NORTH YARMOUTH — Krista Desjarlais will know Aug. 15 whether she has one of the top 10 new restaurants in America, as determined by Bon Appetit magazine.
But regardless of the decision, she said she’s thrilled The Purple House is in the pool of 50 nominees the publication named last week.
“The top 50, to be on that list, it’s just great for business,” Desjarlais said in an interview at the 378 Walnut Hill Road restaurant, which sits at the intersection of Route 9 and Route 115. “It’s still like, ‘Wow, OK, we’re in with an amazing group of restaurants.”
Looking around at her 544-square-foot establishment, she noted, “and to be this – this little, teeny-tiny place, is really, really special.”
The nomination came as a complete surprise to the New Gloucester resident, who has been a pastry chef in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Manhattan, and a regular chef in Las Vegas. She operated Bresca, a primarily French and Italian restaurant on Middle Street in Portland, from 2006-2013.
Bon Appetit writers Julia Kramer and Andrew Knowlton travel the country, eating in a variety of places in search of the newest slate of top restaurants, according to Desjarlais.
“We didn’t even know that they’d been in,” she said. But their enthusiasm for The Purple House was evident.
Visit this “charming cottage in rural Maine” with its wood-burning oven, “for homey breakfast and lunch in a tiny little house with a single wooden table inside,” the writers said. “Everything here centers around the blazing hearth, where chef-owner Krista Kern Desjarlais fires up crackly Montreal-style bagels in the morning and rustic sandwiches and pizzas in the afternoon.”
Bon Appetit recommends The Purple House’s za’atar-dusted Montreal-style bagel, which comes with homemade horseradish-dill cream cheese and gravlax. It also touts the Smoked Salmon Plus bagel sandwich, mentions the Roman-style pizza, and cautions patrons not to miss the “crisp-edged hazelnut-buckwheat financiers dotted with juicy gooseberries” for dessert.
The Purple House is on an annual hiatus until the first week of October, allowing Desjarlais to devote time to Bresca & the Honey Bee, a wood-fired grill she operates seven days a week at Outlet Beach in New Gloucester; it offers 20 flavors of natural, organic ice cream and operates from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
“It’s a highly physical job to do a wood oven,” Desjarlais said. “For myself, even to have a natural up time and down time is good for the physicality of it. … It gives time to recharge.”
She said The Purple House building – a cottage that became a video store run by the late Linda Polkey – often caught her attention as she drove back and forth between New Gloucester and Portland. She purchased it in August 2015, and after renovations including new purple paint, installing the wood-fired oven and outdoor aesthetic improvements, opened the restaurant in December 2016.
“I just wanted this to be a very special place,” Desjarlais said. “For me to work here, and create things for people … who come visit us. So it’s really special to hear that it’s being well-received.”
Krista Desjarlais’ North Yarmouth bakery, The Purple House, has been selected by Bon Appetit magazine as one of the year’s 50 best new restaurants in America.