Tom Minervino and his partners in Legends Rest in Westbrook – his sister Meg Minervino and business partner Mike Barton – have leased 51 Wharf St. in Portland, where they plan to open a tavern later this year.

“Our goal is May, but these things always take longer than you expect,” he said.

The space, which used to be 51 Wharf Restaurant & Ultra Lounge, has been empty since fall 2016 and requires some renovations, Minervino said. The new place, tentatively named the Wharf Street Rathskeller, will share a wall with Jefe Juan’s, a new burrito restaurant. “Our space is kind of subterranean,” Minervino said. “You have to go down a few steps.”

The restaurant will have 45 seats total, 20 at the bar, and 25 at tables.

Though casual, the Wharf Street Rathskeller will be a step up from Legends Rest and Tomaso’s Canteen in the Old Port, Minervino said. (The Minervino siblings are also partners, along with other family members, in Tomaso’s).  “Kind of a classic tavern menu is what we’re shooting for,” he said.

Portland area chef moves to Damariscotta

Chef Nick Krunkkala, who has cooked at Oscar’s New American in Yarmouth (which he also owned) and at Liquid Riot in Portland, has teamed up with the owners of the Newcastle Publick House to open the Oysterhead Pizza Company at 189 Main St. in downtown Damariscotta.

Krunkkala’s pies, made in a brick oven, include some unusual combinations, like the Maine Woods, with venison sausage, goat cheese, dried wild Maine blueberries, mushroom duxelles, juniper steak sauce and spruce vinegar pickled leeks. His Oysterhead Pie is made with house ricotta, poached Damariscotta river oysters and pickled mustard seeds. He’s making all the sausage in house and also offering small wood-fired plates such as sumac-roasted cauliflower with feta cheese mousse, and lamb meatballs with goat cheese bechamel. Oysterhead Pizza is open from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Farther north …

Mandy Fountaine, owner of Bar Harbor Catering Co., is taking over Abel’s on Mount Desert Island. Photo by Closer North

Chef Mandy Fountaine, owner of Bar Harbor Catering Co., is taking over Abel’s Lobster, the 81-year-old lobster pound and restaurant beloved by both islanders and tourists.

Abel’s, located in the Henry R. Abel & Co. boatyard on Somes Sound, sells lobster and other Maine seafood. Fountaine says she plans to continue the traditional lobster pound vibe but add a few “more modern options” to the menu, such as lobster sausage and alternatives to the traditional drawn butter. For instance, she’s considering serving pinch bowls of the Japanese spice togarashi (but made with Maine seaweed), for an unexpected enhancement to the butter. Matthew Leddy, executive chef for the Bar Harbor Catering Co., is helping Fountaine develop the menu. Leddy has previously worked at Farmstead in Providence and Townsman in Boston.

The 100-seat restaurant will remain largely untouched, except for a few cosmetic updates. Fountaine is leasing the space from the Henry R. Abel Boat Yard.

The new Abel’s will open on Father’s Day weekend in June and remain open through September. Hours will be noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Props on the clever name

Already ready for spring? Here’s a snowless excursion to dream about all winter. Tickets go on sale today for a new wine festival in Portland called Uncork ME, which will be held May 23.

Admission to the festival, to be held from 4 to 7 p.m at the Portland Expo Center, is $45. That price buys you a glass you can use for unlimited sampling of local wines and spirits. If you taste something you like, bottles will be available for purchase. More than a dozen wineries and distilleries have signed on so far, many of them from other parts of the state, so this would be a good time to sample wines you haven’t been able to try. The vendors include Winterport Winery, Two Hogs Winery in Vassalboro, Tree Spirits Winery & Distillery (known for its absinthe) in Oakland, The Fat Friar Meadery in Newcastle, Hidden Spring Winery in East Hodgdon, and Solar Rock Winery in Dayton.

Podcast tells Maine’s food story

Cherie Scott of Boothbay, who has been interviewing chefs, restaurateurs and other culinary notables in a live series at the Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta called “Talking Food in Maine,” has launched a podcast celebrating Maine’s bicentennial.

Maine’s Bicentennial Food Podcast, part of Scott’s “Mumbai to Maine” brand, can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn and Google Play. The first three guests are Susan Axelrod, food editor of Maine Magazine; Sarah and Bryce Hach, co-founders of the Maine Food for Thought tours in Portland; and chocolatier Kate McAleer, founder of Bixby & Co. in Rockland. Future guests include Jim Stott and Jonathan King, founders of Stonewall Kitchen, and Melissa Kelly of Primo.

Scott also writes a food blog and teaches Indian cooking at Stonewall Kitchen in York.

Free coffee Thursday

Aroma Joe’s is celebrating the first anniversary of its partnership with the Rainforest Alliance by giving away free 16-ounce cups of coffee – hot or iced – on Thursday.

Since last year, the company has been serving coffee made from sustainably and ethically sourced beans certified by the Rainforest Alliance. For its one-year “BeanAversary,” you can also get a cup for a friend. Pick up a pre-stamped post card with a free coffee coupon at any Aroma Joe’s location, the company suggests, and pass it along to someone who “has made a positive difference” in your life. Finally, get a chance to win free coffee for a year – a $1,000 value that amounts to one free cup per day – by posting a picture with a BeanAversary sticker (handed out with the free coffee Thursday) on social media.

Founded in Portland, Aroma Joe’s now has 67 locations in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Maine’s Industry Chef of the Year

Andrew Chadwick was voted the first Maine Chef of the Year by Industry, an online network of hospitality professionals.. Photo courtesy of Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Andrew Chadwick, executive chef at Seaglass, the restaurant at the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, has been named Maine’s first Industry Chef of the Year.

Industry is a nationwide online network of hospitality professionals. More than 3,000 chefs were nominated for this inaugural award, and more than 150,000 votes were cast. One chef was named the winner in each state.

Sad news …

Chef Adam White, who last worked in Portland at The Salt Exchange on Commercial Street, died last Friday. Condolences have been pouring in for his family on Facebook, but as of press time, we were unable to learn details of his death. Jones, Rich & Barnes Funeral Home in Portland is in charge of arrangements. A funeral home spokeswoman said a full obituary will not be posted, and no services are scheduled at this time. White, who was known for his gentle spirit, was 58.

 

 

 

 

 


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