Discover a New
43 Middle St., Portland, Maine
Everyone talks about the
fries here. And for good
reason. The potatoes are
grown at Skylandia Farm in
Aroostook County, cooked
in duck fat, served in a cone
and are very close to perfect.
But there’s something else
very special at this tiny (a
few tables and some stools
at a bar along a brick wall)
neighborhood cafe, owned
by Rob Evans (Hugo’s) and
Nancy Pugh: the truffle ketchup. Sure, there are delicious panini, a $5 milkshake
(that goes for $4), soups and
salads—even dessert (the
churros are popular) and
homemade sodas (try the
ginger). But there’s nothing
like sitting at a cafe table
outside on one of Portland’s
rare sunny days and dipping
your french fry—perfectly
warm-airy-and-tender on the
inside—into some earthy, rich
and satisfying ketchup. Yes,
it’s the kind you want to slurp.
It’s that good.
restaurant in the city. The New York
Times named it the best new restaurant
in the country. And Food & Wine called
it one of the top 10 in the world. And yet
the restaurant is unpretentious, cozy
and warm. This could have to do with its
intimacy; a former firehouse with brick
walls and concrete floors, it has only 37
seats, almost half at the sushi bar. But
it more than likely has to do with the
food: the most pristine of ingredients
showcased with an artist’s eye attuned to
appearance, but also flavor and texture.
A crispy shiso leaf alongside buttery
lobster. A tiny microgreen balanced atop
the most delicate slice of salmon. A single
kumamoto oyster with tiny pearls of
watermelon and a cucumber mignonette.
These dishes read as if they’re delicate,
but you’ll be dazzled.
Forget You’re Miles
Away from a Metropolis
340 Warren St., Hudson, N. Y.
At Swoon Kitchenbar, you might find a
cookbook called Pork & Sons on top of
the zinc bar and a guy wearing red suspenders behind it. Bet ween that and the
earthen crocks that decorate the lounge
and the billowy curtains that soften the
dining room, you’ll feel like you’re in a
quaint little village in the country. That
is, until you eat the food. Nearly all of it
is sourced locally, and every provenance
is listed on the back of the menu, from
the farm that raises the pork to the
person who picks the flowers. And it’s
delicious (the food; not the flowers).
Lusty beef with a rich red wine sauce.
Delicate greens with a local blue cheese.
Runny poached eggs on duck confit
hash potatoes. This is real food, cooked
simply and without pretense.
Fine Dining Is Fun
The White Barn Inn
37 Beach Ave., Kennebunkport, Maine
These days, it might seem unusual
for waiters to wear white tuxedo jackets,
especially at a place that’s only a stone’s
throw from the beach. But most of the
beachgoers at the White Barn Inn probably weren’t making sandcastles with
the kids; they likely were lounging on the
yacht. Whichever you were doing, you’ll
revel in the luxury of the restaurant: its
soaring wooden-beamed ceilings and
old hay loft, the twinkling of a piano, the
affable but professional service. Chef
Jonathan Cartwright’s food—scallop on
salsify puree with American paddlefish
caviar, prawn carpaccio with passionfruit
and yuzu, pesto-glazed lamb—is well-balanced and creative, and the restaurant
stands tall among the clam shacks and
tourists traps, shining a beacon of light for
gourmands passing in the night.
AS K LE N N Y
AJ Maxwell’s proprietor
Lenny Passerelli was told
when he was a young
boy to not go into the
family business of restaurant ownership. His father
wanted him to be a doctor,
a lawyer or an accountant.
Lenny feels he knows more
than any established professional when it comes to
life’s unimportant facets,
so he decided to steer clear of his dad’s
advice and become a restaurateur. Visit
him at AJ Maxwell’s Steakhouse, where the
proprietor is happily solving guest’s problems
while spewing his daily sermon on the little
things in life that matter most.
Q: Lenny, what are your thoughts on the Jets
trading for Brett Favre?
Sal, Flushing, N Y
Lenny: I look at this the way I would when I bring
in a chef who is an older veteran. Has he lost his
arm? In restaurant terms, can he stand under a 1200
degree oven for hours and still have the stamina of
a younger chef The Jets spent 140 million dollars
this off-season, and they had to make this trade as
an older Brett Favre is a major upgrade over what
they had before. I think the Jets will win 10 games
and make the playoffs as a wild card.
Q: Lenny - I am making my girlfriend a special
meal before I propose to her. What should I make?
John, Brooklyn, NY
L: John, here are the essentials:
- Provided she says “yes”, make sure you have a
good bottle of Champange on hand.
- Chilled oysters are always a good thing to share
and are simple while romantic. A good cocktail
sauce is key.
- My proposal meal would be either a dry-aged Rib-eye for two or a Porterhouse for two.
Both can be served with creamed spinach and
- Dessert could be something light and sexy, like
strawberries. This will complement the champagne. Congratulations.
Q: Lenny, I’m having dinner with a group of Investment Bankers this month who really know their
wine. What wine goes best with a Surf and Turf
Jake, N YC
L: Jake, the most important thing is to drink what
you enjoy regardless of the food. That being said,
a sturdy red will go reasonably well with a great
steak. Seafood is a little more challenging, especially if you’re looking to pair these two meals
together. Go to AJ Maxwells.com where I have
put together a video suggesting wine and food
pairings available at our restaurant. There are
a couple of ideas that might surprise you . You
can then impress your Investment Banker buddies
with your vast knowledge. Hope this helps you out.
Have a question for Lenny?
Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
The best question will receive a
100 dollar gift certificate.
AJ Maxwell’s is now opened for breakfast.
57 West 48th Street (bet 5th and 6th Avenue)
212-262-6200 • ajmaxwells.com