Chefs plan to add some 'pop' to Brunswick dining scene

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BRUNSWICK — The town is about to get a new restaurant, but only for one night.

On the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 4, Brunswick’s Trattoria Athena at 25 Mill St. will turn into a “pop-up” French bistro.

Pop-up restaurants are a concept that is spreading across the country, according to chef Ali Waks-Adams. The bistro at Trattoria Athena will be Brunswick’s first.

Waks-Adams and her business partner, Christine Burns Rudalevige, are the founders of Butter+Salt, the new pop-up restaurant in Brunswick.

“We’re looking to enliven an already fabulous food scene here in Brunswick,” Waks-Adams said Monday.

A pop-up restaurant, according to Waks-Adams, is a concept where existing restaurants let guest chefs take over their kitchen for the night to give their clientele something “out of the ordinary.”

A study conducted by the website in 2014 found that pop-up restaurants are the fastest growing trend in food and beverage industry events nationwide.

“This is an exciting part of the restaurant industry right now,” Waks-Adams said. “It gives you a chance to be a part of this ecosystem … without waiting for the (capital needed) to open a restaurant.”

Waks-Adams moved to Brunswick a year and a half ago after working in restaurants in Philadelphia for the past 15 years.

She became friends with Christine Burns Rudalevige, a Brunswick-based chef and food writer.

Although Brunswick has a lot of food options, French cuisine is not one of them, giving Waks-Adams and Burns Rudalevige the idea for the pop-up.

Waks-Adams spent the summer making pastries at Trattoria Athena, and said owner and founder Tim O’Brien was receptive to the idea of a pop-up.

In preparation, the cooking pair has been testing recipes in Burns Rudalevige’s kitchen, and they’ve set a prixe fixe menu for Nov. 4.

The meal will be four courses, Waks-Adams said, starting with an oxtail marmalade on toast – similar to a rich beef stew, but more intense – with parsley salad and pickled onions.

That will be followed by a bouillabaisse – seafood stew featuring local catch like pollock, lobster, clams and mussels.

After that will be a cheese course, and a lemon tart for dessert.

Aside from the lemons and a few other items, all of the ingredients used to make the meal will be sourced locally, Waks-Adams said. The chefs will be purchasing meat from Bisson’s Meat Market in Topsham, and cheese from Winter Hill Farm and Appleton Creamery in Topsham and Appleton, respectively.

Beer will be from Maine, Waks-Adams, said; she is working on a pairing with Allagash. The wine, however, will be French.

Butter+Salt is not yet a formal business; Waks-Adams and Burns Rudalevige will be hired in a private capacity by Trattoria Athena, as if they were producing an event, Waks-Adams said.

But, she said, depending on Wednesday night’s success, and other events like it, the two may consider formally incorporating.

They’re already planning their next pop-up: a “creative comfort food” restaurant to be staged in January.

Waks-Adams said her real dream is to have a pop-up restaurant at the Androscoggin Swinging Bridge. “I would love to do a long table down the middle of that bridge,” she said.

Tickets for Wednesday night’s event are $65. They can be purchased online on

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Bouillabaisse will be on the menu Tuesday, Nov. 4, at a pop-up restaurant planned by Brunswick chefz Ali Waks-Adams and Christine Burns Rudalevige.

French food, like merangue, prepared by Butter+Salt, a collaboration of two local chefs, will be served at a one-night “pop-up” restaurant at Trattoria Athena in Brunswick Nov. 4.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.