It's been a busy week of openings in Portland. Aside from The Bearded Lady's Jewel Box (which opened softly over the weekend and officially last night), two new Asian restaurants are now vying for your dollars, a "country" bar wants you to pour your own beer, and a candy shop wants to offer you more chocolaty treats than ever before in a bigger, beautiful space.
Dean'sSweets, the candy shop in question, is completing its move from Middle St. to Fore St. and opens its doors today. Co-owner Dean Bingham, the chocolatier after whom the company is named, is also an architect (perhaps most known locally for his work on Grace, the restaurant in a restored church). Co-owner Kristin Thalheimer Bingham said Dean built out the majority of their new space with help from licensed plumbers and electricians. "We wouldn't have been able to do this without Dean's building skills," she emphasized. She also noted that finishing touches are still being applied, and the space will get better every day.
Eater asked the owners what they were most excited about, and what customers could expect from the new location:
We're excited about the new space because we'll have more room for making chocolate. We've more than doubled our kitchen and production space. Our customers will have more items to choose from over time - truffles, caramels, hot chocolate - as Dean can make more chocolate and even share the work space with a helper or two, which we haven't been able to do easily up till now. Customers will also be able to see Dean at work with our new open kitchen. Plus we're in a great part of Portland, steps away from Old Port.
With temperatures continuing to fall, a good source of hot chocolate is always welcome. 475 Fore Street, Portland, 207-899-3664, website. Open Monday - Thursday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Friday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Huong's Vietnamese Restaurant
This new pho restaurant had its grand opening last Saturday, replacing the short-lived Vietnam Restaurant, which occupied the space for about half a year. Huong's is already quite engaging on Facebook, posting pictures of its food with detailed descriptions and even translations, which ought to help it enter the consciousness of Portland's tech-savvy eaters. Check out the most recent status update:
Tired of microwaveables or fast food that tastes like plastic? Grab some Huong's com suon bi cha (rice with pork chops, shredded pork, steam egg meatloaf, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers) and make your co-workers jealous. Come get some! (Note: We recommend calling in and order ahead of time.)
According to the business' info section, the restaurant "is owned by Huong Le, whom was the first to open a restaurant in Portland that focused primarily on pho...near Portland High School." This refers, no doubt, to the similarly-named eatery that used to be on Cumberland Avenue. The original, still the best? 267 St. John Street, Portland, 207-775-2344, Facebook. Open Tuesday - Thursday 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Friday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Portland Food Map caught the announcement about yesterday's grand opening, which was written on the restaurant's front window. Via PFM's post: "Chef/owner Joe Tang has 30 years of restaurant experience, mostly in NH. For several years he was part of the staff at Wok Inn and most recently he worked at Empire Chinese Kitchen." Those who lament the lack of good Chinese food in the area, be sure to report back once you've tested the latest option. 511 Congress Street, Portland. Open daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Bonfire Country Bar
The latest Old Port offering from the company that runs 51 Wharf Nightclub and FortiFem Martiniti Lounge, country-themed bar Bonfire had its grand opening last Friday. A promotional video (backed by something more like stadium rock than country music) attempted to raise the stakes by offering free burgers for a year for the first 50 guests in the door. So, apparently Bonfire will serve burgers.
It's Maine's first bar to feature a self-serve beer wall, and perhaps the first business establishment to feature nothing but red Solo cups. Oh, and applicants were required to submit headshots. Does that about sum it up? Readers who visit and test out the beer wall are absolutely required to provide a full report of their findings. 37 Wharf Street, Portland, 877-653-7678, website. Opening hours not yet listed and no one could be reached immediately by phone.