Havana South, the highly anticipated new restaurant at 44-50 Wharf St. in Portland, starts a series of invitation-only events and soft openings tonight.

Workers have been scrambling the past week to put the finishing touches on the place, which is scheduled to open to the public Tuesday. The $500,000 project is bringing 60 new full-time jobs to Portland.

A recent peek inside revealed that the new Havana South is sharing the signature colors of its sister restaurant, Havana, in Bar Harbor — mandarin red and charcoal gray — but has its own architectural details.

Owner Michael Boland has scoured the city for items he could use in the 140-year-old building, including funky antique doors he’s placed at every stall in both large bathrooms. Huge Portugese-style doors that look as if they could lead to a dungeon in a castle, or someplace equally as fanciful, will hide shelves of wine.

The long bar is made with wood from a 100-year-old monastery, and has an antique back bar hanging behind it.

Just off the bar is a prep area where Boland hopes to open a butcher shop by Sept. 1. Passersby will be able to look in from the sidewalk and watch the butcher and cooks in action.

The head chef is Joe Boudreau, formerly of Mims in Portland and the Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth. The food, Boland said, will be American cuisine with a Latin twist. Think filet mignon with an adobo rub, or a hanger steak with a chimmichurri sauce.

Latin fare will be represented by a Peruvian seafood paella, made with dende oil to give it a rustic flavor. Also on the menu will be a Brazilian stew known as moqueca.

Entrees will range from $18 to $28, with most falling in the $20 to $25 range.

Havana South will be open for dinner only at first, but should be open for lunch by July 1.

For reservations, call 772-9988.

 

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: [email protected]