Meanwhile, alongside the bars and lounges, many of the award-wining restaurants dotting the city are increasingly giving just as much attention to their craft cocktail programs. There are food-nerd favorites like the Honey Paw, which dovetails its Asian menu with numbers like Dancing by Yourself, a pour of Cocchi Americano, Fernet, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, and mint.
How would you’d describe your cuisine? Is it fusion?
I would say that most American restaurants could fall under the category of fusion. The culture diversity of this country has ensured that we have developed a vast repertoire of culinary influences, drawing from many different places. There term itself has developed a negative connotation over the years, possibly because many restaurants have failed to merge different cuisines in a thoughtful manner. At The Honey Paw, we strive to draw inspiration from previous knowledge and experiences to create dishes in which the ingredients work well together in new and exciting ways.
Chefs/co-owners of Eventide Oyster Co. Andrew Taylor, 36, and Mike Wiley, 35, recently won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northeast for their wildly popular eatery in Portland, Maine and they’re set to open a Boston outpost in Fenway in August. The pair met as colleagues at Hugo’s in Portland, which they jointly purchased in 2012. Their company, Big Tree Hospitality, also operates the Honey Paw, an Asian-inflected restaurant, as well as a commissary, Big Tree Foods, in Biddeford, Maine.
With the restaurants Hugo’s, Eventide and Honey Paw, the partners of Big Tree Hospitality have achieved remarkable success. This week we speak with Arlin Smith, Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor about their own stories, winning the 2017 James Beard Award, and what life is like as they expand their business outside of Portland.
While Hugo’s, Eventide Oyster Co. and They Honey Paw have separate storefronts and entrances, they share a single kitchen. Each restaurant has its own line, and there is a larger prep area with a walk-in cooler. All three restaurants share the staff meal, which is served at 3:30 p.m. every day and prepared by multiple people.
“From the beginning, we didn’t want our staff meal to be an afterthought,” says Smith. “When I was working other restaurants, there were days when I would say, “Why did I wait around for this?” The meal was just such a disappointment. It totally defeated the purpose of having a family meal.”
Stroll down Portland, Maine’s wide brick-laid sidewalks these days, and you’re likely to see—and smell—the signs of the city’s culinary boom. In onetime factory buildings and warehouses just inland from the wharfs, young Turks of the food world are serving up flavors from far-flung corners of the globe—Indonesia, Polynesia, Mexico and Japan—in addition to modern American fare. Their tables are packed with epicureans who increasingly are making pilgrimages to the city just for the food.
Take the ferry to Peaks Island. Eat your weight in lobster rolls at Portland Lobster Company, and be sure to also hit Central Provisions, The Honey Paw, and Eventide Oyster Co., the "oyster bar of your dreams."
After clocking long shifts at Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, Maine, chef Mike Wiley needs a gratifying meal, fast. “It’s a quick and dirty little fried fish sandwich,” he said of this week’s Slow Food Fast contribution, known at the restaurant as the Mike. “I eat it regularly.”