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John Golden

John Golden writes about food and has a highly opinionated blog, The Golden Dish.

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Posted: September 29, 2014

New Portland restaurants: C’mon, open already!

In the kaleidoscope of new restaurant openings, the pace has been slow but the line-up is very promising as they trickle in and open their doors.

Written by: John Golden

For weeks our local social-media food sites have breathlessly hawked the progress of new restaurants that will—one of these days—finally open. But will they be Johnny-come-latelies or newcomers worth noting?  Time will tell.

So far, some of these projects haven’t moved any quicker than they can since typical city zoning issues and other delays (like renovation costs) prevail.

Finally, however, the Golden Lotus—a quietly awaited arrival–opened, which at this writing I’ve visited twice and will post my review this coming Friday.

The Golden Lotus entrance off the plaza at 511 Congress St.

The Golden Lotus entrance off the plaza at 511 Congress St.

The Jewel Box, aka the Bearded Lady, flung its doors open last week. Though I have little to say about it because of this: When I walked in one evening, there was a young woman greeter, wearing a large hat, stationed at the door.  She proceeded to instruct me on the bar’s protocol, saying, “What we do here is either go to the bar or to a table.”

Huh? What else was I going to do? Recite haiku?  I walked out.

Beyond that my Rolodex (ha, ha, only kidding) of restaurants via my smart phone contacts list has not grown much.

We all await Bao Bao (133 Spring St.) to take the brown paper off the windows and turn on the lights.  That and a master plan on where to park in that congested neighborhood might make a visit there more graceful.

Still papered and shutteredat Bao Bao

Still papered and shutteredat Bao Bao

Then there’s Bramhall (769 Congress St.), the pub.  The plywood is still over the door that leads to this basement food and drink boite.  Their doors should open soon.  When I was there a couple of weeks ago, the finishing touches were, well, being finished.  A menu is posted below.

Part of the Bramhall menu

Part of the Bramhall menu

One day soon, a door will appear at the Bramhall

One day soon, a door will appear at the Bramhall

Sur-Lie (11-13 Free St.) was supposed to have a friends and family night last Friday but unfortunately not one for the extended family other than the usual serial diners who thrump to restaurant openings around our fair city.  Still we wait with baited breath for that portal to open to the hoi polloi.

Very soon--this week

Very soon–this week

The former, short-lived Thai 9 space that will be Shangri-La at 90 Exchange is still untouched.   The menu is supposed to be Sichuan.  But will it be, alas, mediocre Sichuan?

Ebb and Flow to be housed at the perpetually doomed restaurant space at 100 Commercial St. is still in the throes of renovation. But the kind words in all the pre-opening press are boding well.  The size of the dining room has been cited as one of the malefactors of its past demises.  But perhaps the curse has lifted. Let’s hope so.

Speaking of large spaces, Tiqa (321 Commercial St.), in the new Marriot Courtyard Hotel on Commercial Street (for such a small city we have so many Marriotts!) will fill a 7,000 square foot space with a target date of anytime in 2015. Perhaps they’ll need all that space since the planned menu is a pan-Mediterranean one, which will cover most of Europe, the Greek isles, North Africa and the Near East.  What, no Outer Mongolian noodles or Tbilisi hand pies?

Tiqa's swathe on the avenue will be the longest in the city

Tiqa’s swathe on the avenue will be the longest in the city

Last call.  In a touching tribute, TV food star Andrew Zimmern threw a cocktail party for his father’s late partner of 46 years, New York illustrator and amiable raconteur, Andre LaPorte, who I’ve known for many years.  It was held at Hugo’s on Saturday afternoon where we all enjoyed superb food including Hugo’s famed lobster rolls and salmon tartare. In Zimmern’s final words he presented a giant dish of mashed potatoes, prepared by Hugo’s kitchen, since this was LaPorte’s favorite food.  And wouldn’t you know, these were knock-out potatoes: perfectly pureed with just the right amount of honest potato lumps and seasoned beautifully with salt and pepper and finished off with cream and butter.  Whattawaytogo!

TV cooking star Andrew Zimmern gives a touching tribute as a large bowl of mashed potatoes is presented

TV cooking star Andrew Zimmern gives a touching tribute as a large bowl of mashed potatoes is presented in LaPorte’s honor

 

 

 

 

 

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