Cong Tu Bot’s new menu will leave behind some familiar favorites like pho as it tweaks its concept and reestablishes itself as an indoor dining restaurant starting this Friday.

Rare beef salad with fermented shrimp paste and pineapple sauce, among the dishes the team at Cong Tu Bot will debut starting Friday. Photo courtesy of Cong Tu Bot

Chef and co-owner Vien Dobui said the restaurant had been closed for about three weeks for minor renovations changing over this week to a small, shared plates menu with a carefully considered beverage program. Cong Tu Bot had been takeout-only for more than a year due to the pandemic, but now will be in-house dining only, putting takeout service on pause.

“Really, I’m ready for a major change,” said Dobui, a James Beard Award-nominated chef. “We’ve been doing the same core dishes for five years now. Still, it’s a really scary feeling to let go of these recipes.”

He said noodle mains like stir fries and bowls of pho will not be part of the new concept right now, though they may be integrated back into the menu at some later point.

Dobui said his team is now turning its attention to dishes like a rare beef salad, featuring a tender, flavorful cut from the chuck primal called Denver steak, along with shrimp paste and pineapple sauce. Another new dish: cured scallops dressed with fermented tofu and herb paste.

The small hot and cold plates will be anchored on the menu by a selection of starchy sides, like garlic fried rice and rice noodles in peanut sauce, dishes meant to add more heft to the meal, if desired.


The new iteration of Cong Tu Bot will also place more emphasis on drinks, with a beverage program run by Hannah Hermes, Ashley Ogando and Matthew Im. The balance between drinks and small plates lends “more fluidity and openness to a meal,” Dobui said.

Along with its new focus, the restaurant is switching back to full indoor dining, which it dabbled with earlier this year. Dobui canvassed his staff about their comfort level working indoors this winter.

“We’ve all grown to live with (COVID) more. Everyone’s risk tolerance had changed to where we’re OK with doing more indoor stuff,” Dobui said, noting that the small space holds about 40 people, including 15 customers at the kitchen-facing counter.

Cong Tu Bot will be open Friday through Monday from 5 to 9 p.m.


Portland Pie Company will open its ninth and biggest location in Falmouth’s former Ricetta’s later this month.


Portland Pie Company CEO Jeff Perkins said the new 6,000-square-foot location hosts up to 180 people and is about 1,500 square feet larger than any of his group’s eight other venues. Ricetta’s closed in Falmouth in early October, and Perkins said Portland Pie took over the lease on the location Oct. 13.

“We’d always wanted to be in Falmouth, but it just didn’t make sense for us to go head to head with Ricetta’s there,” Perkins said.

The turnaround may be complete by the last week in November, he said, barring further construction delays. Staffing is in place already for the Falmouth location.

“We were able to retain almost everybody who wanted to work with us,” Perkins said, estimating that 75 percent of the former Ricetta’s staff initially signed on with Portland Pie Company, though some have fallen away since.


Tally’s Kitchen owner Julie Walsh is opening a second location of her popular breakfast and lunch boutique, this one in the Stevens Square Community Center, next week.


The nearly 1,000-square-foot space opens onto an atrium, with open seating for about 50 at the mixed-use community center. Until the new team gets up to speed, Walsh expects to launch with a limited menu starting Monday, including all of Tally’s usual house-baked goods, along with a smaller selection of sandwiches, soups and salads.

Called Tally’s Kitchen at Stevens Square, to distinguish it from her Marginal Way location in Bayside, the new eatery has been more than two years in the making, Walsh said.

“We originally started the project when COVID hit, so everything was obviously put on hold,” she said. “Then, from the contractors to the permits, everything has been delayed, like it has been everywhere.”

The new Tally’s will be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Walsh said she anticipates opening on Saturdays as well to feed shoppers at the winter Portland Farmers’ Market.

“We’ll be growing with the demands of the community and the needs of the neighborhood,” Walsh said. “We have quite a captive audience here.”



If you’re looking to celebrate Thanksgiving out on the town, here are a few spots in the area offering dinner specials on Thursday, Nov. 24:

Wayside Tavern, 747 Congress St., will serve a multi-course traditional Thanksgiving feast for $85, excluding beverage and tip. Reservations available online.

Union, 390 Congress St., features a three-course, $79 dinner from noon to 6 p.m. Call (207) 808-8700 for more information and reservations.

Saltwater Grille, 231 Front St., South Portland, offers a three-course dinner with your choice of roasted turkey, roasted ham, seared salmon or a vegetable Napoleon ($55-$65). Make reservations at (207) 799-5400.

Petit Jacqueline, 46 Market St., will serve a three-course dinner, with reservations available on Resy.

Harbor Bistro and Terrace, 468 Fore St., features a four-course dinner for $85. Call (207) 523-2004 for reservations.

The Burleigh at the Kennebunkport Inn, 1 Dock Square, Kennebunkport, is serving Thanksgiving dinner from noon until 5 p.m. Make reservations or view the menu online.

Ocean at Cape Arundel Inn & Resort, 208 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport, will offer a three-course menu from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. for $105. Make reservations online.

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