Restaurants: Many going out this New Year’s Eve

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LEWISTON — If you’re going out for New Year’s Eve, you may want to make reservations.

Mild weather, an improved economy and falling gas prices mean more people will ring in 2015 by going out on the town, local restaurateurs say.

“Right now, we’ve got 300 people” for Sea40’s New Year’s Eve Bash, said hostess Gloria Escobar. “We expect the number to increase.”

DaVinci’s Eatery also will be busy Wednesday night, said officer manager Laura O’Brien.

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At Fish Bones American Grill, a staffer said the restaurant is booked on New Year’s Eve.

So is Fuel.

The Ramada Inn, which hosts an annual New Year’s Eve party in the grand ballroom, expects to be booked by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Ramada Assistant General Manager Richard Nelson said they’re seeing their best year in eight or nine years.

“It’s been tremendous for the entire state of Maine,” Nelson said.

He attributed Maine’s improved fortune to good weather, an improving economy and low gas prices.

Adding to that is that Lewiston-Auburn continues to grow into a foodie community, where patrons support new and existing restaurants.

“Now more than ever, there’s a whole host of offerings in Lewiston-Auburn,” said Androscoggin Chamber of Commerce President Chip Morrison. “People can get whatever they want in a party atmosphere.”

Fuel owner Eric Agren announced in his December newsletter that he was already taking New Year’s Eve reservations.

“We sold out in 24 hours,” he said, adding that it’s easier to sell out when you have an 80-seat restaurant.

Each New Year’s Eve, Fuel sets a different theme. This year, the theme is a masquerade ball. Men will wear suits; women, evening dresses. All will be invited to wear fancy masks.

Before customers are driven home in limos, they’ll dine on an unusual five-course dinner — a replica of the Titanic passengers’ last meal. The menu will include beef consomme, a chicken dish, a salmon dish with diced tomatoes and infused Hollandaise sauce, New York strip steak, pureed carrots with fresh English peas and potato au gratin, and eclairs for dessert.

At the Ramada, partyers will dance to Pat Colwell and the Soul Sensations, a nine-piece band with guest singers, including Bette Sanborn. It’ll be “a little bit of everything” to please the expected 250 guests, Nelson said.

Many will start the celebration by dining in Ramada’s restaurant, Fusion. Nelson expects all hotel rooms will be booked, some by partyers, others by families with children who want to enjoy the indoor pool.

Rails Restaurant, which recently opened in the historic Grand Trunk Depot on Lincoln Street, said it has a good crowd for Wednesday night.

As of Friday, “we have made reservations for 40,” said owner Stephen Dick. He probably won’t take a lot more so “it doesn’t turn into a train wreck, even if we are Rails,” he joked.

The farm-to-table restaurant will offer five special entrees that evening.

“The chefs have been working on it,” he said.

Dick said he’s pleased with the community’s reception of the newest restaurant in town, which opened Dec. 5.

Ten days after the restaurant opened, it was burglarized. Its computer was smashed and liquor and a safe were stolen. The safe was later recovered, unopened.

Despite the damage, it opened for lunch the next day, Dick said.

Over the weekend, a number of patrons came in, saying they weren’t planning to go out to eat, but they were saddened when they read about the burglary and wanted to show Rails their support.

The restaurant owner said he was moved.

“It’s absolutely terrific,” Dick said. “People are proud of the city.”

Ice Festival tickets go on sale Jan. 1

LEWISTON — “Frozen” continues to be popular, not just the movie but the upcoming Ice Festival of Lewiston-Auburn.

This year’s festival will be held Feb. 20-22 at the Fountain Park courtyard at the Bates Mill complex.

Tickets go on sale Jan. 1. at the festival’s website: http://icefestla.com/.

On Jan. 5, orders will be taken through the L/A Arts box office, 782-7228, according to the festival’s Web page. Tickets for Friday night are $15; Saturday night admission is $25, which includes some food. Sunday is family day and admission is free.

The idea of the ice festival came from Jules Patry, owner of DaVinci’s Eatery. The festival, which has been successful, is a fundraiser for L/A Arts. 

In the first year, organizers expected to sell 300 tickets — but 800 were sold. Last year, the Saturday night event sold out and more than 3,000 people attended the three-day event, making it one of the largest ice festivals in Maine. The 2014 festival included three ice bars, three ice-carving demonstrations, a 15-foot igloo and 20 ice sculptures.

Those attending during the day enjoyed the artistic sculptures made of ice. At night, the sculptures are lit up and drinks are served by bartenders at the outside bars, while warm food is served inside.

This year, L/A Arts is lining up local bands to perform.

The Lewiston Regional Technical Center’s Green Ladle students will take the lead on preparing food. Local restaurants also will serve Saturday night.

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