Twelve is a love letter to New England Food

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Housed in a historic building reconstructed brick by block on the waterfront, Twelve impresses with more than a dozen reasons to eat in Maine.


photo provided

You’d think news of a great restaurant opening in mid-July in the foodie capital of Portland, Maine, would kick off the kitchen. But, taking a cue from Executive Chef Colin White, let’s focus on the backstory of the dazzling restaurant that houses the new restaurant, twelveAs he likes. “I feel the restaurant needs to live up to the building’s name, and we have to honor its history,” White says.

What a history. Originally built 127 years ago as part of the Portland Company’s railroad factory, the structure was known as “Building 12: Model Warehouse,” where employees built the train’s gears and gears. People all over the city still call them The Twelve. It turned out that the only way to rehabilitate the old factory was to literally dismantle the building by a brick, and rebuild it in his new home on the waterfront.

Looks cumbersome, doesn’t it? But the team’s laser focus on unearthed beauty makes perfect sense, given the 2,000-square-foot, 85-seat “Modern New England” roster, the latest project from Prentice Hospitality Group. “The main focus of each dish is the [the region]White explains. The “twelve” also refers to seasonality and the months of the year, as the rotating plates showcase sustainable produce bought in high season from the region’s farmers markets, as well as proteins from local fish farmers and farms. If the meal is the whole building, the ingredients such as fresh oysters from Chebeague Island oystersYogurt from Milkhouse and Creamery Farmbeef from Caldwell Farms She is the individual, the precious brick.

The main menu served in the dining room is a four-course delight starting at $82 a pop, with larger à la carte options on the patio and at the bar, where you can sip international wines and cocktails with local ingredients. The prixe-fixe journey begins with a small topping—”a little thank you for coming,” White says—with a delicious oyster chowder-inspired jogger pastry on the opening menu. Next, the “from the market” vegetable course celebrates Maine’s produce in season, such as fresh zucchini with lemon and preserved rye. Next, eat one of the three appetizers, which are small vegetable bowls or small pancakes. The opening menu features a venison pie perfected by culinary chef Hannah Ryder and served with charcoal cream. Which begs the question, of course: What is charcoal cream? The chef burns a bowl of cream with glowing charcoal, then filters the mixture and season with lactic acid, crowning with a fluffy cream that sings with light smoke and acidity.

For the main event, three or four entrees focus on meat, fish, or larger vegetable offerings. Take monkfish with salmon and pea roe, which swim in a rich broth of melted whey with butter, plus chives oil and fresh chives added to the mix. A wooden mushroom chicken is glazed with porcini broth, with shredded meat and umami sliced ​​by fermented green mustard. Finish on a sweet note—say the crowd-pleasing chocolate pudding, which is served tableside with all the garnishing for the handcrafted dessert. “We also like to take a look at some of the French-Canadian and Yankee traditions of New England that the rest of the country may not know very well, but the people here are familiar with,” White says. Expect a lobster roll, of course, but also a chance to delve into lesser-known terrain. Take in the tricks, or the French Acadian buckwheat pancakes enjoyed in northern Maine, that replace the classic blini at Twelve’s caviar service. In addition to your fall forecast? Pack a cable knit sweater on your weekend trip to delve into your next potato tart served with delicious glaze and cheese.

White worked on the list for about two years after joining the project in 2020, which was a bit of a homecoming. He had worked in Portland before, then moved to New York City for 13 years, working at Eleven Madison Park and Daniel. Meandering to Maine, where his wife Selena grew up, has always been in the cards, with the pandemic moving into this schedule. General Manager Daniel Gorlas – who previously worked at the famous Central Park restaurant Per C – pushed for a fixed award. The team bounced around four or five ideas that existed prior to the current incarnation. Some dishes, though, have proven perfect off the bat, like this delicious Georgia Macon ice cream sandwich made with blueberry cornmeal cookie biscuits and bay leaf ice cream. “Just before I used it, she tasted it for us,” White says. “Once I tried one of those, I was like, ‘Okay, this should be on the list. “

Inside the restaurant, the decoration is forged L. Bonime Design The faux finishes were abandoned in favor of a clean coastal color palette and natural materials—copper beams and large oak tables—will age over time. It’s also no surprise that designers in Maine moved to the main stage with an installation by an artist Christina WatkaStools at the 7-Seater Chef’s Table by Furniture Maker Heidi Martincustom panels by Meg Walsh of C&M Ceramic.

As if we need another motivation to head to Maine this summer and beyond. But for Portland locals? “We really want to be a restaurant for Mainers,” White says. “It’s important for us to engage the local audience and get them to eat some really great food.”

Tuesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., 115 Thames Street, Portland, Maine, twelvemain.com.

Cod Slow Cooked Whey and Trout Roe Twelve Portland Restaurant

Cod – slow cooked with whey roe and trout. photo provided

Maple Ice Cream Sandwich with Chocolate and Cocoa Nibs Twelve Portland Restaurant

Maple ice cream sandwich with chocolate and cocoa nibs. photo provided

Twelve Portland Restaurant

Detail of Barnacles Walls created by Christina Watka. photo provided

Twelve Portland Restaurant

mermaid candlestick; photo provided

Golden Potato Tart - Glazed with Cheddar and Mizuna, Portland Restaurant

Spring vegetable salad. photo provided

Golden Potato Tart - Glazed with Cheddar and Mizuna, Portland Restaurant

Golden potato tart. photo provided

Cod, seasonal vegetables, glazed tart fries and heck a dozen Portland restaurants

Cod, seasonal vegetables, glazed potato tart and hake. photo provided

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