A restaurant soft opening tomorrow in Portland, ME is taking local cuisine to a serious extreme. Inspired by stints working at hyperlocal Nordic restaurants like Magnus Nilsson's restaurant Fäviken and René Redzepi's Noma in Copenhagen, chef David Levi is bringing that same micro-focused sensibility to Vinland. And the dishes sure look pretty.
According to Bangor Daily News, Levi is taking his mission of cooking locally so literally that he will not be using olive oil, lemons, black pepper, or even sugar in his cooking. While Levi admittedly calls the limitation of using ingredients only native to New England "a challenge," he also says that the restrictions will "forc[e] us to innovate."
While no menu has been posted yet, Vinland's website is complete with an 19-point manifesto outlining how Vinland will "forge a uniquely Maine cuisine" to become "first restaurant in the United States to serve 100% local, organic food." In the mission statement, Levi addresses food economics ("Real food should not be a niche product for the rich but a right for all."), angry chef stereotypes ("It's time for chefs to grow up. Abusiveness and tantrums are not marks of genius but symptoms of immaturity and sociopathy."), and touches on the complicated idea of Western cuisine's relationship to indigenous culinary culture ("We are seeking to begin again, not as occupiers this time, but as participants."). Levi promises that the menu — except for local beers — will be gluten-free. The website also features a suggested reading list including pieces from Blue Hill chef Dan Barber, fermentation expert Sandor Katz, and Henry David Thoreau.
Eater Maine has a sneak peek inside the restaurant, the interior of which features gold ceilings, local birch wood wall accents, and custom-crafted wood tables. While they are doing limited-menu dinners during their soft opening, the restaurant plans to open fully to the public on January 1 serving both a tasting menu and an a la carte menu. The video below comes from the restaurant's successful Kickstarter campaign, where they raised $45,023 and surpassed their $40,000 goal. Have a look to hear Levi talk about his inspirations and goals for the restaurant:
Video: Vinland: Forging a Maine Cuisine With 100% Local Ingredients
· Portland restaurant uses only local ingredients [BDN]
· A Sneak Peek at Vinland, Opening Officially on Jan. 1 [Eater Maine]
· Vinland: Forging a Maine Cuisine With 100% Local Ingredients [Kickstarter]
· All Maine Coverage on Eater [-E-]