The Wrap: New restaurants and food stores, fundraisers, Ninety Nine reasons to love Maine spuds

Yeast-battered fish and hand-cut fries from Fish & Whistle in Biddeford. Photo credit: Andrew Dickinson

While many Maine restaurants celebrate seafood, fish and chips are oddly underrated in the local dining scene. But the iconic dish will soon get its due as a team of husband-wife chefs plan to open Fish & Whistle in Biddeford this spring.

The restaurant will be located at 299 Main St. in the space occupied by the former Yeto’s. Jason Eckerson, former sous chef at Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, said he and his wife, downwind pastry chef Kate Hamm, came up with the idea for Fish & Whistle – named after a song by John Prine – last fall.

“We thought, we like this food (fish and chips), but where is it? It felt like a niche we could fill,” Eckerson said.

Eckerson said Fish & Whistle will use pollock and hake for fish and chips, rather than traditional cod or haddock, in part for sustainability reasons. “Cod and haddock are frankly overfished right now,” said Eckerson, who has developed a strong network of fish suppliers in the region as a seafood buyer for Eventide. “And we can get bigger and better pieces of pollock and hake than cod and haddock right now for the money.”

Instead of a conventional beer batter, Eckerson will use a yeast batter, which he says falls between a heavy beer batter and an airy tempura batter. “The yeast makes the dough lighter and gives it a kind of effervescence,” he said.

For the fries, Eckerson said they would use local potatoes such as the Kennebec variety or potatoes from Green Thumb Farms in Fryeburg. “We chose these potatoes for their flavor. They taste more like potato than standard russets.

The menu will also feature fish or fried chicken sandwiches, an innovative calamari sandwich and a fried tempeh sandwich with fermented soy from Tootie’s Tempeh in Biddeford.

Hamm, founder of pop-up bakery Sweet Woodruff Provisions in Portland, will bake buns for the sandwiches using the Japanese style of milk bread. “It makes a really soft bun with good weight,” Eckerson said.

The couple aim to keep prices reasonable, again filling a niche. “It will be higher quality food than a fry, but still affordable,” Eckerson said. The fish sandwich will sell for $13, while the fish and chips are priced at $12 for a half order, $19 for a full. Soft ice cream will be among the desserts, and Hamm will also bake cakes and pies to sell by the slice.

Foodies are already drooling over Twelve

The buzz around Twelve, a restaurant set to open this summer in Portland’s historic Pattern Storehouse building at 58 Fore St., has already gone national. Last month, Vogue magazine called it one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of the year.

Twelve is billed as a seasonal American restaurant that will feature the finest Maine ingredients. But the co-owners’ impressive pedigrees, who worked and trained in legendary foodie meccas, are what fueled the hype.

Chef Colin Wyatt, formerly of Eleven Madison Park in New York, and Daniel Gorlas, formerly of Per Se, also in Manhattan, have partnered with Prentice Hospitality Group to launch Twelve. Prentice owns Evo Kitchen + Bar, Evo X and the Chebeague Island Inn. Gorlas will lead front operations, while Wyatt will partner with Matt Ginn, Prentice’s executive chef, to run the kitchen. Ginn and Wyatt worked together at Portland’s former Five Fifty-Five restaurant in 2007, when Wyatt was the head chef there.

New Brunswick market

The Butchers & Bakers, a certified gluten-free bakery and butcher, is set to open in Brunswick’s Tontine shopping center, which has been without a food supplier since Wild Oats left in 2020.

Co-owners Marissa Stahl-Hodgkins, the store’s head baker, and butcher Steven Campbell, said they plan to open March 7. The store will be open six days a week from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed on Wednesdays.

The duo has hired 22 employees to complete their culinary team. Butchery employees have expertise in salting, fermenting, curing and other meat-based matters. They will work in an open-plan butchery space, selling lesser-known cuts of meat, such as spoon sirloin, a beef steak containing parts of the tri-tip, top sirloin and tenderloin. The butcher counter will also offer a variety of heritage breed meats from local farmers, including offal such as hearts and livers.

“One of our focal points is transparency, as well as ongoing training,” Campbell said. “We’re very proud of our sausage and we want people to see how it’s made.”

Stahl-Hodgkins said the bakery side of the store is “very aware of allergens in general.” So, in addition to gluten-free artisan breads and pastries, the shop will offer items for people who can’t eat dairy, soy or nuts, for example.

The Butchers & Bakers will also have a cafe selling takeaway soups, salads and sandwiches, all fresh and homemade.

Ninety-nine restaurants go all-in in Maine

Massachusetts restaurant chain Ninety Nine will now exclusively use Maine potatoes, according to the Maine Potato Board. The chain’s 103 locations in New England and parts of New York State will use Caribou Russet potatoes for their baked potato orders, and a Maine potato mix for their entrees. mashed potatoes, fries and potato skins.

“Caribou Russet is a high demand potato variety,” Jeff Irving of Irving Farms Marketing said in a prepared statement. Irving Farms grows the Caribou Russet potatoes used in the chain. “It’s what we call the potato lover’s potato because the natural flavor is great. Sure, it tastes great with any toppings like butter, sour cream, and cheese, but it also tastes great on its own.

“We’re happy to support local, and it makes that decision even easier when local produce is some of the best,” said Charlie Noyes, president of Ninety Nine Restaurants.

A recent fire at a townhouse complex on Munjoy Hill left some 22 people homeless, including several restaurant workers. Photo by Bonnie Washuk/Editor

Fundraising for disaster victims

Three Dollar Dewey’s in Portland will host a happy hour fundraiser Thursday from 4-7 p.m. to help those displaced by a fire that destroyed a townhouse complex at 117-119 North St. in Portland last month. For every pint of Shipyard Export and American Pale Ale the pub sells at the event, they plan to donate $1 to a GoFundMe set up to help some of the fire victims.

According to the GoFundMe page, the fire displaced three area restaurant workers who escaped unharmed, although they lost all of their belongings in the fire and did not have tenant insurance. Another GoFundMe page linked to the incident said at least 22 people were displaced by the fire.

Different breweries are adopting Collaboration IPA v2. Photo credit: Maine Brewers Guild Photo courtesy of the Maine Brewers Guild

New beer to raise money for the Maine Brewers Guild

The Maine Brewers’ Guild released their second “Collaboration” beer this week, called Collaboration IPA v2.

The special foam will be sold in drafts, cans and bottles by 52 Maine breweries through March. Guild officials said its first Collaboration Beer of 2020 was sold by 44 breweries and raised $27,000 to support the Guild, a nonprofit that supports craft brewers in the state. They expect the new beer to fetch up to $34,000.

Although each brewery works from the same recipe for the project, they tend to bring their own unique twist to Collaboration Beer, so beer lovers can explore the flavor differences from brewery to brewery. Guild officials said Portland’s Foundation Brewing Co., for example, fermented its version using lager yeast. Woodland Farms Brewery in Kittery makes a non-alcoholic version, while Bateau Brewing in Gardiner fermented one batch of the Collaboration brew with a traditional IPA yeast and another with a yeast that makes a sour IPA.

“This beer is a celebration of the collaborative spirit that has kept Maine brewers strong throughout the pandemic,” Maine Brewers’ Guild executive director Sean Sullivan said in a press release. “So many people have discovered craft beer over the past five years, and what they love is how we all work together. When we all brew the same recipe, it keeps that spirit alive and sustains our industry. »

Find details of participating breweries on the Maine Brewers Guild website.

Virtual Supper Club Speaker Series

Newcastle-based Veggies to Table, a nonprofit farm that donates its organic produce to more than 30 organizations addressing food insecurity in Maine, is hosting a series of online supper clubs kicking off this week.

The series features themed meals and speakers on topics including gardening, homesteading and sustainable living, according to Veggies to Table co-founder Erica Berman. The first event is scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m., with a mealtime theme of winter comfort foods, while speaker Petra Page-Mann of Fruition Seeds in New York State will cover the topic “Growing Your Garden, Growing Yourself”.

The next events in the series are scheduled for March 16 and April 14. The theme for March Meal is Food from the Pantry, Root Cellar, and Freezer, and speaker Kirsten Lie-Mann of Hostile Valley Farm in Liberty will discuss farming in Maine and raising your own food for abundance. April’s speaker, Irene Brady Barber of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, will talk about native garden edibles that attract pollinators, while the theme for the meal will be “Spring Greens and Local Whites.”

Tickets for Zoom-based events are $35, available on the Veggies to Table website.

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