Chefs Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell are injecting new life into an old diner car in Downtown Biddeford. Where greasy fries were once slung, grass-fed burgers and corned beef hash made with short ribs and brisket will transform the Palace Diner into a gourmet go-to March 12.
The Urban Eye stopped in Tuesday to find the 20-something chefs fast at work on menu creation. Conley, who left Gather in Yarmouth last month to throw his energy behind Palace, was making BLT’s and tuna melts.
We were not offered a taste, but could see his superior stack, made with Big Sky Bread, was not your mill worker’s feedbag staple.
For his part Mitchell, who worked on Maine farms over the past few years learning organic agriculture from heavyweights like Eliot Coleman, has big city chops, including cooking stints at Gramercy Tavern in NYC. Their youthful energy will go a long way to glam up Biddeford’s dining scene, dominated by a few ethnic finds and the vegetarian hit Dahlia’s Delights.
“It’s exciting to be a part of something changing and growing, as opposed to a place where we might go unnoticed,” said Mitchell.
No one said the P word, Conley is a Portland native after all, but they didn’t have to. In Portland, 30 restaurants will open this year, at last count. What’s one new 15-seater run by a dynamic duo? In Biddeford these two will be gourmet gods, not business as usual.
So what else can we expect from Palace Diner 2.0? Gourmet dinners Friday and Saturday and (liquor license pending) cocktails on the formica by summer. “There’s signs of potential here,” said Conley, “or we wouldn’t have signed the lease.”