Dining Dish: Portland eateries make it easy to count lunch-time calories

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A new year often prompts a new weight-loss plan or exercise program, and with a new Calories Count Lunch initiative in Portland, diners will have a little help.

Several Portland restaurants are partnering with the city’s obesity prevention initiative, Smart Meals for ME, to offer a variety of lunch items at the price of their calorie count, making it easy to select a healthier option while saving a few dollars.

The program kicks off on Tuesday, Jan. 3, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participating Portland restaurants include DiMillo’s On the Water, 25 Long Wharf; El Rayo, 101 York St; Sebago Brewing Co., 211 Fore St., and the Spartan Grill, 24 Monument Square.

But before the dieting begins, many restaurants in greater Portland are offering New Year’s Eve dinners by reservation. The winter also brings a few new restaurants and new seasonal trends.

Pai Men Miyake at 188 State St. in Portland will offer a $35 three-course New Year’s Eve dinner with a choice of appetizer, ramen and dessert.

At Hugo’s, 88 Middle St., Portland, diners can enjoy a $95 five-course meal on New Year’s Eve. Starting Tuesday, Jan. 3, the six-course tasting menu will be half price and available Tuesday through Saturday through April.

In addition to their regular hours of operation, the Pepper Club at 78 Middle St., Portland, will be open each Friday and Saturday from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., including New Year’s Eve.

The Back Bay Grill at 65 Portland St., Portland, will offer a four-course, $85 New Year’s Eve menu.

Customers can get a seven-course New Year’s Eve meal for $55 at Bar Lola, at 100 Congress St. in Portland.

A few other Portland restaurants – Caiola’s at 58 Pine St., David’s at 22 Monument Square and Ribollita at 41 Middle St., – will offer their regular menus, plus additional New Year’s Eve specials.

In Yarmouth, the Sea Grass Bistro at 305 Route 1 will serve four courses on New Year’s Eve for $65 per person.

Henry and Marty at 61 Maine St., Brunswick, will offer a New Year’s Eve dinner, and is serving dinner New Year’s Day.

Sea Glass at the Inn by the Sea, 40 Bowery Beach Road in Cape Elizabeth, will offer four courses for $75 per person on New Year’s Eve.

Also in Cape Elizabeth, the Good Table is taking reservations for a special New Year’s Eve menu. Customers can choose from a selection of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Owner Lisa Kostopoulos said there is no set price.

Starting Jan. 8, the Good Table will begin “Sunday Supper” from 4-8 p.m. Customers can enjoy a themed, three-course menu. Reservations will be required; the dinners will be offered through April.  “This is a different face of the Good Table,” Kostopolos said. “It is a winter offering and will be inspirational.”

In other restaurant news, Mr. Bagel Northgate, on Auburn Street in Portland’s North Deering neighborhood, has closed and will reopen as the third Bernie’s restaurant. Owner Adam Shapiro operates Bernie’s Foreside at 204 Route 1 in Falmouth and Bernie’s Place & Pizza Pub at West Falmouth Crossing on Route 100.

El Rayo, the taqueria at 101 York St. in Portland, is expect to open El Rayo Cantina next door in mid-January, with a more substantial Mexican food menu, tapas and a tequila bar.

A new restaurant, Sabor Latino, is under construction at 249 St. John St. in Portland. According to a Portland City Council liquor application, Sabor Latino will serve Mexican, Salvadorean, and Cuban food and offer dancing and music at night. 

In Brunswick, China Rose at 42 Bath Road has new owners. Previous owner Cuong Ly sold the business to Xue Hua Zhang and Xu Hand Zhang. The menu and prices will stay the same, but the buffet hours are expected to be extended and the new owners may add a hibachi grill and sushi station.

Frontier at 14 Maine St., Fort Andross, in Brunswick, has reopened and with a full-service restaurant. New hours are Tuesdays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Brunch is expected to be added in 2012.

Elevation Burger, a Virginia-based chain that serves organic, grass-fed, free-range beef, is slated to open its first Maine restaurant at 85 Western Ave. in South Portland.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.