The East Ender

I met the owners of this restaurant when I was cooking beside them at the “20 Mile Meal.” I had it in my head that somehow participating in this event would be great for my then baking business but I joined the event at the very last-minute and was completely over my head. The saving grace that day was my ability to sort of smile my way through anything. I mean, my savory food is basic, tasty, but basic, and when they told me I couldn’t do pastry, I almost died. My real “shit my pants” moment however, was when this pair showed up because their little pulled pork slider just about blew my pants off. I’m a staunch, my food can’t touch advocate. I’ve been getting better at this by the way, years of therapy (just kidding) have helped me off the ledge and into the it’s alright if my corn touches my mashed potatoes realm. But, when Mitch put one of his pulled pork sliders in front of me, with all these different components (touching), I shoved the whole thing in my mouth without question. I fell in love at that very moment. Deep, miraculous love. A month later, when I finished Harvest on the Harbor, I begged my husband to take me to the East Ender because I had been dreaming of this little pork nugget, ever since. And, this was all before I discovered what Mitch and Meg are all about. Little did I know, there was so much more to fall in love with.

First and foremost, you all know how I feel about being connected with ingredients. Farm to table is it for me. I don’t need all the fancy stuff. Just give me some good meat, prepared well with some amazing veggies. Mitch, whom I consider myself ridiculously lucky to be friends with on Facebook (because I sneak a peek at all his *amazing* food), is not afraid to get his hands dirty. He might be one of the most, if not the most, hands on chef in Portland. From what I can gather he believes in working with farmers, butchering animals from the very beginning (still alive) to the very end and uses every part of that animal when possible. I’ve seen pictures of his cured meats that make me want to drop everything I am doing and run to stick my tongue on the stuff he has hanging in his restaurant (although obviously I would never, well, maybe never). And although Mitch gets down and dirty killing animals and cooking everything from scratch, you would never really know it because his plates of food are so dramatic and beautiful. It’s like: milk man during the day and wall street man at night. His two personalities meld well. There is an authenticity to his food that is really lovely.

On New Year’s Eve I went there for dinner and Meg was at the door with a big smile as usual. There is something so comforting about the way she greats people at the door. Warm. Hospitable. Genuine. The menu was out of my comfort zone. There were lots of ingredients I was unfamiliar with but I felt at ease there. My anxiety flag didn’t flare up. As each dish came to my table, I tasted with open arms. And I truly enjoyed the experience. Not only was the food fantastic but the atmosphere is wonderful too. It’s low-key. A nice fire-place in the lounge downstairs or a fantastic bar with additional seating upstairs. You pick. They are both great environments to enjoy food.

This is an adventurous restaurant but it’s a relatable restaurant. Everything is comforting either in aesthetic or on the menu. But don’t discount the skills and craftsmanship it takes to get what comes on your plate.

I advise you all go and have a meal here. Or even just a couple of cocktails (menu has flare bitches) with some small bites. I would say, great first date restaurant or a place for someone you want to romance in a casual way.

*P.S. I borrowed the photo above from facebook, hopefully Mitch doesn’t mind. 🙂

East Ender

47 Middle Street

Portland, ME


My favorites:

*Broccoli Fritters
Creamy cheddar, pimento mayo
*Hanger Steak
Bacon bourbon butter, sea salt and vinegar fries, seared rainbow chard
*Pulled Pork Shoulder
Cayenne sauce

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