PORTLAND, Maine — Preble Street in Portland is perking up.
Next to a new arcade and across from gourmet pizzeria Slab, an artisanal diner serving breakfast sandwiches on homemade biscuits with house-cultured butter, maple sausage and local preserves joins the party.
Dutch’s is a scratch breakfast and lunch counter opening Nov. 11 at 28 Preble St., a location that was formerly Down Home Cookin.
“The food scene in Portland is incredible,” said Ian Dutch, a Belfast native who returns to Maine to open his first restaurant with his wife, Lucy. “I really wanted to get home.”
Studying Portland for the right concept and location, the couple, who have cooked in restaurants from San Francisco to Boston and were most recently personal chefs for a family in Nantucket, soon discovered that something was missing here. Amid the myriad night time nosh options, a place to get an honest breakfast or lunch for a decent price was tough to find in Portland.
“Everyone is doing dinner,” said Ian.
“Most breakfast and lunch places are traditional sit down or sub shops,” added Lucy.
Carving a niche that is not fully served, the couple plan to make almost everything, like the big and beefy, a red wine-braised beef, mashed potato, crispy onion string sandwich on Dutch crunch, a special homemade bread, one of four Lucy will bake daily.
Ian, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and Lucy, a baker and New Hampshire native, call their fare “classics with a twist.”
Together the 30-year-olds have two decades of culinary experience and kitchen star credentials. Ian has worked for top chefs like Todd English and the couple helped open Market for global chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the W Hotel in Boston.
They bought the business in May and have been renovating and updating the giant kitchen. From pastries to cheesy grits to warm peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches, this is comfort food for contemporary palates in a spacious spot.
A tuna melt is no slapdash affair. Here, mornay sauce is spread on top and baked in. Sausages are made in house, as are croissants, brioches and biscuits — everything but the bagels. Sides like roasted root vegetables and quinoa tabbouleh salad are vegan and gluten-free. There is a “strong focus on healthy,” said Lucy. “Come and get a quick homemade lunch for a good value.”
Amid Portland’s white-hot food scene, the Dutch’s experience will speak through their food.
“We are just going to do our own thing and have some fun,” they said. “We just do us.”