Maine Sunday Telegram: A Menu for 2021

Article by Meredith Goad, Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram

What will 2021 hold for the restaurant industry? Meredith Goad takes a look a predictions from the experts and talks to Maine restaurateurs, food purveyors, brewers, and food authorities to see what the Ne Year has in store for us in Maine.

As the new year gets underway, experts are, as usual, prognosticating about food trends. This year, many – but not all – of those predictions are linked to the pandemic. Their crystal ball visions cover everything from individual ingredients to food preparations and how restaurants will operate.

Add to these, changes in restaurants: Menus will be smaller, some predictions say. Safety precautions will remain, as will the availability of takeout and delivery. Ghost kitchens will proliferate, while buffets will become a phantom of the past. Some say indoor dining will be simpler, with lots of comfort food, while others say it will be reserved for memorable experiences such as celebrations and multi-course tasting menus.

We asked a few Maine chefs and others in the local food scene to offer their own predictions. Here’s what they had to say:

SHANNA AND BRIAN O’HEA –  Chefs/owners, The Kennebunk Inn & Academe

In December, online orders from Academe, the restaurant inside the Kennebunk Inn, were up a whopping 240 percent over 2019. It’s not hard to guess what inn owners Shanna and Brian O’Hea think will be popular in 2021.

Brian & Shanna O’Hea

“The major trend we see is restaurant-quality food getting shipped to your doorstep,” Shanna O’Hea said.

Ever since the couple’s lobster pot pie topped with puff pastry caught Oprah’s eye, the couple has been shipping their lobster specialties through Goldbelly, an online marketplace for regional and artisanal foods. Now, in addition to the lobster pot pie, they ship lobster white truffle pizza, lobster rolls, and lobster lo mein all over the country.

“We cannot believe how many more restaurants and chefs are on this (Goldbelly) site,” said O’Hea, who noted that she and her husband recently used the site to order falafel and lamb kebab kits from Miznon, a restaurant they once happily visited in Paris at the recommendation of chef friends. There is now a Miznon in New York, and it is on Goldbelly. The website “just continues to grow with iconic restaurants,” she said.

This trend extends to our own backyard. Portland’s many quality restaurants have been embracing takeout and delivery more than ever, and Mainers – lucky us – can even get fresh seafood delivered to our doors. But it’s a bittersweet trend, since it signals how much restaurants are struggling to survive in a world with little or no indoor dining.

“Because everyone in our industry has had to change,” O’Hea said, “it is really interesting to see the creativity.”

  Read the full article on the newspaper's website...

About The Kennebunk Inn

The Kennebunk Inn and its restaurant, The Tavern are located in the heart of downtown Kennebunk Village. The Inn has been welcoming travelers for more than two centuries.