Maine Restaurant Week March 1-10, 2012 The fourth annual statewide Maine Restaurant Week is March 1-10, 2012. A list of participating restaurants is available at www.mainerestaurantweek.com. The list will continue to expand through March 1, 2012. Restaurants interested in participating in Maine Restaurant Week can signup online at www.mainerestaurantweek.com or by calling (207) 775-2126.
Nearly 50 restaurants throughout the state are already confirmed for this year with restaurants in towns from Lewiston, Auburn, Kennebunk, Portland, Camden, Brunswick, Bangor and more. As in years past, the three-course dinners range in price from $20-$40 per person and some restaurants will be offering three-course lunches for $15. Restaurants also have the ability to identify vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options on their menus.
In addition to the ten days of dining, The Signature Event will launch Maine Restaurant Week on Wednesday evening, February 29 from 5:30-8:30 pm at the Portland Harbor Hotel, 468 Fore St., in Portland. This event will once again feature a People’s Choice competition for best cocktail and a People’s Choice competition for best dessert. New this year is the introduction of a professionally judged cocktail and a People’s Choice award for best table display. Tickets to The Signature Event start at $35.
The Incredible Breakfast Cook-off will take place Friday morning, March 9 at the Seadog Brewing Company, 125 Western Ave in South Portland, 7 am – 9 am. The Good Table, Cape Elizabeth, will return for the third year to defend its two-year title of People’s Choice winner with its Crème Brulee French Toast.
For more information go to www.mainerestaurantweek.com. Event tickets are available through www.mainerestaurantweek.com/events or www.brownpapertickets.com. Customers can stay informed through www.facebook.com/mainerestaurantweek and www.twitter.com/dineme.Maine Restaurant Week is sponsored by the Swan Agency-Sotheby’s International, US Cellular, L.L. Bean, Down East Magazine, Shipyard Brewing Company, Native Maine Produce, Maine Today Media and Cumulus Radio.
Hundreds Crown Supreme Dessert-Maker and Bartender at Maine Restaurant Week Kickoff, The Signature Event Academe Brasserie, The Salt Exchange, and Walter’s Win Prizes
PORTLAND, Maine – It was an evening of decadent desserts, drinks, and décor during The Signature Event, the kick-off to Maine Restaurant Week. The area’s finest bartenders, dessert chefs, and bakers provided samples of their best work to over four hundred guests in the majestic Masonic Temple in Portland last night. Academe, The Salt Exchange, and Walter’s came out winners in the Signature Cocktail, the juried “Art of Dessert,” and the People’s Choice “How Sweet It Is” categories, respectively. “The Signature Event was a great kick off Maine Restaurant Week,” notes Jim Britt of gBritt PR, organizer of Maine Restaurant Week. “Maine is filled with such extraordinary culinary talent. Hopefully people are hungry for more so they’ll go check out some of the many wonderful and wide-ranging restaurants participating in Maine Restaurant Week now through March 12.” Adrian Trudeau, bartender at Academe Brasserie at the Kennebunk Inn won the Signature Cocktail competition with his drink “Sage Against the Machine.” The cocktail featured Absolut Raspberry Vodka, Triple Sec, St. Germain, sour mix, muddled sage and lime. Jay Towle of Brian Boru was the runner-up for the night with his drink “Hot Ginger and Lemon Whiskey Tea” and Tom Laslavic, Natlalie’s, Camden Harbour Inn was the second runner up with a three course cocktail, “Natalie’s House Soda.” Five finalists competed in the juried “Art of Dessert” competition. Patrick Tubbs, pastry chef at The Salt Exchange won the grand prize with his cream stout gingerbread with smoked sea salt and bourbon caramel, black pepper and vanilla ice cream, candied bacon, and cinnamon tulle. The judges’ table was comprised of an elite cast of tasting professionals: Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram food writer Meredith Goad; cookbook author and Maine hospitality specialist Dana Moos; cookbook author Kathy Gunst; and former “Top Chef: Just Desserts” competitor and Maine native Zac Young. The People’s Choice “How Sweet It Is” competition featured desserts and treats ranging from chocolates and cupcakes to reverse root beer floats. Pastry chef Anthony Scherrer of Walter’s received the most votes for his dessert, “Kitt Katt Bar with Sea Salted Caramel.” The Salt Exchange’s Tubbs was the runner up (by just one vote) for his Creme Stout Gingerbread dessert that won the “Art of Dessert” competition. The Signature Event was catered by Natalie’s of the Camden Harbour Inn, which was also a sponsor. Maine Beverage Company and Double Cross Vodka were also sponsors of the event. Part of the proceeds of the event were donated to Maine Harvest Lunch. About Maine Restaurant Week: Founded in 2009, this is the third year for this statewide event. Participating restaurants offer specially priced menus from March 1-12. For restaurant names, menus and special event information, visit www.mainerestaurantweek.com. Sponsors of Maine Restaurant Week include: Down East Magazine, The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, Constellation Wines US, American Express, Maine Office of Tourism, MPBN, Shipyard Brewing Company, Citadel Broadcasting, Oakhurst Dairy, WCSH 6, and Native Maine Produce.
As someone who’s lived and worked in Portland since the 80s recession, I’ve walked past the entrance to 415 Congress Street countless times, and have never once wondered what was inside. So, heading to the 2011 Signature Event to kick-off Maine Restaurant Week, I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going. Somewhere near City Hall? Turns out that inside 415 Congress is a Masonic Temple, built in the early 1900s, with marble arches, ornate woodwork and painted ceilings – all very cool – and apparently just the right setting for indulging in dessert and cocktails.Several inches of slush and questionable sidewalks didn’t seem to deter anyone from attending. It was packed (in a fun, festive way not the frustrating, can’t move way)! We’re Mainers; it’s winter, and, well…did I say dessert and cocktails? Thirteen bartenders offered up signature cocktails, from Adrian Trudeau’s (Academe) “Sage Against the Machine” made with Absolut Raspberry Vodka, triple sec, St. Germain, sour mix, muddled sage and lime to Tatum Thistle’s (The Salt Exchange) “Double Pear Martini”, which combines Double Cross vodka, pear puree, pear juice, spiced Irish tea. My friends and I had difficult decisions to make when it came to casting our votes – much discussion and, of course, a second round of the favorites, just to make sure. A few standouts: Patrick Morange’s (David’s) “Agua De Seville” -- Bulleit bourbon, Cointreau, Aria PinkCava, pineapple juice, Smiling Hill Farms vanilla milk; Paul Russell’s (Blue Sky) “The Down East Breeze” -- Back River cranberry gin, Aperol liqueur, lime juice, grapefruit zest syrup, muddled fresh rosemary, cranberry aromatic bitters and Erin Davis’ (Azure Café) “Zeuss Pomegranate Martini” -- Absolut Ruby Red vodka, PAMA pomegranate liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup. Might be worth getting the complete list, and then enjoying each signature cocktail on the bartender’s home turf.My two sugar-fueled companions and I parted ways on desserts. Kristen Fuhrmann Simmons’ (Kristen F. Simmons) Lemon Meringue Cake or Anthony R. Scherrer’s (Walter’s) Kit Katt Bar with sea-salted caramel? Couldn’t go wrong with Tulip Cupcakery’s “Cupcake Seasons of Maine” sampling – especially the pumpkin maple cupcake made with locally grown organic pumpkins and Maine maple syrup. Shanna Horner O’Hea (Academe Brasserie at the Kennebunk Inn) offered a Reverse Root Beer Float with Black & White Macaroon. The float was presented in an ice cream cone-shaped container with a straw. It was fun and delicious! Surprisingly. with so many amazing creations to choose from, we did manage to agree on one – Patrick Tubbs’ (The Salt Exchange) Cream Stout Gingerbread with smoked sea salt and bourbon-caramel, black pepper and vanilla ice cream, cinnamon tulle and…wait for it…candied bacon. It won with the judges, and came in second place for the “People’s Choice” award (behind Walter’s Kitt Kat bar). In looking at the list of components in this dessert, you may think, there’s a lot going on there. Well, all I can say is, it worked beautifully, in a fabulous smoky, spicy, sweet way. Sign me up for next year’s event!
Signature Cocktail Competitors:
Academe, Kennebunk Inn - Adrian Trudeau The Armory - David Boger Azure Café - Erin Davis Blue Sky, York - Paul Russell Brian Boru - Jay Towl David's - Patrick Morang DiMillo's - Chelsea DiMillo Great Lost Bear - Michael Dickson Grill Room - John Myers, last year's runner up Local 188/Sonny's - Dave Thompson Natalie's - Tom Laslavic, last year's winner The Salt Exchange - Tatum Thistle Sea Glass, Inn by the Sea - Mike Worley
People's Choice "How Sweet It Is" Competitors:
Academe, Kennebunk Inn - Shanna Horner O'HeaBam Bam Bakery - Bevin McNultyDean's Sweets - Dean BinghamGritty McDuff's - Dave FrenchHavana South - Mercedes Foster-DoughertyKatie Made - Katie CapronKristin F. Simmons Kristin SimmonsMaple's Organics - Kristie GreenThe Salt Exchange - Patrick TubbsSea Glass, Inn by the Sea - Karen TurnerSonny's - Gabrielle GirardTulips Cupcakery - Stephanie O'NeilWalters - Tony ScherrerWhole Foods Market Tiffany White
I put together an unofficial map of restaurants participating in Maine Resturant Week March 1-12, 2011. If you know of any I missed please email me.