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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 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 On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Things to do This week

Posted: February 9, 2014

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

Written by: Susan Axelrod - staff writer -

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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 Friday this year, reservations are a must; some restaurants are also offering the same menus on Thursday and Saturday evenings.


Cantina el Rayo

101 York St. | 780-8466
The special six-course menu starts with oysters on the half shell and finishes with mocha tres leches or warm churros with cajeta dipping sauce. $42 per person.

Five Fifty-Five

555 Congress St. | 761-0555
Five-course menu with choices, $100 per person, served from 5 pm to closing Feb. 14. Wine pairings available for an additional cost.

Petite Jacqueline

190 State St. | 553-7044
Special dinner served from 5 pm to closing on Feb. 14 for $65 per person, with a complimentary split of Champagne.


111 Middle St.| 747-5307
Named to a short list of “Best New Romantic Restaurants in America” for 2014 by Travel & Leisure magazine, Piccolo will serve a “rustic, Italian-inspired tasting menu on Feb. 14. The menu will be multiple courses with choices and feature items such as sea urchin, local winter produce, scallop crudo, hand made pasta, and heritage pork. $65 per person with optional Italian wine pairing for $35.


88 Middle St. | 774-8538
For Feb. 14 and 15, chefs Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley have created special five-course versions of their “Foraged & Farmed,” “From the Sea” and “Forest & Field” tasting menus for $120 person. Wine pairings available for an additional $75.

The Salt Exchange

245 Commercial St. | 347-5687
Feb. 13 – Feb. 15 chef Adam White will serve a three-course special menu for $55 plus tax and gratuity. Price includes shared dessert and glass of Veuve Cliquot Champagne. On Feb. 14, there will live music from the local quartet Jazz Alchemy.


505 Fore St. | 772-8242
Chef Shannon Bard will reprise her recent “Mexico Meets Maine” dinner at the James Beard House with a special 5-course menu for Feb. 14. $60 per person; $25 additional for wine/cocktail pairings. Seatings at 6 and 8 pm


Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea

40 Bowery Beach Rd.| 799-3134
Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich’s romantic 4-course menu is $75 or $100 with wine flight. A la carte menu also available.

Southern Maine Community College’s McKernan Hospitality Center

2 Fort Rd. | 741-5543
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. 6:30 and 7:30 pm seatings available. Reservations will be taken until 2 pm Feb. 13; appetizers and main courses must be ordered at time of reservation. Call 741-5672 or email


Tao Yuan

22 Pleasant St.| 725-9002
The Feb. 14 special chef’s tasting menu will feature yuzu oysters, foie gras, chocolate – rich, luxurious ingredients made with an Asian twist. $58 per person; a la carte menu will not be available.


The Kennebunk Inn

45 Main St.| 985-3351
Academe chef/owners Shanna and Brian O’Hea offer a fixed-price, three-course menu for $45, including special “couples desserts. Serving from 5 to 9 pm on Feb. 14.

The White Barn Inn

37 Beach Ave.| 967-2321
On Feb. 14, an intimate, four-course dinner is $130 per person, not including tax and gratuity. Optional wine pairings $85.

Ocean at the Cape Arundel Inn

208 Ocean Ave.| 967-4015
Chef Pierre Gignac is serving an “Aphrodisiac Menu” with most courses priced for two, on Feb. 14 and 15. The regular winter menu is also available.


Jonathan’s Ogunquit

92 Bourne Lane
Premier seats ($55) to the “Straight Lace Valentine’s Day Dance” on Feb. 15 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.


Natalie’s at the Camden Harbour Inn

83 Bayview St. | 236-7008
Seven-course tasting menu is $97 per person, with wine pairings an additional $79.


Flanagan’s Table

688 Narragansett Trail | 232-3044
The acclaimed monthly barn dinner series features Chef Erin French of The Lost Kitchen on Feb. 14. $130 per person includes a welcome drink, wine with each course, a minimum of five courses and gratuity.

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