Look for a new, year-round, seafood-centric restaurant to open on Portland’s waterfront by the end of the year.

Helm Oyster Bar & Bistro will operate in Wex’s new downtown Portland headquarters. Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Legere and her boyfriend and business partner James Rose plan to open Helm Oyster Bar & Bistro in the new Wex building at 60 Thames St. They describe the restaurant as “an ode to the coast,” although they will also offer a selection of meat and vegetable dishes. The bar will stock natural, biodynamic and organic wines, as well as Maine craft brews and cocktails.

Legere, who said they plan to start construction in a couple of weeks, described the design as “1930s cruiseliner, accenting the full window walls and the height of the space.” The floors will be concrete but the space will be filled with lots of wood and tile, she said.

Helm will have about 50 seats inside, plus 30 seasonal spaces on the outdoor patio and a private dining room for 16-20, Legere said. The couple has set December, before the Christmas holiday, as a target opening date.

Legere has lived in Portland for two years. She worked in the kitchen at Drifters Wife and helped to open that restaurant’s second location. She then moved to More & Co., a café and wine bar in Yarmouth, and recently left that job to focus on Helm full time. Rose worked at Neptune Oyster in Boston for five years before moving to Maine.

Next time, keep your paws off her dessert

Count The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel, 21 Ocean Ave. in Kennebunkport, among the restaurants nationwide that are jumping on the “My Girlfriend’s Not Hungry” bandwagon.

In case you missed it, a Facebook post about a diner in North Little Rock, Arkansas, went viral in June. The post included a photo of a funny menu item at Mama D’s diner: “My Girlfriend is Not Hungry” allows hungry (male) diners to add extra French fries to their entrée, along with two chicken wings or three fried cheese sticks, for just $4.25. The menu item plays on the (tired) old joke that a female customer won’t order anything because she’s “not hungry,” then will proceed to steal food from her boyfriend’s plate. (Where’s the “My Boyfriend Doesn’t Want Dessert” special on the menu?)

Restaurants all over the country, including in New York and Oregon, started creating their own specials. Spanky’s Riptide, a restaurant in Lahaina on Maui, lets customers double their fries, onion rings or tater tots for an extra $3.95. The Tipsy Coyote in Scottsdale, Arizona, has renamed its entire salad menu “My Girlfriend’s Not Hungry.” An angry post on Eater.com tried to explain possible reasons for the practice and called out the trend this way: “Maybe, like many women, she struggles with disordered eating because we live in a society that asks that women be ‘chill’ enough to scarf down pizza but also remain 110 pounds at all times, and she’s stuck in a damned-if-you-do situation where her date will judge her no matter what she orders.”

Yikes. Anyway, The Boathouse now has, on its late-night menu, “Your Girlfriend’s Not Hungry,” which is an order of chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks and “a handful of fries” for $13. Yes, $13. Maybe that should be “My Girlfriend’s Not Hungry on Vacation in Kennebunkport?”

New executive chef at Ocean

Ocean, which like The Boathouse is part of the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, has promoted sous chef Justin Owen to executive chef. Owen is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont and has worked at Ocean since 2013. His new summer menu includes options such as Beet “Carpaccio;” Monkfish with squid ink fettucine, mussels, Parisian vegetables and seafood butter; and Beef Steak with red wine-braised oxtail, asparagus, potatoes and red wine jus.

Ocean is located at 208 Ocean Ave.

Lolita for lease

Lolita, which will close Sept. 2, is up for lease. Derek Davis

Lolita hasn’t closed yet, but the 877-square-foot space is on the market for restaurateurs looking for scarce space on the Portland peninsula. John Golden of Maine Realty Advisors, who is handling the sale, says there’s a $275,000 fixture fee for the 30-seat turnkey operation and the lease rate is $2,700 per month. Golden is handling all inquiries through [email protected] or (207) 838-1667.

Say goodbye to summer with a little swank

The Inn by the Sea, 40 Bowery Beach Road in Cape Elizabeth, will host a “Bid Farewell to Summer” dinner Sept. 22, a benefit for Full Plates, Full Potential. It’s still a month away, but this is one that is likely to sell out quickly, given the chefs involved.

All of the participating chefs have previously showcased Maine food at the James Beard House in New York City: Matt Ginn from Evo Kitchen and Bar, Emil Rivera from Sur Lie, Steve Corry from Five Fifty-Five, Joshua Berry from Union and David Turin from David’s, all in Portland; and, of course, the inn’s own chef, Andrew Chadwick, who cooks at Sea Glass Restaurant. The evening will begin at 5 p.m. with cocktails and appetizers on the inn’s seaside lawn. A five-course dinner under a tent will be served at 6 p.m., with a side of ocean views. The evening also includes music and a live auction, with proceeds going to feed hungry children in Maine.

Tickets cost $150. VIP tickets cost $225 and include, in addition to the dinner, a private reception in an ocean-view suite with an as-yet-unannounced guest chef. A table for eight can be reserved for $1,200, and a VIP table for eight costs $1,800. To buy tickets, go to fullplates.org 

David Turin takes on Guy Fieri

David Turin, chef/owner of David’s in Monument Square, will appear on Guy’s Grocery Games on the Food Network at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

In the episode, called “Battle America,” Fieri brings in chefs from the four corners of the U.S. and asks them to cook their best regional sandwich on a budget, according to the show’s website. In subsequent rounds, the chefs have to make seafood dishes and regional comfort foods. The last chef standing goes on a shopping spree worth up to $20,000.


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