We haven’t heard anything about the Old Port Lobster Shack since last spring, but now the proprietor has (finally) applied for a liquor license, and he’s changed the name of the restaurant to Maine Lobster Shack. Michael Michalski of Yarmouth and Portola Valley, Calif., plans to serve Maine seafood – including chowder, lobster rolls, oysters, mussels and a variety of fried seafood – at 425 Fore St., next door to Gelato Fiasco. This restaurant has been in the works since 2015, so maybe the third year will be the charm.


When a restaurateur says a new place will open in, say, September, that usually means May of the next year. Jonny St. Laurent tells me that he is now shooting for an April opening date for the new incarnation of Uncle Billy’s Bar-B-Que on Portland’s East End. The restaurant, located at 166 Cumberland Ave., had been scheduled to open in early winter, but renovations have pushed the date into spring.


A hopeful sign that spring is on its way: Lots of restaurants are re-opening this month after a short winter break for renovations or rejuvenation. Hugo’s, at 88 Middle St., in Portland, has re-opened, as has Benkay Japanese Restaurant, which moved from its India Street location to 16 Middle St. Drifters Wife and Maine & Loire will re-open Friday after undergoing an expansion from 28 seats in their current location to 44 seats and a 10-seat bar at an adjacent space, 59 Washington Ave. Nina June in Rockport re-opened Tuesday, and on Thursday will bring back its Thursday focus on Middle Eastern food with “One Night in Tehran.” Call 236-8880 or go to ninajunerestaurant.com for reservations.



We thought food truck food was supposed to be simple. Enter the Truffle Truck, a high-end Italian food truck that will hit Portland’s streets in May. It’s more than just a walk-up truck, according to its owners; it will offer take-out (isn’t food truck food take-out by nature?), delivery and catering. The Truffle Truck’s chef, who is training now in Italy, is planning items ranging from Sunny Side Eggs, Truffle Butter and Fried Polenta ($10) to Homemade Green Lasagne with Porcini Mushrooms and Truffle ($16). The most decadent-sounding dish? Carbonara Pasta with Maine Lobster and Truffle. Customers can also get fresh truffles shaved onto any dish for an extra fee.


Does Portland really need another restaurant? Tyler Vorce thinks so. Vorce, a native of Kennebunk who most recently worked as a sous chef at The French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s restaurant in Yountville, Calif., is holding a series of pop-up dinners at the Fork Food Lab in February to introduce himself to the community. The goal? Open his own restaurant in Portland. The next five-course dinner is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. and costs $65. Fork Food Lab is located at 72 Parris St. For more information, go to oakleaf.me


Jennifer and Brian Brenerman, the owners of Shay’s Pub in Monument Square, plan to open a new place in Scarborough called Dunstan Tap and Table. The 100-seat restaurant in the Dunstan Crossing development is expected to open in May. The menu is under development, but the Brenermans say it will likely be upscale, pub-style food.



The Goldenrod in York Beach, in business for 122 years, is Maine’s oldest, continually operating restaurant, according to the Maine Restaurant Association. The MRA recently bestowed its Lifetime Achievement Award on the restaurant and its owners. The restaurant, which has a soda fountain and saltwater candy maker, employs 160 people each summer. David Peck, who co-owns the restaurant with his brother Charles, attributes the business’ longevity to “consistency and cleanliness.”


Could a celebration be any more in-your-face than “Fat Tuesday?” Abilene, Po Boys & Pickles, Lenny’s of Westbrook and the Bayside American Cafe are just a few of the local restaurants participating in the 23rd Annual WMPG Cajun Cooking Challenge, a Fat Tuesday party that will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 13 at the Woodbury Campus Center on the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus.

Local restaurants serve up some of their favorite Cajun-inspired dishes, and the public votes on its favorites. Winning restaurants get a trophy to display in their businesses.

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