Residents of Bridgton seem awfully excited these days. Comments on the town’s Facebook page contain lots of OMGs and even more exclamation points, with a liberal sprinkling of words like “thrilling” and “amazing.”

The Bridgton roll at Elevation Sushi and Tacos: spicy crab, cucumber and avocado inside, ebi shrimp, avocado, jalapeño, eel sauce, spicy mayo and Sriracha dots outside. Photo courtesy Elevation Sushi and Taco

What’s everyone so happy about? A semi-normal summer of no masks and lots of concerts? Nope. All of that joy is directed toward Bridgton’s first sushi bar, scheduled to open its doors June 25 – or, because target opening dates can be squishy, sometime before July 4 weekend. It’s called Elevation Sushi and Tacos. (Yes, you read that right. Sushi. And tacos.) People in this small western Maine town are over the moon that they will no longer have to settle for grocery store sushi, or drive into Portland for the good stuff.

Elevation Sushi and Tacos, located at 103 Main St., Unit 1, is owned by Brownfield residents and California transplants Kimberly Morton and Mike Perez, in partnership with their son-in-law, sushi chef John Dexter, who just moved from California to Maine a couple of weeks ago. The restaurant will have 40 indoor and 20 outdoor seats.

“We definitely would consider ourselves both sushi and taco snobs, coming from the Los Angeles area,” said Morton, who owned a restaurant in California years ago but now works as a teacher. “Where we live up here, there’s really not much sushi and so we’re having to drive to Portland for it. We’ve been wanting to open a sushi place for a long time.”

The menu will be more sushi than tacos, Morton said, but the tacos will give people who don’t care for sushi an alternative. There will be a little crossover as well, she added, with sushi tacos and sushi nachos on the menu “just to throw a little twist in there.”

Morton said her son-in-law got started making sushi “as a way to keep out of trouble and off the streets. Working 13 hours a day making sushi kept him straight.” Dexter has worked in Las Vegas and in Los Angeles, where he was at the InterContinental, and at Chin Chin, a Chinese restaurant in El Segundo.

Pizza, too

Bridgton is also getting a new wood-fired pizza restaurant, Nora Belle’s at 2 Cottage St., next to the Bavarian Chocolate Haus. (Pizza and chocolate in the same building. Mind blown.)

A veggie pizza made by Calvin Gorrell, who will soon open Nora Belle’s pizzeria in Bridgton. Photo courtesy of Calvin Gorrell

The pizzeria is a longtime dream of chef Calvin Gorrell, who used his parents’ backyard brick oven to make pizzas for pop-ups and takeout during the pandemic. Gorrell grew up in Massachusetts, but has spent time in Maine all his life. He’s worked at Pai Men Miyake, East Ender and Evo in Portland, and at the Chebeague Island Inn, where he met his wife, who was a line cook there. Nora Belle’s is named after their 17-month-old daughter, Nora Basil Gorrell.

“I just wanted to have a space that I can have fun in, and do my favorite thing to do – make pizza,” Gorrell said.

Nora Belle’s will have 22-26 seats to start, all counter seating. Service will be fast casual, but as the business grows Gorrell hopes to add a patio with full-service dining. (But lunch will always be casual counter service, he said.) He will not be selling slices, to answer the question he gets most often. The pizzas will rotate on the menu, and will be priced in the $12-16 range for a pie that is about 12 inches. “I want to be approachable, and have a pizza for everyone,” Gorrell said.

Gorrell said what he most wants to emphasize is “the care and attention that goes into the dough itself and nature of the pizza.”

“The dough is going to be naturally leavened,” he said. “It’s never going to see the inside of a refrigerator, and I’ll mix the dough by hand.”

Gorrell hopes to open Nora Belle’s before July 4.

And more tacos …

The family that owns Luchador Tacos in South Paris plans to open a second location in Windham in mid-June.

The new restaurant, located at 781 Roosevelt Trail, will have 20 indoor seats and picnic tables for outdoor seating. Online ordering and takeout will be available, says Josh Mitchell, co-owner of the business.

Mitchell said the menu will be the same as that in South Paris, with most ingredients prepped daily in house.

New restaurant at Spruce Point Inn

The Spruce Point Inn, a historic resort in Boothbay Harbor, has a new restaurant, Whiteclover. The inn calls it “a reimagination of the resort’s previous upscale restaurant, a dining room familiar to generations of Spruce Point Inn guests where coat and tie was required … ”

The refurbished restaurant no longer requires a coat and tie, but still asks guests, including children, to refrain from wearing pool wear or athletic wear. The menu features lots of Maine ingredients such as lobsters, scallops, oysters, mussels and mushrooms.

Just our cup of tea

Sunday afternoon tea at Southern Maine Community College’s McKernan Center will begin June 13. Photo by Diane Hudson

If you’re a fan of the British royals, you’ll want to check out the new Sunday afternoon British tea service at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, launching June 13.

The Tea & Tides tea service will be held on the glass-enclosed porch at the Peter A. McKernan Hospitality Center, where guests will be able to enjoy great views of Casco Bay along with their sweet and savory snacks, freshly baked scones, and Harney & Sons tea. The food is prepared by SMCC’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management students; it’s an opportunity to give them real world experience.

The teas will be held year round, about every three weeks. The menu for the first tea includes items such as smoked salmon tartare with dilled cream cheese and cucumber on pain de mie; cheddar and chive scones; and lemon posset with blueberries – a silky mousse with origins in 16th-century England.

Staggered seatings will be scheduled between 2 and 4 p.m. The cost is $29.75 per person, not including tax and gratuity. To reserve, call (207) 741-5672.

The Lost Kitchen raises money for the hungry

The Lost Kitchen in Freedom used its famous postcard reservation system this year to raise more than $325,000 for Waldo County Bounty, a grassroots hunger relief initiative that launched at the beginning of the pandemic to increase access to local foods in the rural area.

Waldo County Bounty raises money to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers and distribute them to local food pantries and soup kitchens. It also supports gleaning programs, offers gardening education, and sponsors “give and take tables” where neighbors can hold produce exchanges.

Beginning May 18, The Lost Kitchen offered diners early access to the reservation system in exchange for a small donation to Waldo County Bounty. A donation did not guarantee a reservation. People who donated – a group that included diners from all over the world – received a link with information on how to request a reservation for this year. The early access lasted until May 24, when the information was made available to everyone on the restaurant’s website.

“The response has been overwhelming, and I am simply humbled by the outpouring of generosity from all the The Lost Kitchen friends across the country and around the world who helped make such a huge difference here in our rural community,” chef/owner Erin French said in a news release.

Fans of The Lost Kitchen can still make donations by going to waldocountybounty.me/tlk-2021-reservations.

Spot a brown cow

The Maine Farmland Trust is holding another statewide farm scavenger hunt this year. The first hunt was arranged last year as a pandemic-friendly activity for families to get outside and have fun together.

More than 300 people signed up for the summer-long event last year. They searched for brown cows in Maine farm fields and completed tasks such as cooking meals with local foods. This year’s hunt will consist of more than 30 tasks of varying degrees of difficulty. There will be prizes, including a grand prize for people or groups that complete all of the tasks. Registration is free; donations optional.

To sign up, visit go.mainefarmlandtrust.org/explore

Menu memories

Remember the Falmouth Foulmouth sandwich from Carbur’s Restaurant on Middle Street in Portland? It was made with hot pastrami, melted cheddar and the housemade beer mustard, and cost $3.25 in 1982. (The Falmouth Foreside sandwich, an old menu notes, was “the same as above but we charge $2.00 more.”)

The Portland Public Library has digitized the Carbur’s menu and other 1980s-era menus from local diners, restaurants and cafes. The collection includes such memorable-but-long-gone restaurants as Horsefeathers (Scallop Pie) on Middle Street and F. Parker Reidy’s (Teriyaki Sirloin Tips) on Exchange Street, but also early menus from places that are still around – spots such as DiMillo’s, J’s Oyster and Dock Fore.

To peruse your old favorites, go to digitalcommons.portlandlibrary.com/menus.


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