Is this how Tavern on the Green started?
In a Victorian-era castle on the edge of Deering Oaks Park something tasty this way comes. Tiqa Cafe and Bakery, an offshoot of the upscale Old Port Mediterranean hotspot Tiqa, opens in a tiny, historic relic next week.
“It’s probably the smallest restaurant in Portland,” said Tiqa owner Deen Haleem, who received city approval to turn the mini castle, built in 1890 as a warming hut for skaters, into a cafe last April.
Since then, he’s wasted no time. Inside the timepiece, intricate woodwork, granite, brick and stained glass emanate an ageless aura. “You’ve got so much beauty going on. And it’s very naturally done,” said Haleem, who runs the new concept with his wife, Portland native Carol Mitchell.
Though located 0.7 miles from the flagship, Tiqa Cafe and Bakery is its own entity. A new granite bar anchors the space. Here up to nine people can soon quaff wine and sip beer while noshing on his savory, fresh fare. In the corner, an alcove ensconced in stained glass screams romantic, mid-day repast.
This more relaxed Tiqa “is very, very different from what we are doing in the Old Port. More casual and focused on the outdoors. You can sit on the patio, have a glass of wine, get a salad,” said Haleem, whose 30-seat alfresco option is being built this week.
The bakery will sell up to eight kinds of bread, from sourdough to whole wheat. Pop in with your Frisbee and flip flops, down a latte and grab a loaf. A laid-back version of Tiqa’s uptown menu includes breakfast sandwiches, salads, humus plates, chicken wings, all made by the same chefs on Commercial Street.
In the summer, a bocce court, horse shoes and corn hole will rule the lawn. “It’s a cafe and bakery with great entertainment,” said Haleem, who is creating a new recreation zone.
Tiqa Cafe and Bakery will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week, year-round.
“We thought the building and location was beautiful and we wanted to help rejuvenate the park,” he said. “It’s just a great location.”