Smoked eel dirty rice from chef Derek Richard at Dickie Steels’ BBQ in Camden. Photo by Gabriela Acero

If you are headed up Camden way soon, check out Dickie Steels’ BBQ, a pop-up (for now) located in the former Drouthy Bear spot at 50 Elm St. The Scottish pub closed last spring, and Derek Richard and Gabriela Acero bought the building to open their own restaurant, a chophouse to be called wolfpeach. The couple hopes to open wolfpeach in November, but until then they are cooking Texas-inspired BBQ takeout from noon to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Richard, a New Jersey native, started his culinary career at the famed Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York, and has worked at other fine-dining restaurants in New York and Austin. In Austin, he also learned how to make proper Texas BBQ. When he moved to Maine, Richard worked at The Honey Paw in Portland for a couple of years, then at Oxbow Beer Garden in Oxford, which is where he met Acero. Acero, who grew up in Maine, has managed many restaurants in New York.

Dickie Steels’ is serving smoked chicken and pulled pork – all the meat comes from local farms – and sides including baked beans made with Maine Grains Marfax beans, and housemade sourdough potato rolls (the chef also likes to bake). More unusual menu items are  (pay attention, vegans) the smoked, pulled oyster mushrooms seasoned with house spice rub, and the smoked eel dirty rice. The dirty rice, Acero said, is made with spiced, smoked American Unagi eel. The rice is cooked with the smoked eel skins, and then combined with local bacon, fried garlic and seasonal vegetables and topped with Jimmy Nardello aioli, pickled cucumbers and pickled red onions. The eel sauce used in the dish is made from the eel bones.

Acero said they hope to add a Monday night pizza night beginning May 10, with two or three pizzas and a salad available for pre-order and pickup.

An interesting note: When wolfpeach opens in the fall, Acero said, it will have a no-tipping policy. She and Richard hope to offer their employees a year-round living wage, along with healthcare and bonuses.

“We own the building, and so that makes an immense difference with regard to the way we can run our finances,” she said. “If we were renting, especially if we were renting in Portland or New York City, there’s no way we could do it.”

The Dickie Steels’ pop-up is accepting tips, but the money goes directly to local nonprofits. This month’s tips are going to Maine Inside Out, a group that collaborates with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people to create original theater.

Openings, reopenings and renovations

The folks at Rosemont Market have been busy. Last month, they announced plans to open a new shop in Scarborough with Harbor Fish Market. Last week, they announced their next project on social media: Rosemont Market & Wine Bar at Thompson’s Point in Portland.

“Our intention for the wine bar space is to create a gathering place for our community to come together and enjoy a glass of wine, some local snacks, and to share the stories of our producers that make Rosemont’s wine program so special,” the post read.

Baharat, the Middle Eastern Restaurant at 91 Anderson St. in Portland, is reopening Friday from 4 to 9 p.m. for takeout and outdoor dining. The restaurant closed in March for a break and to rebuild its outdoor dining area.

We say a fond goodbye to the delicious fried chicken chef Chris Wilcox made all winter at his South Portland restaurant, Judy Gibson. The last batch was served last week. The good news is, the restaurant at 171A Ocean St. will be reopening May 14.

Palace Diner in Biddeford has been closed since April 23 to renovate the diner car, and to give the staff a break. According to the restaurant’s Instagram, the plan is to reopen “around June 14.” When the diner reopens, it will have new floors, lights, walls, and electrical and plumbing.

Chebeague Island Inn is scheduled to open for its summer season on May 15. Matt Ginn, also of Evo in Portland, is the executive chef at the stately 1880s inn, which serves three meals a day and overlooks Casco Bay.

Share your family recipes 

The Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook is serving up a second helping.

Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz, who compiled and edited recipes and stories for the cookbook celebrating Maine’s 200th birthday, are planning a second volume, to be published in April 2022. Beginning on Mother’s Day, anyone with a connection to Maine can submit a recipe, food story or family photos for “Maine Community Cookbook, Volume 2: 200 More Recipes Celebrating Home Cooking in the Pine Tree State.”

The new cookbook, like the first one, will raise money to feed hungry Mainers – $2 from each book will be donated to a nonprofit fighting hunger in the state. The first volume, now in its fourth printing, raised more than $15,000 total for 25 organizations.

To submit your family’s story or recipe, go to maine200cookbook.com. Submissions will be accepted through Labor Day. Recipes can also be mailed to Maine Community Cookbook c/o Rabelais Books, 2 Main St., Suite 18-214, Biddeford, Maine 04005.

Eating seafood pays off

The results are in for the Split the Bill seafood campaign run this winter by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland to bolster seafood sales during the pandemic. Every Thursday from Feb. 18 to March 11, GMRI reimbursed diners half the cost of their takeout and dine-in meals that included Gulf of Maine seafood, up to $30, at 24 Maine restaurants.

GMRI gave back more than $13,000 to nearly 500 diners who participated. Restaurants benefitted from more than $33,000 in sales during the program.

Mother’s Day for (shame on you) last-minute people

Today is the last day for Mother’s Day pre-orders at Dizzy Birds Rotisserie in Biddeford. The restaurant, at 65 Main St., is taking pre-orders for dinners for one or two-plus (up to six), served with a variety of sides and a choice of cornbread or crusty French roll. And it’s not just chicken on the menu. Other options include lamb, filet mignon, and crab-stuffed shrimp. Pickup is from noon to 3 p.m. on Mother’s Day. To check out all the options and pricing, go to dizzybirdsrotisserie.com.


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