vecchia, Room for Improvement, Zu Baker, Tandem, Smalls (where in addition to lunch he had a mini cake from Siblings Bakery), Twelve, and Regards.

Follow along on his travels across the country (and any future return to Portland) via stories on his instagram account.

Maine Food & Dining News: Warren, Windham, Appleton, Standish, Bristol, North Berwick

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

  • Congratulations to Black Goat Test Kitchen. The Midcoast restaurant is one of 47 establishments selected for the USA Today 2024 Restaurants of the Year list.
  • A bakery called Pine Tree Bakery (website, instagram) is under construction at 1557 Bridgton Road in Windham. Owner/baker Lesa Beck is hoping to launch in April when she’ll be selling desserts and pastries (e.g. scones, muffins, cakes, cookies, tarts, Danish, quiche, and cinnamon rolls) as well as hot breakfast sandwiches, espresso-based coffee, soups, salads, and sandwiches.
  • Silly’s fans will want to know that the Silly’s food truck is in operation in Standish. Follow their instagram account for details.
  • The Courrier-Gazette reports that the restaurant Foda in Appleton has closed as the result of a serious accident that befell chef/owner Brian Beggarly in early December. The restaurant and the property it’s on is for sale.
  • The Lincoln County News reports that The Contented Sole is moving to a new location after their original building in Pemaquid Harbor was severely damaged by the storms in January.
  • Green & Healthy magazine has published an article about Community Plate. CP is a non-profit organization that’s organizing potluck dinners all across Maine with the goal of bringing “together people of all ages and backgrounds who gather for unforgettable evenings of homemade food, deep conversations and heartfelt storytelling.”
  • Mainebiz has published an article about Baker Bru, a new bakery under construction in North Berwick which is set to open in March.