There is Vietnamese pho, kale salad, pork belly Cubanos, and Food Network star Shannon Bard behind the glassed-in kitchen. It’s 2 p.m. on a rainy Friday in Kennebunk and locals are flocking to the just-opened Salud, a bistro and cooking school on Port Road.
“Wait a minute, you do French fries?” asks astonished customer Michael Farrell, a Kennebunkport resident who popped in for soup to find the owner of Portland’s Zapoteca behind the line. “This is like having access to restaurant food all day.”
While Bard’s Spanish tapas restaurant Toroso opened to vacationing crowds on Port Road in Kennebunk’s Lower Village this summer, down below in a former cafe and bookstore, her culinary playground was simmering.
“I always say, cook what you love,” said Bard, standing before a trove of cinnamon buns, turnovers and yeasted doughnuts (chocolate marshmallow and raspberry filled are the first to sell out), which she bakes daily in her week-old cafe. “This is me playing.”
Open for three meals a day, Salud caters to locals and harried families with an active takeout service. Diners weaned on trendy cuisine will love it. When you’re stuck in York County but would rather be at Eventide Oyster Co., Bard’s lobster roll with miso butter poached lobster, sake reduction, pickled celery and cilantro served on a steamed bun with kimchi spiced potato chips should do the trick.
Salud is also a cooking school. Starting in October Bard teaches hands-on classes such as “a taste of Spain” (she perfected her skills in the Basque region of Spain), roasting turkey for the holidays, creating stunning sides, and even how to pull off the Feast of Seven Fishes (taught by a Boston North End chef) on Dec. 15.
Some classes are taught by Bard, some by visiting chefs and a few from neighbors. Her “Kennebunk Cook” series showcases local home chefs and their favorite recipes.
“I’m excited about it,” said Bard, running back to the kitchen to perfect her pho recipe, which, like her Mexican cuisine, is long on flavor. “I don’t claim to be authentic,” said Bard, who will soon offer a meal kit service featuring her bold recipes.
“This town needs this,” said Farrell. “A lot of food here is fried seafood. This is new and cool.”
Salud Bistro and Cooking School, 149 Port Road, Kennebunk.