PORTLAND, ME: Set on a peninsula, it’s only natural Maine’s largest city excels at seafood. Don’t miss the lobster roll at Eventide Oyster Co. (also one of the best raw bards in town); a sweet treat at The Holy Donut, which uses unique ingredients like potatoes; or seafood and game roasted over hardwood at Fore Street.
Oysters—and bubbly—for everyone! Chefs Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley of Eventide Oyster Co. won this year’s James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northeast at the foundation’s awards gala in Chicago last night.
There were semifinalists, then finalists, and finally winners: Tonight during a ceremony in Chicago, the James Beard Foundation announced and feted the 2017 awards recipients in the chef and restaurant categories. James Beard Foundation Awards are one of the highest honors in the American hospitality industry.
From Connecticut’s soft sandy beaches to Maine’s rugged granite shores, our Atlantic coastline is a place of beauty and wonder, lapping along five of the six New England states and drawing visitors from around the world. This week, we start in Ogunquit, Maine, named by Yankee magazine as the best beach town in New England. Next, we travel north to a rocky cove near Acadia National Park, where we create an authentic Maine clambake (right down to the Red Snapper hot dogs). And then it’s back to New England basics with a lesson in traditional boatbuilding in Newport, Rhode Island.
It's likely you'll have to wait for a table—or, even better, a seat at the concrete oyster bar—at Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley's hugely popular seafood spot. No worries, though: just use the down time to slurp back a couple of oyster shooters, dig into the nicely curated list of local and international beers, and mull over your order.
Portland consistently nabs national notice for its food scene, which is fueled by a strong farm-to-table ethos. Book early to score a seat at Central Provisions, a savvy New American eatery recently nominated for the country’s best new restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, the Oscars of food. Eventide Oyster Co., especially its brown butter lobster roll, is another favorite among in-the-know foodies. The fin fare-focused joint is opening a Boston location near Fenway this year, so it’s worth sailing by the original to see what all the fuss is about.
Eventide Oyster Co.'s Brown Butter Lobster Roll comes nestled in a steamed bun.
Take the ferry to Peaks Island. Eat your weight in lobster rolls at Portland Lobster Company, and be sure to also hit Central Provisions, The Honey Paw, and Eventide Oyster Co., the "oyster bar of your dreams."
After scoring national kudos and two shared James Beard nominations for chefs Michael Wiley and Andrew Taylor, Portland, Maine-based Eventide Oyster Co. is coming to Boston. So far there's little info available on how this Hub location, dubbed Eventide Fenway, will differentiate itself — but frankly, we're perfectly fine with simply replicating all the seafood-serving, oyster-slurping success of the original.
Big Tree Hospitality — the group behind Eventide Oyster Co., one of the most beloved restaurants in Portland, Maine — has confirmed it will indeed open a location in Boston (1321 Boylston St. at Yawkey Way) sometime in 2017, says a restaurant rep. Eventide Fenway will offer a “concise and creative seafood menu in a casual counter-service setting,” according to a release. Big Tree also runs the ever-crowded Hugo’s (New American) and The Honey Paw (funky noodles) in Portland.
“I’ve only been to a handful of real clambakes in my life,” said Mike Wiley, co-chef and co-owner of three restaurants in Portland, Maine. “I mean the kind by the ocean, cooked with fresh seaweed and seawater. But I’ve tested countless clambake recipes at our restaurants.”
When I visited Portland, ME for the first time this March, I was instantly charmed by the way the city seemed the perfect marriage of old school and new. On one hand, it was quintessentially New England with its stunning seascapes, cobblestone streets and everyone-knows-everyone warmth. On the other hand, the city’s rich cultural offerings, eco-friendliness and diverse community lent Portland a distinctly modern feel.
And the food.
Cod has a mild, firm flesh that lends itself to a wide range of preparations. But Maine chef Mike Wiley is especially partial to poaching the fillets in olive oil. “The green, grassy oil perfumes the fish,” he said, “and the texture this technique achieves is remarkably luscious and light.”
As the days grow colder, scallops are the silver lining: The lower the water temperature, the plumper and sweeter they get. Mike Wiley, co-chef and co-owner of Eventide Oyster Co., Hugo’s and the Honey Paw in Portland, Maine, will be serving them liberally from here on in.
Fore Street and The Honey Paw, both in Portland, are among the restaurants named, and five chefs from four restaurants are in the running for Best Chef: Northeast.
Nine Maine restaurants, chefs and brewmasters are among this year’s semifinalists for James Beard Awards, considered the most prestigious in the American food world.
Maine’s 2016 semifinalists cover seven categories – there are 21 restaurant and chef categories in all – including Best New Restaurant and Outstanding Restaurant. The group was selected from more than 20,000 online entries.
The Honey Paw in Portland is a semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant category, which is given to a restaurant opened in 2015 that “already displays excellence … and is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.”
This is an amazing raw bar that serves a couple dozen varieties of fresh oysters and shellfish with innovative accoutrements like pickled ginger or kimchi ice. Dishes like the house-cured herring with beet ice amiably remind you that the kitchen is jamming on all cylinders and knows what it’s doing. The Eventide menu has Asian and Mediterranean flavors stamped all over it and, charmingly, it all works. Take their lobster rolls served in Chinese-style steamed buns with brown butter vinaigrette.....
The 2015 James Beard Awards, hosted by Alton Brown, will be held at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 4. Carla Hall will host our Book, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards Dinner, taking place at New York City's Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers on Friday, April 24. Tickets to the main gala go on sale April 1, while BBJ ceremony tickets are now available online.
Announcing the Nominees for the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards, Presented by Lexus
Best Chef: Northeast
Karen Akunowicz, Myers + Chang, Boston
Barry Maiden, Hungry Mother, Cambridge, MA
Masa Miyake, Miyake, Portland, ME
Cassie Piuma, Sarma, Somerville, MA
Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, Eventide Oyster Co., Portland, ME
By Peggy Grodinsky, Food Editor
Law and academia lost out to oysters and fine dining for the two chefs and part-owners of Hugo's, Eventide and soon, Honey Paw.
Savvy restaurant-going Mainers could not have been surprised that Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor were nominated for a James Beard award as Best Chefs: Northeast this year. If anything, we wondered what took the Beard Foundation so long. In partnership with general manager Arlin Smith, the pair owns Portland’s beloved Eventide Oyster Company and the adjacent Hugo’s restaurant on Middle Street. As locals who have waited for a coveted seat know all too well, even in the dead of winter, even on a Sunday night, even at an odd, sleepy hour of the afternoon, Eventide will be jumping. Then there’s Hugo’s (previously owned by Rob Evans), where the space and service are simultaneously posh and relaxed, the cooking intricate, elegant and assured. Hugo’s, an admiring chef friend of mine said after a recent meal, “is the real deal.” Both restaurants regularly make national and regional Best of and Where to Eat lists. And within the next few weeks, Wiley, Taylor and Smith plan to open the noodle-focused Honey Paw in a contiguous space.
Lobster will always be Maine's king crustacean, but this nonstop-crowded bar in Portland specializes in the state's other seafood star. The menu divides the oysters, displayed over ice on a counter cut from rugged granite, into categories using local parlance: "From Maine" and "From Away." Start by slurping local gems like citrusy Pemaquids from the Damariscotta River. Accoutrements go traditional (cocktail sauce, mignonette) and inventive (ices flavored with blasts of cucumber and ginger or kimchi).
In Maine, cold is good for a lot of things: wood stoves, snow, lobster, and, as it turns out, oysters all year long. As traditional growing areas to the South peter out, this clean, remote corner of the country is generating a plethora of delicious options for oyster lovers, from big, creamy, coppery Belons (a European transplant that took) to a buttery Maine original from Tauntin Bay north of Acadia National Park...