BELFAST, Maine — Since October, Erin French and a crew of hard-working kitchen and bar staff have been serving up elegant, simple food at The Lost Kitchen, her still-new restaurant on Main Street in downtown Belfast.
Well, it’s not that new. The restaurant is approaching a year in operation, and before that French and some friends served private supper club dinners in the building prior to completing renovations.
“I can’t believe it’s been a year,” said French, 31, a native of Freedom in northern Waldo County. “We managed to build so much buzz with the supper clubs that I think that helped us right out the gate when we opened.”
The Lost Kitchen culinary style is hard to pigeonhole. Classic French, Italian and English dishes are tweaked and played with, including a halibut nicoise instead of a tuna nicoise, made with halibut caught off Monhegan, or a delicate strawberry shortcake made with puff pastry and creme anglaise. A juicy pork chop is grilled and served with plums and creamy polenta; a water buffalo steak — sourced from a farm in Appleton — is a uniquely lean version of the beef you’ve come to expect. Some things, though, such as the raw bar, are served in the traditional way.
“We go shopping every day for new produce and meat and other ingredients. We try to keep it constantly changing,” said French, who is an entirely self-taught chef, thanks to years spent cooking at her family’s restaurant, at Trillum Catering in Belfast and Francine Bistro in Camden.
The Lost Kitchen arrived right in the middle of a Belfast food renaissance — between Chase’s Daily (the longtime standard-bearers of fine dining), the arrival of food trucks, and a bustling farmer’s market, Belfast is a pretty happening place to be.
“That’s why I love it here,” said French. “Everyone is really committed to growing and providing lots of local food for the community. It’s a pretty great town to live in for food.”
The Lost Kitchen opens at 5 p.m. Tuesday -Saturday, at 108 Main St. in downtown Belfast. For reservations call 930-2055.