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.

A Mr. Tuna Update

Mr. Tuna will be taking over the former Solo Cucina market (photo on left) in South Portland. They will be using the space as a production kitchen and headquarters for their mobile food and catering/private events business.

Separately, Mr. Tuna is making good progress on the buildout of their Middle Street restaurant (photo on right). They hope to open sometime in May. The new restaurant will seat 26 overall—a 14-seat bar and banquet table seating in the front windows. Sidewalk outdoor seating will be available as well.

The Mr. Tuna location in Monument Square will be closing in March in anticipation of the move to Middle Street and South Portland.

Solo Cucina was opened by the owners of Solo Italiano on March 25, 2020, and it closed in January 2024.

Cherished Pub Opened Sunday

Cherished Pub opened for business on Sunday. The all-day restaurant begins to address the scarcity of food service establishments in the North Deering.

Located at 64 Auburn Street adjacent to Cherished Possessions, they’re is almost two restaurants in one. During breakfast and lunch hours (7:30 am – 1 pm) they serve a Bayou Kitchen 2 menu—having licensed the Bayou Kitchen menu and recipes from the Woodfords Corner restaurant. The Bayou Kitchen 2 menu includes a wide range of breakfast dishes (omelets, pancakes, hash, French toast, huevos rancheros, etc) and ‘Cajun Classics’ lunch dishes like gumbo, jambalya and chicken piquant. In the afternoon/evening (2 – 10 pm) the Cherished Pub menu (see below) includes options like fish and chips, a muffuletta, a reuben and steak tips with mushroom and onions. A few carryovers from the Bayou lunch menu are available as well.

The 1,805 sq ft space includes table seating for 66 and a 9-seat bar. They plan on having outdoor seating as the weather warms up.

Cherished Pub/Bayou Kitchen 2 is closed on Monday. They’ll be reopening Tuesday 7:30 am – 1 pm and 2 – 10 pm. They hope to eventually be open 7 days a week.