Maxwell’s Farm Closing

Maxwell’s Farm shared the sad new that this was the final year in business for their Cape Elizabeth strawberry farm.

…Believe when we say, we feel the weight of nine generations in this decision. The lives of Ken, Elsie, Bill, Lois, Joel, and Joy have revolved around their faith, their family, and this farm. Due to growing challenges for small family farms and increasing barriers at most every turn, we’ve found it impossible to balance these three pillars. We have poured love, stress, sweat, sleepless nights, and so much more into this land, this lifestyle, and this community. After years of painstaking consideration and attempts to adapt to the challenges of farming in the current landscape, we have come to the very hard decision to close Maxwell’s Farm…

See the full announcement on facebook and on instagram.

Interview with Rob Evans and Nancy Pugh

The Maine Sunday Telegram has published an interview with Rob Evans and Nancy Pugh, the recently retired former owners of Hugo’s and founders of Duckfat.

This spring, Evans, 60, and Pugh, 57, sold the Duckfat properties and left restaurant life behind to focus on building a home on their property in western York County. We sat down with the couple recently to talk about how they got their starts in the industry, how working in some of the country’s most elite restaurants prepared Evans for Hugo’s, the challenges facing married restaurateurs, and what Portland’s restaurant scene might look like in the years to come.

Evans and Pugh moved to Portland and took over Hugo’s in 2000 and for nearly a quarter of a century were central figures in the Portland restaurant community. The couple launched Duckfat in 2005 and Duckfat Frites Shack on Washington Ave in 2018. Evans was a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2004, and he won a James Beard award in the Best Chef North East category in 2009. They sold Duckfat and the Frites Shack and retired in Late April.

Rabelais Now Open

Rabelais Books (websitefacebookinstagram) opened for business on Friday. The culinary bookstore is located at 93 Washington Ave in one of the Black Box shipping container spaces.

Bookseller Don Lindgren has stocked the shop with printed books, ephemera and manuscripts spanning across the past six centuries and covering a wide range of culinary subjects from mushrooms and mixology to farming and food photography, and of course cookbooks covering nearly every corner of the globe.

This Rabelais pop-up shop will be in business now through the end of September, Wednesday through Monday, 11 am – 7 pm.

For more information on Rabelais and Lindgren see this article from June.

New Food Trucks: Toku Truck & Vendredi’s

Here’s a look at two of the food trucks that have launched in Portland this year.

The Toku Truck (website, instagram, order online) was launched in early June by chef/owner Felicia Dumont. Dumont previously ran Harvest Bar in Bethel and since moving to Portland has worked at The Shop. When you go, be sure to try the delicious roasted veggie sandwich (shown here topped with blackened shrimp). The name of business is a reference to Dumont’s family heritage and means wave in the Passamaquoddy language. You can find the Toku Truck at 82 Parris Street in West Bayside. They’re open Tuesday through Saturday, 8 am – 3 pm.

Vendredi’s (website, instagram) is operated by Matt Lair with Michael Irish. Their burgers are gaining some ardent fans which shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise once you learn that Lair worked for acclaimed Chicago burger restaurant Au Cheval prior to moving to Portland. Vendredi’s is open today 4 – 11 pm. They’ll be launching a new Sunday brunch service this weekend 11 am – 4 pm with coffee from the Side by Side (website, instagram) cart. Vendredi’s is located at Oxbow on Washington Ave.

Maine Food & Dining News: Rockland, Phillips, Wiscasset, Bangor, Van Buren

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

  • The Courier-Gazette reports that the owners of the Sterlingtown Public House are planning to open a second location for their restaurant The Spot (instagram) in Rockland. The original The Spot is located in the town of Washington.
  • The Bangor Daily News reports that the Northern Maine Kolache Co. has begun construction on a new building in Van Buren. Owner Donita Ayotte expects to move her business to the new location in 2025.
  • Tuesday’s segment of Maine Calling on Maine Public Radio explored listeners Favorite Eats in Maine with guests Press Herald food editor Peggy Grodinsky and author Mike Urban.
  • The Lincoln County News has published an article about the new Aekeir Brewing tasting room in Wiscasset.
  • Clifford’s Donut Stop in Phillips launched this week.
  • The Bangor Daily News reports that a new business called Mainely Juice is under construction in downtown Bangor and expected to launch next month.

For a statewide guide to eating and drinking see the Maine Food Map—a growing list of coffee shops, bars, restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and other food and dining businesses in all of Maine’s 16 counties.

Observer: Where to Eat in Maine

The Observer has published an eating guide to Maine.

Over the last decade, Maine has transformed from a quiet coastal retreat to a culinary powerhouse, luring food enthusiasts with the promise of oceanic delights and forest-foraged treasures. Its geography reads like a chef’s wish list: rugged coastlines teeming with seafood, pristine forests hiding wild edibles and fertile farmland bursting with fresh produce. From the iconic Maine lobster to the coveted Damariscotta oysters, the state’s cold, clean waters serve up nature’s finest.

The article highlights: Bite into Maine, White Barn Inn, Primo Restaurant, Havana, Mr. Tuna, Highroller Lobster Co., Earth at Hidden Pond, The Alna Store, Aragosta, The Lost Kitchen, Long Grain, Bombay Mahal, Oxbow Beer Garden, Leeward, Eventide Oyster Co., Crown Jewel, and Chez Rosa.

Upcoming Food & Dining Events

July 19-21 – The Yarmouth Clam Festival is taking place.

July 24 – Christina Zani from Pasta Night (instagram) in Philadelphia will be holding a pasta making workshop and dinner at Subcircle Residency in Biddeford.

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

August 3/4 – The Maine Wild Blueberry Weekend is taking place.

August 30September 1 – The Maine Apple Camp is taking place.

September 8 – The Maine Cheese Festival is taking place in Pittsfield.

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

October 13 – The 16th Annual Open Creamery Day is taking place.

Lil Chippy Now Open

A  new fish and chips shop called Lil Chippy (website, instagram) opened for business on Friday. They’re located at 52 Washington Ave in the space formerly occupied by Radici (and before that Terlingua). The restaurant will be open Wednesday through Sunday, noon – 8 pm.

Owners Ashley Wolf and William Durst have lightly renovated the space. In addition to bar and table seating there are three sidewalk picnic tables for outdoor seating.

Fish and chips is the signature dish on the menu (see below). Durst and Wolf are also serving a variety of buddy sandwiches, salads and crudos, sides, and a selection of wine, beer and non-alcoholic drinks.

Wolf was previously the GM of Liquid Riot and when the couple lived in Vermont she was the GM at Hen of the Woods in Waterbury. Durst also worked at Hen of the Woods, and was the original chef at Bistro Leluco is South Portland when it opened in 2023.


Looking Back at June 2009, 2014, and 2019

The Portland Food Map archive  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 June 2009, 2014 and 2019:

  • Governor Baldacci signed into law LD 904 which empowered breweries to sell half gallon containers of beer (aka growlers).
  • Shannon Tallman launched a food blog called Edible Obsessions. Tallman shared at the time that she may gush about foie gras but is more likely write about “fried bologna sandwiches (slathered with butter, like how Mom made them)”.
  • Construction got underway for Figa, a restaurant being launched by chef Lee Farrington. These days Farrington and her partner Bryna Gootkind operate LB Kitchen.
  • The West End Neighborhood Association produced a 60 foot lobster roll in an attempt to set a new world’s record. In 2017 Shediac held the record with a 180 foot lobster roll. A note from 2024: this seems like a record the people of Portland should work  together to reclaim. As Atlas Obscura pointed out the biggest challenge is in baking a single continuous roll, but with the amazing baking talent in the Portland area certainly that’s an obstacle that can be overcome.
  • The Out on a Limb rare apple CSA was announced in 2009. Shares were $120 and promised to participants  “30-40 varieties of rare, interesting and highly flavored apples over the course of the season accompanied by a newsletter with descriptions, history, tidbits and lore about each variety, as well as recipes and ideas for how to best use them.” The apple CSA continues to this day—here’s how to sign-up.
  • In 2009, The Salt Exchange opened for business on June 8th, Kon Asian Bistro on June 9th, and Otto Pizza opened on June 17th.
  • In 2014 Lolita opened on June 1st, the Fishin’ Ships food truck was launched by Arvid Brown and Sam Gorelick, The King’s Head opened. Also in June 2014 Clayton Norris and Jenna Friedman launched the CN Shwarma food truck which a few years later scaled up to become Baharat. Slab opened for business on June 18th, and the Hilltop Superette on June 30th.
  • Uncle Andy’s Diner was featured in an episode of television show Restaurant Impossible.
  • Chef Yana Gilbuena brought her 50-state SALO Filipino pop-up dinner series to Portland.
  • Speckled Ax held a Panamanian/Gesha coffee tasting.
  • Family Feast served an Indonesian prix fixe dinner at The Well in 2014. Family Feast organizers Thomas & Mariah Pisha-Duffly have since gone on to launch several award winning restaurants in Oregon including Gado Gado, Oma’s Hideaway and The Houston Blacklight.
  • Will Garfield and Masa Miyake ended their 8-year business partnership in 2014. While Miyake and Pai Men weren’t impacted, the change did result in the closure of Miyake Diner.
  • A new food cart called A&C Food Factory launched on June 4th 2019. The West End LB Kitchen, the Forest Ave Blake Orchard and the Tacos La Poblanita food truck launched. Coals Pizza also opened in June as did the Island Lobster Co. Yardie Ting opened in the Public Market House on June 15th, Banh Appetit opened on June 23rd, and Lorne Wine in Biddeford on the 30th. Huong’s also launched an ice cream shop in June 2019.
  • Construction got underway for Erika Colby’s restaurant cider bar Anoche.

Review of Asian Combo in Biddeford

The Maine Sunday Telegram includes a review of Asian Combo in Biddeford.

Pan-Asian restaurants can be hit-or-miss, often over the course of the same meal. Biddeford’s Asian Combo, a casual, counter-service restaurant on Pool Street that opened in October, is no exception. What’s different here is that, among slapdash fresh rolls with off-putting radicchio and lackluster crispy pad thai, are a few first-rate dishes.