Launch of Thistle & Grouse gastropub in Old Port; Opening of Good Wine Bar in Saco

Thistle & Grouse, a two-story “modern gastropub” in the space of the former Rivalries sports bar at 10 Cotton St. in Portland, will open this Friday. Courtesy of Thistle & Grouse

Thistle & Grouse, a new gastropub in Porto Velho where Rivalries sports bar closed in Februaryis scheduled to open this Friday, December 1st.

Chef-owner Bobby Will said he had hoped to launch on Tuesday, but a grand opening on Monday led him to delay the grand opening for a few days to allow time to iron out some last-minute issues.

The Thistle & Grouse location at 10 Cotton St. covers more than 5,000 square feet, including a two-story dining room with seating for 108 people. Will described Thistle & Grouse as a “modern gastropub with an emphasis on local produce”.

Will’s partner in the venture is his fiancee, Kimberly Kraus. Will and Kraus ran Bar Harbor’s Salt & Steel restaurant for five years before closing it earlier this year. Will said many former Salt & Steel employees will join the Thistle & Grouse team.

Earlier in his career, Will was executive chef at Saltaire Oyster Bar and Fish House in Port Chester, NY, which received an “excellent” rating from the New York Times under his leadership. Previously, Will worked with renowned chefs such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Boston chef Andrew Husbands, and was also the head chef at the Atlantic Inn on Block Island.

Will said Thistle & Grouse’s menu, which will change seasonally, includes a raw bar section with a variety of Maine oysters; a selection of cheese, charcuterie and seacuterie boards; small plates like Roasted Beet Salad ($15), Heritage Roasted Pork Belly ($17) and Crispy Moulard Duck Drumettes ($24); and main dishes like Vadouvan Curry Duck Pot Pie ($31), Maine Seafood Cassoulet ($34) and Prime Beef Smash Burger ($18).

“We want the quality of what we offer to be fine dining, but we don’t want the plating or the cost to be fine dining. I don’t want people to feel like they can’t eat here except on special occasions. I want (prices) to be more affordable.” Will said. “The main dishes are rustic, but they’re more refined than putting a piece of meat on top of mashed potatoes and gravy.”

The Thistle & Grouse bar program features craft cocktails and local beers, plus wines by the glass ($10 to $15) or bottle ($30 to $90).

Thistle & Grouse will be open six days a week from 4pm, closed on Mondays. Will said the kitchen will close at 10pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, while offering a simplified menu from 10pm to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Will added that he hopes to add weekend brunch service later this winter, and by spring Thistle & Grouse will be open seven days.

GOOD WINE BAR LAUNCHES IN THE BAG

Veteran Maine restaurateurs Kim Lally and Sunny Chung are launching Good Wine Bar on Main Street in Saco this Friday.

Lally called the new 25-seat venue “very cozy, like a small family wine bar you would find almost anywhere in Europe.” The bar itself seats six people, and the interior also features “soft seating” like diapers and upholstered chairs.

The interior of Good Wine Bar, a “Mom and Pop” wine bar on Saco’s Main Street, which opens on Friday. Courtesy of Good Wine Bar

The Good Wine Bar serves nine wines by the glass ($10 to $15), along with a short curated bottle list, with an emphasis on Old World wines. The bar will also offer four draft beers and four classic signature cocktails.

The bar will have light food offerings, almost all under $20, including cheeses, charcuterie, canned fish, olives, nuts and seasonal salads. Lally said Good Wine Bar will also host a happy hour every day from 4 to 6 p.m.

The Good Wine Bar will be open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 4pm to 9pm.

A husband and wife team, Lally and Chung owned Main Street Steak and Oyster in Brunswick, which they sold in March; and Portland Korean restaurant Yobo, which sold out at the end of 2021.

“(Good Wine Bar) is a smaller thing, just Sunny and me,” Lally said. “It will be fun to be able to turn our favorite pastime and hobby into our full-time job now without being so stressed about the kitchen.”

TWO BIDDEFORD RESTAURANTS TO CLOSE

Sublime Taco announced on social media that its last day of service it will be Saturday.

“We made the decision to take Sublime Taco in a different direction, which we hope to share with all of you in the future,” the Instagram post read. The owners could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sublime Taco opened on Main Street in Biddeford five years ago before moving to 12 Washington St., its current location, in 2022. Sublime shared a kitchen in the Washington Street space with the adjacent Dunn’s bar.

Also in the center of Biddeford, specialty market and casual restaurant Part & Parcel recently announced on social media that it will close for good at the end of December.

“It will be our last holiday season at Part & Parcel,” said the November 25th Facebook Post reads in part. “The last 5+ years have given us more joy than we could have imagined.”

The owners, who could not immediately be reached for comment, asked customers to use their Part & Parcel gift cards before closing, adding that they hope to offer the full menu by Dec. 23, the last day.

They also hinted that they have found a new occupant for the space they will vacate at 17 Alfred St.

“We’ve been working hard to find the perfect fit and we’re happy to say that we think we’ve done just that,” the owners’ post stated. “While it may look different, the mission is the same – to provide great food and a welcoming environment for the local community.”

PORTLAND WINTER FARMERS MARKET RETURNS

The Portland Winter Farmers’ Market kicks off its season on Saturday, December 2 on Stevens Avenue.

Winter Market Manager David Koubek said the weekly event will feature 17 vendors, including a new summer market flower vendor, Meadow Ridge Perennial Farm of Hebron. Koubek said the winter market will have its usual variety of offerings, including meats, cheeses, fresh vegetables, mushrooms, root vegetables and other storage crops, Maine-grown grains, eggs, bread, oysters, garlands and fresh flowers.

The winter market runs Saturdays from 9am to 1pm until April 13 at the Stevens Square Community Center.

“We have high hopes for this agricultural show season,” Koubek said. “The atmosphere is great, there is a cafe in the foyer and we also have live music. It’s a great family atmosphere and it’s getting better every year. More and more people are returning as customers.

“It was a completely good year, although we had some challenges with a wetter and cooler summer,” continued Koubek. “But our farmers are quite adaptable and have risen to the occasion.”

FROSTY’S DONUTS RAISES FUNDS FOR ILL BAKER

A sign in the window of Frosty’s in Biddeford asks for donations to help cover medical expenses for a baker who has cancer. Photo by Peggy Grodinsky

Frosty’s Donuts of Brunswick is getting closer to the goal of the gofundme account it launched to raise funds for one of its bakers, who is battling cancer.

According to Frosty’s gofundme page, baker James Brewer, 44, was recently diagnosed with cancer. The page describes Brewer as “an integral part of Frosty’s baking team – as well as our kitchen manager – for over 10 years.” Brewer lost his father and mother-in-law to cancer, according to the Frosty article, “so you can imagine what an emotional journey this has been for him.”

Frosty’s aims to raise $7,500 to help offset the cost of Brewer’s radiation and chemotherapy. As of Tuesday afternoon, the gofundme – launched in August – had raised $6,621.

“James brought so much joy to so many people,” Frosty’s gofundme page states. “We will return this favor by giving what we can.”


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