The dining room at the Elda in Biddeford. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Elda, a fine-dining restaurant that opened in Biddeford in 2017 and helped to spur that city’s restaurant boom, is relocating to Portland.

Chef and co-owner Bowman Brown said Friday that he and his wife, co-owner Anna Brown, had purchased space at 34 Portland St. and tentatively plan to reopen the restaurant in August, with reservations becoming available in June.

In January, the Browns closed Jackrabbit Cafe, their Scandinavian-style bakeshop and eatery located in the same Main Street building as Elda.

Elda offered a higher-end dining experience than much of what is available in Biddeford, serving prix-fixe menus that cost upwards of $200.

The restaurants are among those credited with accelerating the recent culinary renaissance in Biddeford, which was included in the 2022 list of America’s next great food cities, published by national magazine Food & Wine.

Brown said that once Jackrabbit closed, it no longer made sense for the couple to lease out that large of a building, where they also have been living. They’re in the process of moving to Portland, he said.


Brown said that, as much growth as the Biddeford restaurant scene has had, the city’s population hasn’t kept pace in order to sustain that many dining options.

“It’s like there are more and more slices of pie, but not enough people, yet, to eat them,” he said. Additionally, he said, Biddeford’s restaurant scene was too seasonal.

In Portland, Elda will not have to take seasonal breaks like it did in Biddeford, he said.

The menu is not slated for any major changes. “It will be mainly seafood with some meat and vegetables, just like it’s always been,” said Brown.

However, customers can expect a decrease in the price. The Portland location is substantially smaller, meaning that the owners will be able to save money by having a smaller staff and buying less produce, which will help lower costs for customers, he said.

“I want people leaving thinking the experience was so great that it should have cost more; I want it to feel like they’re walking away with a bargain,” Brown said.

Before opening Elda and Jackrabbit, Brown was the chef and co-owner of Forage in Salt Lake City and was a six-time semifinalist for the James Beard Award’s Best Chef: Southwest category.

Press Herald restaurant critic Andrew Ross named Elda among the top 10 on his list of Best 75 restaurants in Greater Portland, published this week.

“It’s hard to overstate Brown’s tremendous skill and creativity at marrying Scandinavian, Maine and Japanese inspirations in his soignee prix-fixe menu at Elda, a special-occasion restaurant if there ever was one. Suffice it to say that, while Elda is expensive, it remains one of the very best restaurants in New England,” wrote Ross.

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