For seven years Mitchell Kaldrovich commuted from Gorham to Cape Elizabeth, where he ran Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea. The ambitious chef, who opened the sustainable seafood restaurant for the swank resort, started to dream of his own place. “I was buying knives, tools, and filling my garage with boxes,” said Kaldrovich.
Finally a key corner space in this sleepy downtown became available and Kaldrovich and his wife Lisa, a Gorham native, pounced. “I have wanted to do this my whole life,” said Kaldrovich, an Argentine with a pan-European background who grew up grilling meats and learning handmade gnocchi from his Italian grandmother. He made good on that dream last weekend when MK Kitchen opened on School and South streets.
The stylish kitchen (don’t call it a bistro) in a former bank is all high ceilings, wood interior, copper tables, open kitchen and community pride. Lisa, who worked for years at Fore Street took “the best of Portland” into account for their concept. They knew what Gorham needed.
“Look around all it is all pizza, pizza, pizza,” said Kaldrovich, whose elegant, healthy offerings done “simply” not “over the top,” marry the flavors of Argentina, Italy and modern Maine.
“We don’t want people to drive to Portland,” which the confident Kaldrovich described as over-rated, “we want them to drive here.”
The new dining destination radiates promise. Kaldrovich is making everything, (down to the gelato, bread pudding and creme brûlée) by scratch.
Small plates such as tuna tartare cones topped with tobiko caviar ($15) and sea salt-cured foie gras with dried fruit compote and candied walnuts ($18) are sophisticated starters. “Something for everyone,” he said of his weekly changing menu.
The pasta and grain section features mushroom risotto with truffle roasted mushrooms, porcini butter served on baby arugula and aged parmesan. It’s a gluten free celebration. But don’t skip the gnocchi, which the chef learned to make every Sunday from his Italian grandmother under a grape tree. “We ate gnocchi like hotdogs,” he said.
Entrees like pan-seared flounder (“the best fish in the sea right now”) and grilled gaucho steak and frites are a reason to put Gorham (in land from Westbrook) in your GPS. No entree creeps above $28 on the opening menu. (Cheers!) And right now nary a mixologist has been hired. “We will wait to see what cocktails people like,” said Kaldrovich, “but I am the star,” he said with a twinkle. He wants to reverse the current trend of bar star first, chef second. “It’s backwards,” he said. Grab a seat at the bar to see him in action in the open kitchen.
“We want this to be a destination,” said Kaldrovich, who aims to serve the public, not tourists. “Don’t go to Portland; stay here for excellent service. We will treat you like the gods.”
MK Kitchen, 2 School St., Gorham, is open every day from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. See you there!