The Penobscot Times

Kanu welcomes family and friends for tasting event before grand opening

OLD TOWN, Maine — Kanu, the long-awaited restaurant and music venue in downtown Old Town, took a major step forward in its development this weekend.

The restaurant invited family and friends for a menu tasting before its grand opening next month. Diners were offered a set menu with four courses starting off with a bibb salad topped with a boiled egg and sliced cucumbers and mushrooms, along with an autumn arugula salad.

The first course also brought two soup options — a smoked pepper bisque and a stout beef and barley broth topped with a baked puff pastry. The second and third courses offered sternside chicken tenders, a prime rib with a side of rice and a firewood chicken pappardelle dish.

Finally, diners were served a blueberry cake with ice cream and a strawberry milkshake topped with a chocolate strawberry, chocolate-covered pretzel and a mini doughnut for dessert. Ahead of the meal, staff asked patrons to fill out an online survey of their reactions to the cuisine to gauge what dishes diners liked best.

Throughout the meal, diners could order upscale cocktails at the first-floor bar. Some drinks also had small blocks of ice stamped with the name Kanu on the face.

The restaurant has been a long time coming. Headed by Alex Gray of Waterfront Concerts, Kanu is a namesake to his family’s legacy with Old Town Canoe.

It’s also the first significant change for downtown since the massive 2019 fire that wiped out three buildings across the street. Gray, an Old Town native, hopes the restaurant can inspire other businesses to invest in the area.

“This’ll start to change a trend in Old Town,” he said previously.

Despite setbacks from the coronavirus pandemic, staff at Waterfront Concerts have made steady progress on the venue throughout the last year. While shutdowns and gathering restrictions have pushed out the timeline for opening, it’s also afforded the team extra time to perfect every detail.

The restaurant is expected to launch a grand opening the first week of December.

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