Dreaming of summer and eating lots of lobster rolls? Wait no longer. Bite into Maine has reopened The Commissary at 185 Route 1 in Scarborough for takeout orders and curbside pickup. Order online at biteintomaine.com or call (207) 289-6142. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The Bite into Maine’s two food trucks will reappear May 1 – one at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, the other at Allagash Brewing in Portland. Bite into Maine is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Chaval at 58 Pine St. in Portland is taking a page from the kids and going on spring break. The restaurant closed on Easter Sunday and will not reopen until April 20. A post on its Facebook page says the staff  “will be taking a well-deserved rest and be sleeping in, eating, relaxing and chilling.” Sounds good to us!

Isa Bistro, 79 Portland St., which has been offering curbside takeout only, is reopening for indoor and outdoor dining today. Indoor dining will be limited, so it’s probably a good idea to make reservations through the link on the restaurant’s website. Outdoor dining is also limited right now, but will be expanded in May. Isa will continue to offer curbside takeout. Hours are 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Monday; closed Tuesdays.

Lincolns, the Portland speakeasy that sells all drinks for $5, has reopened at its undisclosed (but easily Googled) location with a limited capacity and modified schedule. Hours are 5 p.m. to close Thursday through Sunday. Capacity is 32 – seating room only, and first come, first served.

Onggi, a new fermentation shop (named for a Korean fermentation vessel) and food counter at 93 Washington Ave. (in one of the shipping containers) opened over the weekend. Owned by Amy Ng, Erin Zobitz and Marcus Im, the shop sells fermentation equipment and other items needed to start ferments, as well as small-batch ferments from different makers. And if you need recipes, they have those too. Housemade ferments, such as kimchi, shrubs and hot sauces, will be available in the coming months, along with classes and demonstrations. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The Shop at 123 Washington Ave. has just reopened for takeout and outdoor dining on its expanded patio. During April, you can slurp oysters to your heart’s content from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Monday.

Joining foodie forces

If you missed the big news Friday, Rosemont Market and Harbor Fish Market are teaming up to open a market together in Scarborough sometime in the fall. The project is part of the redevelopment of the former Oak Hill fire and police station by developers Jack Soley and Timothy Hebert, who are transforming the space into a new village center that will also include a fitness center, an outdoor plaza and affordable housing for seniors.

Mike Alfiero, whose family owns Harbor Fish on Custom House Wharf, said he’ll bring a lot of the same concepts from the Portland market to Scarborough, but there will be some changes. The new shop will sell a lot more prepared foods, such as lobster rolls, crab rolls and chowders, he said, and he plans to continue the line of foods the market has been selling during the pandemic, including seafood salads and poke bowls. The market will also sell whole fish for roasting, a concept that has been very popular in the Portland location, Alfiero said.

“There’s going to be a lot of water and a lot of splashing, and gurgling lobster tanks,” he said. “We’re going to create that atmosphere even though it’s not on the water.”

Sean Bartlett (center), galley supervisor at Coast Guard Sector Northern New England in South Portland, teaches culinary specialists Kaley Coco (left) and Silas Williams how to make sushi. Photo courtesy of Sean Bartlett

Local Coast Guard galley making waves

The galley that feeds U.S. Coast Guard personnel in South Portland has received the 2020 Forrest O. Rednour Memorial Award for Dining Facility of the Year.

There are six categories for the awards, depending on the size of the facility and whether it is landlocked or at sea. Coast Guard Sector Northern New England won in the “medium ashore” category.

Pork carnitas served on a home made corn tortilla, topped with pickled red onions, a fresh salsa verde, cilantro and onions, with a side of Mexican street corn. Photo courtesy of Sean Bartlett

Galley supervisor Sean Bartlett said the award comes with “a bit of bragging rights,” and that being selected involves more than just food and menus. The national team that chooses the winners, he said, evaluates everything from the procurement process and composting programs to staff training and the overall cleanliness of the facility. “They go through a whole year’s paperwork to make sure that what you’re doing on the procurement side is up to snuff,” he said. “It’s not just people putting out amazing food, but everything else behind the scenes.”

Bartlett, who has been in the Coast Guard for almost 18 years, taught at the Coast Guard’s culinary school in California for three years before coming to South Portland last year. He’s tried to update the menu in South Portland during his time here.

“We’ll have sushi one day, and the next day we’ll have pad Thai,” he said. “The next day we’ll have traditional el pastor tacos on our rotating spit. We make all of our tortillas from scratch. The next day we’ll do a lobster roll. Throughout the week, I’ll have three to four different types of food from around the world.”

The South Portland facility feeds 25 people for breakfast and 35-60 people for lunch, Bartlett said. The cafe is closed for dinner, but staff working dinner hours can order from an a la carte menu that has about 10 items, including burgers and wraps.

Prices are a bargain: Active duty personnel pay just $2.65 for breakfast and $4.65 for lunch and dinner. Last Thursday, lunch was a sous vide prime rib with a red wine reduction and garlic red mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, dinner rolls and a Caesar salad. This week, the lunch menu features a carne asada burrito on Tuesday, a “Sector Fil-A” chicken sandwich on Wednesday, and shrimp scampi made to order on Thursday.

“It’s a great value, and the only way we’re able to do that is because, unlike a regular restaurant, we don’t have to pay overhead costs,” Bartlett said. “I don’t have to pay salary, I don’t have to pay to keep the lights on, I don’t have to pay for my storefront. All of that is taken care of through the Coast Guard. So all we have to worry about with the money we bring in is literally paying for food costs. So we are pretty lucky on that aspect of things.”

Bartlett said that when the pandemic is over, he hopes to open up the dining facility to first responders from Portland and South Portland. They’ll pay a couple dollars more, but it will still be a good deal.

The Coast Guard Sector Northern New England galley recently launched its own Instagram account. To see what’s cooking, go to @uscg_snne_galley.

A beer by any other name …

The Maine Brew Bus has changed its name to Maine Brews Cruise to align the Maine business with the national company it acquired last year.

The Maine Brew Bus has a new name – Maine Brews Cruise – and a new logo. Courtesy of Maine Brews Cruise

Zach Poole, founder of the Maine Brew Bus, partnered with Dave Phillips of Sydney, Australia, last year to acquire Brews Cruise Inc., a company that licenses and supports craft beverage tour operators all over the United States. Phillips said in a news release that little will change with the Maine tours. “It will be the same great people providing high-quality tours and experiences, just under a new name and logo that has a national identity,” he said.

During the pandemic, the Maine tours have focused on walking, biking, running, sailing and boat cruise tours. Bus tours for private parties are expected to resume in early summer.

Don Littlefield, who has worked for the Maine Brew Bus company for years, will manage both the local and national Brews Cruise operations. Brews Cruise now has tour operations in eight U.S. cities.

Allagash brews up new recycling program

Today just happens to be National Beer Day, a great time to share this news: Recently, I wrote about the recycling program at Allagash Brewing Co. in Portland. The program rewards customers with discounts when they drop off beer-related recyclables such as the metal cages on top of a bottle of beer. Now the company is expanding that program, inviting smaller local breweries to join a recycling co-op.

Brewery materials such as shrink wrap, Paktech carriers, corks and metal caps are difficult to recycle; either local recycling companies can’t process them, or they need to be collected in bulk. Breweries that join the co-op will drop off their recyclables at the Allagash warehouse so they can go to a processor in bulk. So far Maine Beer Co., Bissell Brothers and Foundation Brewing Co. have joined the new co-op. Other breweries who wish to join should contact Tom Halstead at [email protected].

A virtual ice bar during ice out

It’s April, and a pandemic is still raging, but that’s not stopping the Portland Harbor Hotel from hosting its annual ice bar. This year, though, the party is online, comes with prizes and benefits a great local charity – Full Plates Full Potential, a nonprofit that is working to end childhood hunger. Go to fullplates.tapkat.org/winportlandmainegetaway and select a donation amount – $25, for example, will get you 12 tickets. Donations close at noon April 19, and winners will be drawn an hour later.

The grand prize is three nights at the Portland Harbor Hotel (you’ll be greeted with a bottle of champagne); two breakfasts for two and two dinners for two at BlueFin, the hotel’s restaurant; two tickets for a Portland lighthouse tour; admission for two to the Portland Museum of Art; a box of artisan chocolates; and complimentary parking for three nights. The second place winner will get a scaled-down version of the grand prize – a two-night stay, for example, instead of three.

New online Asian market

Sun Market, an Asian grocery store at 646 Congress St., has just launched a new online ordering system at sunmarket.online.

The site is selling everything from noodles and frozen dumplings to woks and teapots.


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