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August 15, 2018

Drifters Wife: From small wine shop to Bon Appetit's 2018 'Hot 10' List

Photo / Peter Van Allen
Photo / Peter Van Allen
Drifters Wife restaurant, located at 59 Washington Ave. in Portland, is ranked No. 9 on Bon Appétit's “Hot 10” list as one of the best new restaurants in the United States. The 2018 list was announced by the foodie magazine on Tuesday.

In just four years since moving from Brooklyn to open Maine & Loire, a small natural wine shop in Portland, Orenda and Peter Hale have made it to Bon Appétit's "Hot 10" list as one of the best new restaurants in the United States. Their Drifters Wife restaurant, located at 59 Washington Ave. in Portland, is ranked No. 9 on this year's list.

The annual list was announced by the magazine on Tuesday, with feature stories on the top restaurants appearing in Bon Appétit's September issue and online. Drifters Wife was one of two Portland restaurants included in the 50 nominees announced earlier this month as being in the running for this year's "Hot 10" list. Rose Foods, a New York-style delicatessen located at 428 Forest Ave. launched last year by Chad Conley, who co-owns the Palace Diner in Biddeford, was the other restaurant.

In its September issue, Bon Appétit also names Portland its "City of the Year."

"The 10 restaurants on this list encapsulate what makes going out to eat right now so exciting," Julia Kramer, Bon Appétit's deputy editor, said in a news release announcing this year's list.

"There's no one formula that lands a place on the Hot 10. From an off-the-beaten-path tasting menu in Oklahoma City to a refugee-run Cambodian noodle shop in Oakland, these are deeply personal restaurants that couldn't exist anywhere but where they are."

In the feature story reported by Molly Baz and Elyse Inamine, Bon Appétit describes how the Hales' original concept of "running a little bottle shop" in Portland evolved into their February 2018 opening of the 60-seat Drifters Wife restaurant with the Maine & Loire natural wine shop located in the back. They did it, the magazine states, "glass by glass and dish by dish."

"There's no better place on the planet to drink natural wine than right here," the article states.

The article features lip-smacking photos of some signature dishes prepared by Drifters Wife chef Ben Jackson, a former sous chef at Reynard's restaurant in Brooklyn, who with his wife, Alexis, was persuaded by the Hales to join them in Portland in January 2016. Among the dishes featured: Herb-rubbed cast iron chicken with pan sauce; eggplant with cashew butter and pickled pepper; and Napa cabbage salad with Parmesan and pistachios.

As one of this year's Hot 10, Drifters Wife will be joining this year's other winners for one night only to serve bites and drinks at Bon Appétit's Hot 10 party on Oct. 17 in Brooklyn, N.Y.

This year's winning new restaurant is Nonesuch, from Oklahoma City.

Event partners for that occasion include A to Z Wineworks, All-Clad, Bombay Sapphire, Mutti Tomatoes, Président Cheese, S. Pellegrino and Talenti. General admission tickets for the Hot 10 Party are on sale now through Aug. 20 at $99 ($149 thereafter) at bahot10.com.

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