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Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business for 15 years before turning to journalism. By day, she is the social media editor for Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail or a Maine beer. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or saxelrod@mainetoday.com On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: July 16, 2014

Dining Guide: 5 new & noteworthy Portland-area restaurants

The restaurant boom in Maine shows no signs of abating, but to survive, you better be good. These five newcomers appear to have staying power.

Written by: Susan Axelrod

For full listings and more restaurants, see the new searchable Restaurant & Bar Guide.

The kitchen bar at Central Provisions. Photo by Ted Axelrod

The kitchen bar at Central Provisions. Photo by Ted Axelrod

Central Provisions

414 Fore St., Portland | 805-1085  | central-provisions.com | $$$
In the heart of the Old Port, Central Provisions offers a menu of international small plates for exceptionally fine dining in a casual atmosphere. Upstairs, the open kitchen allows diners to watch chef/owner Chris Gould and his top-notch team at work. Downstairs, the bar is equally as exciting, serving up specialty cocktails — including some without alcohol, a thoughtful selection of wines and mostly local beers.

The main event at Slab. Photo by John Golden

The main event at Slab. Photo by John Golden

Slab

25 Preble St., Portland | 766-4400 | slabportland.com | $$
The Slab — that pillowy Sicilian pizza once available only at Miccuci Market — is back. And it now has its own restaurant, the creation of chef Jason Loring (of Nosh Kitchen Bar) and Stephen Lanzalotta, who made the iconic pie famous in the first place. Packed from the day it opened, Slab offers huge portions of well-made dishes, including sandwiches and salads as well as the pizzas, served on wooden boards or in paper boats. The enormous outdoor patio is the place to be on a summer night.

Lolita on Munjoy Hill. Photo by Ted Axelrod

Lolita on Munjoy Hill. Photo by Ted Axelrod

Lolita

80 Congress St., Portland | 775-5652 | lolita-portland.com | $$$
A small plates-focused menu offered all day, wood-fired grill and substantial wine list are the hallmarks of this new and instantly popular Munjoy Hill restaurant from Guy and Stella Hernandez, who formerly owned Bar Lola. “Medium” and “Large” plates are also available for those looking for more of a traditional meal.

The bar at Timber. Photo by Ted Axelrod

The bar at Timber. Photo by Ted Axelrod

Timber

106 Exchange St., Portland | 805-1469 | timberportland.com | $$$$
Noah and Dan Talmatch (who also own Portland’s The North Point) are hoping for another home run with Timber, which they describe as a “classy steakhouse with a modern Maine twist.” Befitting a city steakhouse, it’s sleek and swanky, with plenty of rustic wood elements to reflect its name. Behind the restaurant, the brick patio is decked out with thatched umbrellas and strings of lights.

Waitress Cat Dussault pours a cup of coffee at Palace Diner in Biddeford. Press Herald file photo

Waitress Cat Dussault pours a cup of coffee at Palace Diner in Biddeford. Press Herald file photo

Palace Diner

18 Franklin St., Biddeford | 284-0015 | palacedinerme.com | $$$
Chefs Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell have turned Maine’s oldest dining car into a destination for the modern Blue Plate Special. They take the original homey staples, replacing the run-of-the-mill ingredients and slap-dash plating with quality ingredients — and make it taste and look beautiful. Cash only at breakfast and lunch. No reservations.

Key to prices

The approximate cost of two dinner entrees (not including appetizers, drinks, tax and gratuity).
$ – $15 and under
$$ – $16 to $25
$$$ – $26 to $45
$$$$ – $46 and up

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