Nibble and sip your way through Maine Restaurant Week – Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel

Restaurant News

Can’t get enough of Maine Restaurant Week? Well, there’s now an app to help you out.

An app paired with a cocktail, to be exact.

This year, more than a dozen of the venues participating in Maine Restaurant Week are offering cocktail and appetizer pairings for $17. So if people want to sample a restaurant’s offerings by just trying a bite and a drink, they can. If you want to try two or three places in one night, or during the week, the appetizer and cocktail pairings make that pretty easy to do. Maine Restaurant Week is Sunday through March 12.

“I think it’s a great idea to do an appetizer and cocktail pairing because it doesn’t pigeon hole you to one restaurant,” said Chelsea DiMillo, beverage director and bar manager at DiMillos On the Water in Portland. “This gives you the opportunity to experience (more restaurants) instead of having to choose just one or two.”

The cocktail and appetizer pairing at Liquid Riot in Portland.  Photo by Malcolm Watts

Maine Restaurant Week began in 2009, as a way to drum up dining business during the slow winter season. Participating restaurants offer special dinners at special prices, ranging from $25 to $55, as well as prix fixe lunches starting at $15. More than 58 restaurants will participate this year. There are also Maine Restaurant Week events that involve more than one restaurant, including the Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off, happening Friday, and The Crave Tasting & Competition on Sunday.

Some of the restaurants offering the pairings have special dinner menus as well, while others are just offering the pairings. The pairings also let restaurants highlight their cocktail offerings, something maybe people don’t think about as much during an event called Restaurant Week. So it may stir up business for the restaurant’s bar as well.

“So much of Restaurant Week focuses on the food, so I love the idea of highlighting the craft of good drink-making as well,” said Krista Cole, owner of Sur Lie, a tapas-style restaurant on Free Street in Portland.


Sur Lie’s pairing starts with a dish that features a slow-cooked pork shoulder steak with white bean ragout, crushed olives and chimichurri. It’s paired with a cocktail the restaurant calls All Things Have Changed, which features rum, allspice, pineapple syrup, house bitters, nutmeg and a red wine float.

DiMillos’ pairing starts with mussels sauteed in white wine, garlic and Maine-made Raye’s Sweet & Spicy Mustard. It’s served with a Lilly Martini, which combines Hendrick’s gin and Lillet, a wine-based aperitif. The “brightness” in the cocktail cuts through the savory sauce of the mussels, DiMillo said.

Arancini and martini are part of the pairing at Nonesuch River Brewing in Scarborough. Photo courtesy of Nonesuch River Brewing

Liquid Riot Resto-Bar in Portland will be serving a cocktail called Silk Road. It features a house rum blend, mango, a Caribbean syrup called Falernum, grapefruit, cinnamon, lemon and aromatic bitters. It’ll be paired with Chicken Sambousek, which includes Middle Eastern “empanadas,” almonds, golden raisins, couscous, turnip greens and curry.

Maine Table in South Portland is pairing its seafood-stuffed mushrooms with the diner’s choice of Maine-based Big Claw white wine or Gin and Juice. The mushrooms are stuffed with shrimp, scallops and crabmeat. The Gin and Juice features Black River Gin from Union, plus fresh lemon juice, mango puree and orange juice.

The Honey Paw in Portland is offering two pairing choices. One features a Strong Paw, with tequila, mezcal, honey, lime and chili, paired with fried chicken wings. The wings have lime, chili and coconut. The other pairing features a cocktail of  gin, lemon, honey, aperol and ginger kombucha, paired with lobster toast. The toast dish includes lobster and scallop mousse, lime, radish and tarragon emulsion.

At 40Paper in Camden, the appetizer is grilled octopus with romesco sauce, charred orange, greens, and shaved almonds. The cocktail is a Ranchito Verde – tequila, cilantro, mint, pineapple, jalapeno and Velvet Falernum.

At BlueFin North Atlantic Seafood in Portland, the pairing features a drink and dessert. The cocktail, Make Me Blush, combines Tito’s Vodka, Godiva chocolate liqueur and raspberry nectar. The dessert is the chef’s raspberry-filled beignets with chocolate fondue dipping sauce.

“Make Me Blush” cocktail at BlueFin in Portland. Photo by Jim Raycroft Photography

Top of the East, atop the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, will have two choices for pairings. The cocktails are named for people who have stayed at the historic hotel. There’s one called The Lindbergh, for aviator Charles, with gin, creme de violette, vanilla and lemon. Roosevelt’s Revenge features Ice Pik vodka, Galliano and oranges and is named for former First Lady Eleanor. For appetizers, people can choose the Bar Snack Trio of smoked spiced almonds, pretzels and gaufrettes (waffled potatoes) or Parmesan-truffle potato chips.

Gather in Yarmouth is offering a fried Atlantic smelt with creole remoulade, paired with a Switchel, made with Stroudwater vodka, fresh ginger, maple, lemon and apple cider vinegar.

Nonesuch River Brewing in Scarborough will offer its Hot & Dirty Martini with Twenty Two vodka, zesty brine and red piri piri-stuffed olive. The appetizer is Pineland Farm smoked cheddar and brown-sugar cured bacon arancini (rice balls) with house balsamic glaze.

For more pairings and a complete list of restaurants participating in Maine Restaurant Week, go to

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