The delay of Bao Bao Dumpling House on Spring Street has perplexed more than fans of Portland’s revolving food scene. Owner Cecile Stadler, touring her new building, formerly West End Deli, on Wednesday, was miffed that the process has taken so long.
“We were supposed to be open in May, it’s costing me $75,000 extra. I wanted to open for the summer tourist season and have been paying my staff ever since.”
Her contractor Rob Connolly said updating an 1823 building in the city’s historic district is no easy task. Incorporating a sprinkler system and water line through the back alley has been “a mess,” he said. “Out of all the municipalities I’ve worked with, Portland is the hardest,” he said.
Such tussles did not happen in Brunswick, said Stadler, where her restaurant Tao Yuan showcases her chef/daughter Cara’s refined and raved-over Asian cuisine.
When will Cara, a Food and Wine top torque, be serving dumplings in this exciting new space dominated by a copper dragon on the wall and sunken bar?
Time will tell.
The basement kitchen and bar was excavated during construction, lending this snug storefront an urban elan. Located on the same block as the shuttered Miyake Diner, one could get hungry waiting for gourmet grub at the corner of Spring and Park streets.
From the sounds of it, Bao Bao will be worth the wait.
Fans of Tao Yuan will find familiar “delicious food and beverages in a faster turn setting,” said Cecile, who ran an underground supper club in Beijing with her daughter years ago.
Bao Bao will boast “tried and true recipes from Tao, a subset of that menu,” said Stadler.
A mid-October opening is (fingers crossed) planned.