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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: February 9, 2015

Dining Guide: Five notable Portland newcomers

We’ve said it before and it bears repeating: The Portland restaurant scene shows no signs of slowing down, even in the “off season.” These five restaurants, all of which debuted in the last few months, are well-worth a visit

Written by: Susan Axelrod

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

Sur Lie

Sur Lie on Free Street. Press Herald file photo

Sur Lie on Free Street. Press Herald file photo

11 Free St. | 207-956-7350 | sur-lie.com | $$$
Opened in October, 2014. Sur Lie follows the small plates concept, which owner Tony Alviar describes as “sharables.” There’s plenty of sharing going on at this sophisticated, yet friendly Portland newcomer, which has been hopping since day one. The bar is more of a “scene,” while the dining room, with well-spaced tables, makes for a more traditional setting in which to enjoy chef Emil Rivera’s imaginative dishes.

Dutch’s

Dutch's on Preble Street. Press Herald file photo

Dutch’s on Preble Street. Press Herald file photo

28 Preble St. | 207-761-2900 | dutchsportland.com | $$
Opened in November, 2014. Look past the plain-Jane space to discover sensational sandwiches, baked goods and sides, prepared by big-city restaurant veterans Lucy and Ian Dutch. Fans rave about the breakfast sandwiches on buttery biscuits, The “Big D” – a local hot dog with pimento cheese and grainy mustard wrapped in a croissant and the shredded chicken sandwich on the “Dutch Crunch” roll. All breads and even the butter are made in-house. Serves for breakfast and lunch only.

Bao Bao

Bao Bao on Spring Street. Press Herald file photo

Bao Bao on Spring Street. Press Herald file photo

133 Spring St. | 207-772-8400  | No website | $$
Opened in October, 2014. The sophomore effort from 2014 Food & Wine Best New Chef Cara Stadler, Bao Bao is more casual than her celebrated Brunswick restaurant, Tao Yuan. It’s billed as a dumpling house (you can order plates of 6 dumplings steamed or fried) but the small menu also includes refreshing Asian salads and at least one soulful soup. Don’t miss the red bean paste buns offered upon request for dessert. They’re a fried twist on a steamed Asian classic, and sweet enough to satisfy even your strongest cravings. Open for lunch until late, the stylish dining room hums with a happy vibe.

Ebb & Flow

Bartender Arvid Brown chats with customers at  Ebb & Flow on Commercial Street. Press Herald file photo

Bartender Arvid Brown chats with customers at Ebb & Flow on Commercial Street. Press Herald file photo

100 Commercial St. | 207-780-0227 | ebbandflowme.com | $$$
Opened in November, 2014. Veteran chef William D’Auvray and his partner, seafood wholesaler Angelo Ciocca, have transformed a formerly confusing, revolving-door space into a warm, inviting restaurant offering one of the city’s few Mediterranean-inspired menus. Everything from breads to desserts is made in-house, with options for adventurous eaters as well as those with more pedestrian palates. Don’t miss the mezze with the hot-from-the-oven pita bread.

Tiqa

The bar at Tiqa on Commercial Street. Ted Axelrod photo

The lounge at Tiqa on Commercial Street. Ted Axelrod photo

327 Commercial St. | 207-808-8840 | tiqapm.com | $$$
Opened in January 2015. A beautiful and ambitious pan-Mediterranean restaurant the new Courtyard by Marriott on the edge of the Old Port, independently owned Tiqa boasts several contemporary and comfortable dining spaces, a large bar, and lounge. The menu features dishes inspired by a wide swath of the world – Italy, Spain, Israel, Morocco, Lebanon, to name a few, with a section devoted to kabobs (another word for which is tiqa).

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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