Hugo’s in Portland, ME, goes high-tech and casual
In the May issue of Food & Wine, Rob Evans, an F&W Best New Chef 2004, shared highlights from his honeymoon—a 25-state motorcycle trip (he rides a 2000 Triumph Tiger, and his wife, a BMW GS650).
Over the course of a month, Evans and his wife covered 7,000 miles of national parks, eating in small towns throughout the West and Midwest. Experiences at places like the North Fork Brewery, a brewery, beer shrine, pizzeria and wedding chapel on Mt. Baker Highway in Deming, Washington, and Binkley’s, a fine-dining restaurant with a shockingly good tasting menu in Cave Creek, Arizona (“I would fly from Maine just to eat there!” says Evans), inspired him to reinvent Hugo’s, his fine-dining restaurant in Portland, Maine, to reflect the direction he feels American dining is headed. “The trip didn’t influence my food, but it did influence my perception of the dining experience,” says Evans.
The new Hugo’s opens its doors tomorrow. Evans tossed the table linens in an effort to lose the “poshness” and create a more comfortable atmosphere. He’s also added a snack menu to the prix fixe format that was previously offered.
Evans is particularly excited about the new bar area. A silent, flat viewing screen hangs behind the bar will be put up at the end of the year, allowing customers to watch as chefs prepare their food in the kitchen. “We’re combining the two hottest concepts, the feel of an open kitchen and the visual pleasure of watching food being created, without the negative aspect of a loud dining room. It’s the open kitchen of the new millennium,” says Evans.