The Wrap: New restaurants for golfers, clean eaters

There might be a hole-in-one this time. Portland City Council last week approved licenses for a new restaurant on the Riverside Municipal Golf Course.

The Club at Riverside will replace the Riverside Grill, which closed on November 22nd. The city owns the building at 1158 Riverside St. and previously managed the restaurants there, but has now decided to step down and simply be the landlord. The premises were leased to Jessica Lynn Toher of Portland. Toher didn’t immediately respond via email and phone call for more information, but according to her application to the city, she plans to open a pub-style restaurant with a full bar, serving both indoors (including karaoke) and will provide entertainment outside. It’s unclear if she has previous experience running a restaurant, but according to The Club at Riverside’s Facebook page, she was a regular at the former Riverside Grill.

“In 2017 we moved less than a mile from the Riverside Golf Course and frequented the Riverside Grill,” Toher wrote. “Whether it was a family dinner or a sunset nightcap with friends, it always brought back memories. This room has captured my heart ever since.”

Toher’s original opening date was June 1, but the opening has been delayed because her City Council hearing was scheduled for June 7.

Clean Eatz meets Scarborough

Cape Neddick’s Robert Fontes has opened a Scarborough franchise of Clean Eatz, a “healthy lifestyle restaurant” that serves meals with a balance of protein, carbs and fats.

Clean Eatz at 300 Gallery Blvd. has a 22-seat cafe but also offers take-out, catering and pre-packaged, heatable and consumable meals for bulk pickup, all for people who want to eat better or who have dietary restrictions. The menu includes salads, wraps, smoothies, flatbreads, build-your-own bowls and burgers made with turkey, black beans, salmon or bison.

Fontes attended culinary school in San Francisco and worked in restaurants in San Diego before working as a general contractor for almost 20 years. In 2001, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and started taking medication, but also decided, “I need to play an active role in my own well-being, so I need to stop eating fast food,” he said. “And try to take better care of myself from a nutritional perspective.”

Changing his diet noticeably improved his overall health, Fontes said. It also helped him compete in bike races, like the 3,100-mile Race Across America in 2016. “To train for that, I had to be very careful about how I was eating and what I was eating,” Fontes said. “I was working with a nutritionist and I was eating almost 4,000 calories a day. Trying to stay on top of things was an absolute nightmare.”

Then Fontes and his wife, then living in Raleigh, NC, discovered Clean Eatz, where ingredients and calorie information are clearly spelled out on the menu. They became regular customers. When they moved to Maine, they decided to open their own franchise – the first Clean Eatz in Maine.

Opening hours are Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The grill room opens again

The Grill Room and Bar at 84 Exchange St. in Portland reopened late last week. The restaurant is open Thursday through Saturday from 5pm to 9pm with Happy Hour from 4pm to 6pm

Harding Smith, owner of The Rooms restaurants, said The Corner Room at 110 Exchange St. is ready to open, but staffing issues are keeping it closed for now. The Corner Room’s chef, he said, helped reopen The Grill Room. The Front Room at 73 Congress St. reopened in early May. Smith said all of the staff at that restaurant have returned to work.

International market closes

D Ajans Supermarket at 170 Brighton Ave. in Portland has closed. The grocery store specializes in American, Pakistani, Indian and Middle Eastern products, including Halal meat. It opened in October.

Plant-based pop-up

S+P, the plant-based cooking company based at Fork Food Lab in Portland, is hosting a pop-up dinner Monday at Little Giant, 211 Danforth St., also in Portland.

The seven-course tasting menu is $75 and includes dishes like chicken and waffles, dumplings two ways, and fig caponata. Seating times are at 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Purchase tickets through Open Table at bit.ly/3waKmpz.

A batch of 12 oysters – six different varieties – from Maine Oyster Co. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Go new ways

The Maine Oyster Trail restarted Monday after an overhaul. Inspired by the Maine Beer Trail, the Oyster Trail has a new website (maineoystertrail.com), new interactive components, and a new incentive system so you can reward yourself for eating oysters.

An online trip planner allows you to customize your “oyster experience” by choosing from activities such as oyster farm tours and visits to raw food bars or mobile shuck trucks in coastal Maine. “You can filter these experiences by various criteria and send yourself an itinerary,” says Afton Hupper of the Maine Aquaculture Association.

The site features 75 Maine oyster shops, including ones where visitors can buy oysters directly from the farmers. Join the mobile Oyster Passport program and every time you check into a store, earn points on oyster items like Maine Oyster Trail koozies, baseball caps and canvas tote bags.

When it was launched in 2017, the Maine Oyster Trail was basically an exhaustive list of all the oyster farms and restaurants in Maine that sold oysters. The new version is considered unique.

“To my knowledge, it’s the first oyster trail in the country to have an interactive trip planner component as well as a reward structure,” said Hupper.

Big tippers

On Saturday, a couple walked into the Rí Rá Irish Pub and Restaurant in Portland and ordered nachos, some chicken sandwiches and a pint of Magners Irish cider. The bill came to $55.50. They left a $1,000 tip, following in the footsteps of the generous diner, who left a $1,400 tip at Bird & Co. in December, and a Maine restaurant recruitment firm, who also tipped generously. The pandemic may have brought out the worst in us, but it also brought out the best.


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