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Susan Axelrod

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

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Posted: February 4, 2015

Valentine’s Day Dining: Love on the menu at these Maine restaurants

Written by: Susan Axelrod - staff writer - saxelrod@mainetoday.com

Shutterstock photo

Valentine’s Day, celebrated by couples at all stages of romance, is a prime night for dining out. Even the best home cooks may surrender the job to the pros when it comes to shucking oysters, searing foie gras, or creating elaborate chocolate desserts. And who wants to ruin the postprandial warm and happy mood by filling Tupperware with leftovers and loading the dishwasher? How much nicer to hold hands across a restaurant table and say to the waiter, “Why yes, I will have another glass of wine.”

These Maine restaurants will take good care of you and your special someone on Valentine’s Day. Since it falls on a Saturday this year, reservations are a must; some restaurants are also offering the same menus on Friday evening.


Looking for other things to do Valentine’s weekend? Done:
Guide to love: A dozen or so things to do on Valentine’s Day Weekend 2015


PORTLAND

Five Fifty-Five

555 Congress St. | 207-761-0555 | fivefifty-five.com
Celebrate your love in one of Portland’s top dining rooms, decorated in a classic, contemporary style. The 4-course menu offers choices in each course — main courses include truffled lobster mac ‘n cheese, sturgeon with artichokes, Pineland Farm striploin and venison with dried fruit mole — $75 per person, with wine pairings available for an additional cost. Also offered on Friday and Sunday.
// MENU

Petite Jacqueline

190 State St. | 207-553-7044 | bistropj.com
What could be more romantic than a French bistro where the servers sport jaunty striped shirts and the front window looks out over snowy Longfellow Square. Chef Frederic Eliot’s 3-course Valentine’s Day menu includes French classics such as escargot, lamb tenderloin with sauce forestiere and chocolate terrine with pistachios and creme anglaise, as well as the option of a 32-ounce cote de boeuf for two. $65 per person with Champagne and wine pairings available. Reservations being taken for 3 seatings.
//MENU

Piccolo

111 Middle St.| 207-747-5307 | piccolomaine.com
Named to a short list of “Best New Romantic Restaurants in America” by Travel & Leisure magazine in 2014, Piccolo is a 20-seat, rustic Italian gem owned by husband and wife chefs Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez. On Valentine’s Day, they will serve a 5-course tasting menu, welcoming guests with a glass of rose prosecco. The menu will feature Wagyu beef, Basket Island Oysters, caviar, New England seafood, local Stonecipher farms vegetables and pastry chef Lopez’ decadent desserts. $75 per person. Two seatings: 5:30-6:15 p.m. and 7:30 – 8:15 p.m.

Vinland

593 Congress St. | 207-653-8617 | vinland.me
Maine’s only all-local restaurant will offer a 10-item special tasting menu, $180 for two. Wine pairings are available: $50 per person for 5 non-sparkling wines or $65 for 4 non-sparkling wines and 1 champagne. Chef/owner David Levi also offers a “double date discount” – $300 for the tasting menu for four. Prices do not include gratuity. Two seatings: 6 and 9 p.m. Tickets purchased via brownpapertickets.com include a small processing fee. Tickets may also be purchased by calling the restaurant.

Congress Squared

157 High St. (at the Westin Harborview Hotel) | 207-517-8831 | congresssquared.com
Chef Tim LaBonte’s menu is priced a la carte, but includes cheese fondue for two as a starter for $19, and a chilled seafood platter for $65. Among the entree choices are seared sea scallops with beet polenta, cream of kale and trout roe oil, pork shank osso buco and grilled filet of beef.
// MENU

Sur Lie

11 Free St. | 207-956-7350 | sur-lie.com
For its first Valentine’s Day, Sur Lie will offer a prix-fixe menu of 8 small plates; highlights include foie gras torchon, Spanish octopus, beef short ribs and Catbird Creamery balsamic strawberry ice cream. $65 per person. The regular menu is also available.

Boone’s Fish House & Oyster Room

86 Commercial St. (Custom House Wharf) | 207-774-5725 | boonesfishhouse.com
Chef Harding Lee Smith is offering a 4-course All-Lobster menu for $115 per couple, which includes a bottle of rose cava. A second option is a 4-course prix-fixe menu with two choices in each of three courses for $55 per person, including a glass of prosecco. Most menu items are also available a la carte.
//MENU

Zapoteca

505 Fore St. | 207-772-8242 | zapotecarestaurant.com
Avocado ravioli with spiced shrimp, rib eye steak with mole negro, and ancho chocolate cake are just a few of the dishes on chef Shannon Bard’s special menu, offered both Friday and Saturday for $60 per person. Wine/tequila/cocktail pairings are $25 additional.
//MENU

SOUTH PORTLAND/CAPE ELIZABETH

The Good Table

527 Ocean House Rd.| 207-799-3134 | thegoodtablerestaurant.net
The Kostopoulos family will transform their homey restaurant with white linens and candles; a romantic setting in which to enjoy sparkling cocktails, chef Ryan Weeks’ menu favorites plus specials, and “desserts that would make cupid blush.”

Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea

40 Bowery Beach Rd.| 207-799-3134 | innbythesea.com/dining
Start your evening with a drink in the cozy bar before taking a seat in the inn’s ocean-view dining room. Four-course prix-fixe menu is $80 per person or $110 per person with wine pairings. Offered both Friday and Saturday.
// MENU

Southern Maine Community College’s McKernan Hospitality Center

2 Fort Rd. | 207-741-5543 | smcc.edu
The culinary students of SMCC, under the direction of the executive chef, will prepare a four-course dinner for parties of two served by student staff in the school’s oceanside dining room. $75 per couple plus tax and gratuity. Cash bar. Reservations  begin at 6 p.m. For reservations, call 207-741-5672 or email events@smccME.edu.
//MENU

BRUNSWICK

The Brunswick Hotel & Tavern

4 Noble St.| 207-837-6565 | thebrunswickhotelandtavern.com
Chef David Pendexter’s 3-course, prix-fixe dinner includes choices in each course and a glass of Champagne or prosecco for $46 per person. The regular Tavern menu will also be available. Reservations are being taken for between 5 and 10 p.m.
// MENU

Tao Yuan

4 Noble St.| 207-725-9002 | tao-yuan.me
Chef Cara Stadler will serve a 7-course tasting menu featuring “luxurious and decadent ingredients such as oysters, Maine crab dumplings, and braised oxtail” for $58 per person, with wine pairings an additional $38. The tentative menu will be posted on the restaurant’s website by the end of the week.
// MENU

KENNEBUNK/KENNEBUNKPORT

The Kennebunk Inn

45 Main St.| 207-985-3351 | thekennebunkinn.com
At their convivial restaurant, chefs Shanna and Brian O’Hea offer a fixed-price, three-course menu with choices in each course for $49.95 per person. The sweet finish is a special “couples desserts,” such as coeur a la creme with strawberries or “icebox frozen milkshake.” Serving from 5 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 14.
// MENU

The White Barn Inn

37 Beach Ave.| 207-967-2321 | whitebarninn.com
Long considered one of Maine’s most romantic restaurants, the dining room at The White Barn Inn has been welcoming happy couples on Valentine’s Day for 40 years. On Feb. 13 and 14, an intimate, four-course dinner is $130 per person, not including tax and gratuity. Optional wine pairings $85. The “Cupid’s Menu Gourmand,” offered for the same price, includes smoked salmon tartare, Wagyu beef loin, foie gras-braised short ribs and chocolate strawberry crepe souffle.
// MENU

Ocean at the Cape Arundel Inn

208 Ocean Ave.| 207-967-4015 | capearundelinn.com/dining
The aptly named Ocean is sophisticated and serene, with a sweeping view of the open Atlantic — beautiful even in winter. On Feb. 13 and 14, Pierre Gignac is serving a 3-course “Aphrodisiac Menu” with all courses priced for two, including lobster and chanterelle risotto ($36), chateaubriand with bernaise sauce ($72) and “chocolate delice ($26).” The regular winter menu is also available.As one of the Kennebunk/Kennebunkport restaurants participating in the “Paint the Town Red” promotion, Ocean is offering 1/2-dozen oysters with blood orange Cosmopolitans for two for $20, beginning on Feb. 13.
// MENU

OGUNQUIT

Jonathan’s Ogunquit

92 Bourne Lane | 207-646-4777 | jonathansogunquit.com
Premier seats ($55) to the “Straight Lace Valentine’s Day Dance” on Feb. 14 include a $25 dinner credit to be used in the dining room before the show, dessert or beverages, tax and shuttle/valet service. Show Plus tickets ($30) include dessert and coffee or 1 beverage, gratuity, tax and shuttle valet service. Show only tickets are $16. A la carte dinner menu includes caramelized salmon, Maine seafood pasta, steak and lobster.
//SHOW INFO + TICKETS
//MENU

CAMDEN

Natalie’s at the Camden Harbour Inn

83 Bayview St. | 207-236-7008 | nataliesrestaurant.com
With its bright red upholstered chairs and lampshades, set off by sparkling white tablecloths, swanky Natalie’s is an especially appropriate setting for romance. Chefs Shelby Stevens and Chris Long’s luxurious 6-course tasting menu begins with oysters and caviar and finishes with a macaroon tasting. $102 per person with wine pairings an additional $82 per person. The chefs’ lobster tasting menu will also be available for $109 per person; wine pairings $76
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The Hartstone Inn

41 Elm St., Camden | 207-236-4259 | hartstoneinn.com
If old-fashioned romance is your cup of tea, spend Valentine’s Day surrounded by Victorian charm in the chintz and lace-trimmed dining room at this cozy, food-centric B&B. Chef/owner Michael Salmon’s five-course prix-fixe  menu starts with an amuse-bouche of oysters Rockefeller and ends with a selection of treats to take home – or back to your room. $65 per person.
//MENU

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