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

While plenty of Maine restaurants celebrate seafood, fish and chips are oddly under-sung in the local dining scene. But the iconic dish will soon get its due as a husband-wife chef team 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, a former sous chef for Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, said he and his wife, Leeward pastry chef Kate Hamm, conceived the idea for Fish & Whistle – named for a John Prine song – last fall.

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

Eckerson said Fish & Whistle will use pollock and hake for the fish and chips, rather than the traditional cod or haddock, partly for sustainability reasons. “Cod and haddock are frankly overfished right now,” said Eckerson, who developed a strong network of area fish purveyors as the 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 that he said is texturally between heavy beer batter and airy tempura batter. “The yeast makes the batter lighter, and gives it a kind of effervescence,” he said.

For the chips, Eckerson said they will use local potatoes such as the Kennebec variety, or potatoes from Green Thumb Farms in Fryeburg. “We’ve chosen these potatoes for their flavor. They taste more like potato than standard russets.”


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

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

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

Foodies already drooling over Twelve

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

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


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

New Brunswick market

The Butchers & Bakers, a certified gluten-free bakery and nose-to-tail butcher shop, is slated to open in Brunswick’s Tontine Mall, which has been without a food purveyor since Wild Oats left in 2020.

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

The pair has hired 22 employees to round out their culinary team. The butchery staffers have expertise in curing, fermenting, drying and other meaty matters. They will work in an open-concept butcher space, selling lesser-known meat cuts, such as spoon-bone sirloin, a beef steak containing parts of the tri-tip, top sirloin and tenderloin. The butcher counter also will offer a variety of heritage breed meats from local farmers, including organ meats such as hearts and livers.

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


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

The Butchers & Bakers also will have a café selling grab-and-go soups, salads and sandwiches all made fresh and in-house.

Ninety Nine restaurants go all in on Maine spuds

Massachusetts-based restaurant chain Ninety Nine will now use Maine potatoes exclusively, 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 mixture of Maine potatoes for their mashed potato, fries and potato skins menu items.

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

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


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

Fundraiser for fire victims

Three Dollar Dewey’s in Portland will host a happy hour fundraiser Thursday from 4-7 p.m. to assist people displaced by a blaze 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 blaze displaced three area restaurant workers who escaped uninjured, though they lost all their belongings in the fire and didn’t have renter’s insurance. Another GoFundMe page related to the incident said at least 22 people were displaced by the fire.

Different breweries’ takes on the Collaboration IPA v2. Photo credit: Maine Brewers’ Guild Photo courtesy of Maine Brewers’ Guild

New beer to raise money for Maine Brewers’ Guild

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

The special suds will be sold as drafts, cans and bottles by 52 Maine breweries through March. Guild officials said its first Collaboration Beer from 2020 was sold by 44 breweries and raised $27,000 to support the Guild, a nonprofit that supports the state’s craft brewers. They expect the new beer to raise as much as $34,000.


While each brewery works from the same recipe for the project, they tend to put their unique twists on the Collaboration Beer, so brew lovers can explore flavor differences from brewery to brewery. Guild officials said that Portland’s Foundation Brewing Co., for instance, fermented its version using lager yeast. Woodland Farms Brewery in Kittery is making 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,” Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers’ Guild, said in a news release. “So many people have discovered craft beer in the past five years, and what they love about it is the way we all work together. When we all brew the same recipe, it keeps that spirit alive and supports our industry.”

Find details about participating breweries at 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 combatting food insecurity in Maine, is hosting an online supper club series that kicks off this week.

The series features themed meals and speakers on topics such as gardening, homesteading and sustainable living, according to Veggies to Table co-founder Erica Berman. The first event is set for Thursday at 6 p.m., with a meal 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 slated for March 16 and April 14. The March meal theme is food from the pantry, root cellar and freezer, and speaker Kirsten Lie-Mann of Hostile Valley Farm in Liberty will discuss homesteading in Maine and raising your own food for abundance. April speaker Irene Brady Barber of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens will talk about native garden edibles that attract pollinators, while the meal theme will be “Spring Greens and Local Whites.”

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

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