Until the pandemic, the summer Portland Farmers’ Market was held in Monument Square. This photo from our archives was taken in 2019. Now, farmers will return to the square. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The seasonal arts-based outdoor marketplace known as Monument(al) Market in the Square will include farmer vendors this year, according to market organizers.

Portland Downtown Executive Director Cary Tyson said he hopes to sign on six to 10 farmers for the market, which will be held Fridays from June 14 through October from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tyson said Portland Downtown is offering to pay half of the $100 city permit fee for the first 10 farmers who commit to the market in Monument Square this year, and that interested vendors can apply online.

“In my fantasy, I’d love to fill the entire Monument Square with makers and farmers, but if I can get six to 10 farmers I’d be thrilled,” Tyson said.

Monument Square was the site of the Wednesday Portland summer farmers markets in the years before 2020. But with COVID, the market moved to Deering Oaks, where the Saturday market is also held, to make social distancing easier. Though the pandemic ended, it never moved back.

The Monument(al) Market will still have local makers. Portland Downtown has hosted the makers’ market for the last two years, which Tyson said usually featured between six and 10 vendors.

Tyson noted that the addition of farm stands to the market is part of a continuing effort to “bring vibrancy to one of our city’s most compelling plazas.” City officials are also taking measures to prevent parking violations in the Square so the space can be as pedestrian-friendly as possible.

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“It’s one more reason to get tourists out of the Old Port and into the arts and government district,” he said.

HOBBIT-CORE BRUNCH SPOT FOR BRUNSWICK

A hobbit-themed all-day cafe and bakery is planned for downtown Brunswick this summer.

Named Elevenses, the new venue will be located at 50 Maine St., in the former Kings & Queens barber shop. Co-owner Nicole Juntura said the restaurant will focus on brunch.

“We wanted to bring brunch to Brunswick because it is currently missing,” she said.

Juntura said she and her husband, Chris, already have a literary-themed food truck, Plot Twist Pretzels, and wanted the restaurant to riff off that, with its “hobbit-core” theme inspired by Tolkien’s fantasy novels.

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“It’s hard to pull off because it’s such a crazy theme, though it’s still managed to be relevant,” she said. “And we thought it’d be fun to have a slightly British aspect to the menu too.”

Elevenses will offer classic brunch dishes like eggs Benedict, along with more British offerings like Scotch eggs and a full English breakfast. They’ll also serve grab-and-go sandwiches and soups, and specialty coffee and tea beverages. The menu will feature plenty of Tolkien-based punny names, like Desolation of Smaug for its artisanal hot chocolate.

“We want to take the quality really seriously, but we want it to feel fun,” Juntura said.

The venue can seat about 75 inside, with more outdoor seating available. Elevenses will be open seven days from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and the owners hope to launch in the early summer.

MÁGISSA OPENING IN EAST BAYSIDE 

Mágissa, the new Greek restaurant from the people behind the Greeks of Peaks food truck, is to open in East Bayside on Thursday.

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The restaurant is located at 91 Anderson St., the former home of Full Turn, and Baharat before that. Co-owner Nancy Klosteridis said Mágissa’s menu is “an expansion of the family recipes we’ve been serving on the food truck for the last seven years now. We have a lot more space here to play with.”

Inside Magissa on Anderson St., shown during a recent soft opening. Courtesy of Magissa

Dishes run from about $6-$18 and include a variety of small plates like spanakopita and braised gigante beans, a selection of mezze, and large plates like Stuffed Eggplant and Paros Chicken. Klosteridis has said that she wanted the restaurant to be reasonably priced while still using high-quality products, so that it can be “a place you can afford to eat more than once a week.”

Co-owner and pastry chef Emily Otero will handle the restaurant’s desserts, including baklava and a rosemary-lemon-pistachio pavlova. The restaurant will offer beer, wine and Greek-themed cocktails.

The restaurant has seating inside for 49 and will also offer outdoor seating.

Mágissa will be open Thursday through Monday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to start. Klosteridis said the restaurant will offer lunch service and open at 11 a.m. for the summer.

OFF TRACK PIZZA LAUNCHES IN OLD PORT

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Filling the void for late-night slices in Old Port since Pat’s Pizza and Old Port Slice Bar closed, Off Track Pizza launched recently on Exchange Street.

The new pizzeria opened last Friday at 15 Exchange St., the former site of Lupita’s (and the original home of Walter’s years before).

Off Track specializes in New York-style slices, and will soon offer whole pies, as well. The menu includes salads and also features focaccia sandwiches – weekdays for now. Once they line up a baker for Saturday and Sunday, the sandwiches will be available weekends, too.

The beverage program features a selection of five housemade bottled cocktails. The two-story restaurant has seating for up to 40 customers inside.

“The vibe of this place is working out really well,” said co-owner Mitchell Ryan. “There’s a ton of room for a family to come sit upstairs and enjoy that atmosphere.”

Off Track is open Wednesday through Sunday. On Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday it’s open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. The restaurant features a half-door opening onto the sidewalk for late-night counter service.

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Ryan said Off Track will soon be open seven days, and it may expand its late-night hours depending on demand.

NEW BREAKFAST AND LUNCH VENUE FOR SACO

Veteran chefs and restaurateurs are opening a breakfast and lunch spot in downtown Saco this summer.

The new venue will be called Finestkind and be located at 17 Pepperell Square, in the former home of The New Moon. The space can seat 26 customers inside, and another 12 on the porch.

“We’re trying to make a menu that’s really approachable to people, but that still has our experience behind it,” said co-owner Tom Barthelmes. “We both have a lot of experience doing fine dining, but we’re kind of at a point in our careers where we still love to cook, but we’d like to be home for dinner and have some more of that work-life balance.”

Barthelmes is kitchen manager at Central Provisions and Tipo, while his wife and co-owner Victoria is general manager and wine director at Tipo, and also wine director at Central Provisions. The couple also have extensive experience at noted New York City restaurants, including Lincoln Ristorante and Per Se. Their business partners in the Saco venture are Chris and Paige Gould, who also own Central Provisions and Tipo.

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Barthelmes said they aim to keep prices reasonable at Finestkind, with breakfast dishes ranging from $7-$14, and lunch available for under $18.

Finestkind’s Truffle Deluxe breakfast sandwich comes on a brioche bun with a jammy-yolk fried egg, crispy fried truffle cheese croquette, truffled French onion schmear and house-made bacon. (Barthelmes will also make his own sausage and smoked brisket.) Lunch dishes will include items like mac and cheese using a cheese blend designed with help from The Cheese Iron in Scarborough, a lobster roll dressed in Hollandaise sauce, a fried chicken sandwich, and salads.

Victoria Barthelmes will run the restaurant’s baking program featuring items like cookie sandwiches and crullers. Beverages will include Tandem coffee and espresso drinks from Tandem, fresh-squeezed juices, beer, wine and cocktails.

Finestkind will be open Thursday through Monday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Barthelmes hope to open sometime in July.

“It feels like the right time for us, and Saco and the neighbors have been super welcoming,” Barthelmes said. “Everyone is just reaffirming our decision to be in that space.”

Editor Peggy Grodinsky contributed to this column. 


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