Scene

Look into Portland’s beloved restaurant scene before it was a foodie destination

PORTLAND, Maine —  Before it became a world-class foodie destination and engine of the city’s economic fortunes, Portland’s restaurant scene looked like a lot of fun.

That’s how old-school Portlander Abraham Schechter remembers it. The city library’s archivist, Schechter recently assembled a trove of historic menus and scenes from 1980s Portland restaurants for public viewing in the library’s digital collection.

Containing menus from 67 restaurants, bars and cafes, the new archive traces Portland’s nationally recognized food scene to its gritty, artsy origins.

Schechter found the menus years ago buried in a forgotten box in a storage room. It took the

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How to devour Portland’s restaurant scene, ‘Top Chef’-style

Between the pandemic, the protests and the persistent wildfire smoke, there was no way the first filmed-in-Portland season of “Top Chef” could highlight the city’s food scene with the style of previous seasons.

Case in point: Episode 2, with its Quickfire Challenge inspired by Portland’s once-proud, “Portlandia”-parodied obsession with the first meal of the day. Instead of cutaways to locals sipping coffee while spearing bites of corned beef tongue hash at Coquine or balancing architectural avocado toast at Proud Mary, we settle for Portland chef and guest judge Gregory Gourdet rattling off a few of his favorites — “Fried Egg

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