May is shaping up to be a good month for food and drink in the Seacoast. First up, Gary Kim and Julian Armstrong are set to open The Wallingford Dram, located in the same building in Kittery Foreside as their restaurant Anju Noodle Bar. The Wallingford Dram will feature an extensive craft cocktail program helmed by Michael Jack Pazdon, as well as a carefully curated selection of local and international beer and wine paired with small plates.
Pazdon is a new addition to the Wallingford Dram family, having come on as a partner in the business in January. Originally from Durham, Pazdon spent a decade and a half working in New York City and California, most recently running the bar program at the nationally lauded Goose & Gander in Napa Valley. Pazdon says he is excited to turn his focus “towards the local landscape, and the myriad and often hidden flavors there for the sourcing.” Local and foraged food, as well as Kittery’s maritime history, will inform the food and drink menus, especially the house-made liqueurs, bitters, mixers, and tinctures in the cocktails.
The restaurant will seat 25, and Pazdon says there are future plans for outdoor seating. The grand opening takes place on Friday, May 1, which coincides with Anju’s one-year anniversary.
Also in May, R.J. Joyce and James Woodhouse, owners of Gigi’s in York, Maine, will open Louie’s, a new, rustic, Italian-inspired restaurant at 86 Pleasant St. in Portsmouth in early May. Patrons can expect fresh pastas, cured meats, cheeses, mushrooms, and lots of wine at Louie’s.
Joyce and Woodhouse have between them an extensive wine and spirits background. Both have worked as bartenders, most recently at the Black Trumpet Bistro in Portsmouth, which is known for its wine bar.
“This is the food we like to eat and the wine we like to drink. It’s rustic, simple, and creative,” says Woodhouse.
The month also sees the opening of The Franklin Oyster House, the latest venture from chef Matt Louis of Moxy and restaurateur Jay McSharry. In a previous interview with The Sound, Louis described the restaurant as a casual, “oyster-forward” establishment. Franklin Oyster House will be located at 148 Fleet St. in Portsmouth, next to RiverRun Bookstore.
No Menu Monday
Kate Holowchik of Bread & Salt Hospitality in Boston will visit Moxy in Portsmouth on Monday, April 20, as part of Louis’ ongoing guest-chef series No Menu Monday, named for its spontaneous diversion from the restaurant’s general fare.
Holowchik recently accompanied Bread & Salt to the James Beard House to participate in cooking for one of the James Beard Foundation’s honorary dinners. Holowchik is no stranger to the Seacoast; she’s shown her strong background in pastries at several Stages Projects events at Stages at One Washington in Dover, where chefs share ongoing creative projects with other industry members.
“I am not known (as a) savory food professional,” says Holowchik. “People know me solely as a pastry chef. But I believe a chef should be well versed in savory and sweet, regardless of discipline. I am going to keep it playful, clever and whimsical. I am also going to apply typical pastry techniques to savory dishes and show people how far you can blur the lines.”
Tickets for No Menu Monday are $32 for a five-course menu. For reservations, call 603-319-8178.
Living it up at Leaven
Leaven Beer and Bread House in Somersworth has gone through some big changes. Known for its fresh-baked bread and wide beer selection, Leaven recently debuted a new menu that includes a build-your-own-burger section with ground beef from Pineland Farms in Maine, as well as a vegetarian option made completely with local beans. The new menu also features house-made ice cream, portabella sliders, and curried turkey salad sandwiches.
“Our goal for this menu is to feature more seasonal and locally-produced ingredients,” says Jameson Small of Leaven. “We are also incorporating a ‘blackboard’ menu featuring daily entrée specials and sharable, small-plate bites. This approach gives us the chance to rotate fresh ingredients and keep our guests on their toes with creative and changing dishes.”
Other changes include the addition of baker BreAnn Jaworowski to the staff, a new patio with outdoor seating, a “kitchen garden” for produce, and more events at the restaurant, starting with a bimonthly singer-songwriter series beginning April 16 and a monthly “100 Mile” dinner (using ingredients sourced within 100 miles of the restaurant) on May 20.
“Somersworth is evolving, and so must we,” says Small. “The people in the Berwick, Maine, and Somersworth community have a deep respect for good food and good company, and in a town that some see as a food desert, we are the oasis. We want to make Leaven a foodie hotspot here on the Seacoast.”