The news is out there, everywhere, and everyone is all abuzz because ... Maine Restaurant Week starts tomorrow. There are plenty of ways you can read all about it: here's Meredith Goad's preview in The Portland Press Herald; it's the cover story of Portland Monthly's March issue; and then there's the official site and the Facebook page. But if you want just the facts, ma'am, the bullet points, a quick rundown of the who, what, where — here they are:
1) It starts with breakfast: At 7 a.m., no less. The Incredible Breakfast Cookoff launches MRW with a jolt - coffee and the competition for Maine's Best Breakfast at Sea Dog Brewing Co. in South Portland. Will The Good Table in Cape Elizabeth win its fourth straight title for its Creme Brulee French Toast? Tickets are available at the door for $25 and be advised; the event can be a mob scene.
2) It's more than a week: Is any Restaurant Week just one week anymore? (No, but "Restaurant Two Weeks" sounds weird.) Participating restaurants are offering special menus and pricing from March 1-10, including weekends.
3) Prices vary: During MRW, 3-course, prix-fixe dinners are $22, $32 and $42 (even the highest number is a bargain at places like David's Opus 10 and Natalie's at Camden Harbour Inn). Some restaurants are also offering lunch for $15.
4) It extends well beyond Portland: At last count, 79 restaurants had signed on to participate in MRW, but since there are usually some that jump on board at the last minute, that number may go up. The majority are in Portland, but the list includes places as far north as Bangor and Camden and as far south as Ogunquit.
5) There's an app: It's got menus, maps, event info and more and it's free on iTunes.
6) It ends with a cocktail party: The Signature Event Cocktail + Dessert Competition is MRW's grand finale on Sunday, March 10; taking place this year at Prime Mercedes Benz in Scarborough. "The showroom and massive service area will be temporarily transformed into a fun nightclub" according to the MRW website. Added to the cocktail and dessert throw-down this year: a sushi bar by Whole Foods and Gengi Sushi. Tickets are $45, with discounts if you buy two or four; this event has traditionally been a sell-out.
7) It benefits a local charity: Proceeds from the Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off and ticket sales from the Signature Event benefit United Way of Greater Portland.