Where to Eat in Portland, Maine Right Now
The gist: Spanish and French-inspired cuisine in a rustic, romantic space, cooked up by two-time James Beard Award nominee Ilma Lopez; her husband, Damian Sansonetti, who manned stoves as executive chef at Bar Boulud in NYC before the couple moved to Portland; and talented chef de cuisine, Kirby Sholl.
The food: A menu made up of snacks, small plates, and larger dishes lets you mix and match. Warm olives, patatas bravas, and paper-thin plates of nutty Iberico ham are fun to pair with cocktails like the Martini Sec (London dry gin, extra dry vermut de reus, rancio sec, orange bitters, Spanish queen olive) or a glass of vermouth. You can stay in tapas territory or move on to bright seasonal salads and dishes like fideos (Spanish vermicelli noodles), tainted with squid ink, tossed with chorizo and piquillo peppers, and dolloped with green crab aioli; or Coq au Vin, a rich chicken, red wine, and bacon lardon braise, with heirloom carrots, mushrooms, potatoes and pearl onions. Sweets like seasonal churros and crema Catalana are a must.
The cost: Tapas, small plates and salads from $6-17, larger plates run $17-28, cocktails and wine are $10-15, with bottled versions of both available to go. From the Butcher Shop, order frozen beef and bone marrow pot pie, housemade spiced nut mix, pimenton oil, local pork shoulder chops, and dry aged steaks to cook at home.
How to order: Make reservations via Chaval for heated outdoor patio and individual greenhouse dining (cozy blankets and seat cushions are provided), or order takeout on Upserve.