Joshua's, a Restaurant and Bar in Southern Maine

Some of our stories
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Joshua’s is, to a large extent, the culmination of our 35 year history in Maine. Joshua was born and raised here on vegetables and protein raised on the same soil from which much of the food served at Joshua’s comes. Over the years we have collected quite a family of friends. One of the things that has made bringing this dream to reality more fun than labor is working with our friends.

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Josh, Eben and Jeff

Josh ladeling the soup course
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October 25, 2006

We took a brief break, Sunday through Thursday, last week after a very busy summer. The focus of the break was Josh and Eben cooking at the James Beard House in New York on Tuesday. We drove down Monday with Josh worrying about the maple ice cream the whole way. We had to get to the James Beard House before 5 to put the ice cream and other goodies he had prepared for the event in the freezer and refrigerator.

It was a cooperative event with John Shaw, The Port Tavern and Grille at the Kennebunkport Inn and Jeffrey Savage, The Tides Inn by the Sea. Josh and Eben enjoyed the event and the honor of being asked. Barbara and I, Eben’s wife, Beth and Christina, our bar manager, had the pleasure of a wonderful dinner and hearing that sophisticated crowd compliment the food. The event was sold out.

Barbara wrote a cooking column for the Maine Organic Farmer and Gardener for a couple of years. This is her column for the January/February 1981 issue.

 

Spoons and Spiders

By

Barbara Mather

            Josh and Caitlin, aged six and four love to work in the kitchen. They have their share of play dishes, pans, utensils and such, but for the most part, the dishes, etc. have ended up as bath time dippers, swishers and splashers. No miniature rolling pin or egg beater seems to be as satisfying as the real thing that is used to prepare real food for family and friends. It takes a lot of patience (which Mort and I don’t always have) to let the children work with us or to let them do it all by themselves. When they want to help, my first thought is always that I can do it much more quickly, efficiently, and neatly by myself. My second thought is that if I don’t let them help and teach them now when they’re brimming with enthusiasm, I’ll be constantly annoyed by a couple of lazy lugs for teenagers with big appetites and no wherewithal for preparing decent food for themselves and others. So with long-term dividends in mind, I grin with their delight in having fixed their own lunch, and I bear the loaf of bread that has been sliced on a 60 degree angle, the little shavings of cheese all over the floor, and the bits of peanut butter floating around in the honey pot.

            Helping to make bread, particularly to knead, is a favorite job. When Cait was too little to push around the big blob of dough, I’d give her a small piece of her own to knead, roll out, cut up, and usually tote around in her hot little hand for the rest of the day (hopefully, we would remember to take it away before she got into bed at night). Breaking eggs is another satisfying task. If worried about too much shell ending up in the cookies, one can fish the bits of shell out of a cup into which the eggs have been broken before going into the big bowl. It’s amazing how quickly an adept egg-cracker emerges.

            Making salads is a good way to start a child’s involvement in preparing a family meal as they can do the whole thing solo, there is no need to worry about a hot stove, and he/she can be quite creative without disastrous results. We’ve had some very tasty and some rather unusual salads prepared by Josh’s hand. If I had made a salad of carrot peels, parsley sprigs, and unchopped chives, it surely would have been rejected; but Josh, the creator of such, ate it with gusto.

            “Something blended” is often what Josh requests for dessert. I suggest some possibilities like banana, yogurt, milk, carob, berries in season, peanut butter, etc., then let him devise his own concoction in the blender. Flipping pancakes, breaking eggs into the frying pan, making toast are all simple tasks and good ways of gradually allowing a child to become accustomed to actual cooking. Chopping vegetables and grating cheese for pizza is a fun way for him/her to begin learning about the use of sharp tools in the kitchen.

            Through all of Josh and Caitlin’s culinary endeavors I’ve learned to think positively, and mostly, to speak positively to them. When Josh was a toddler Helen Brigham once suggested to me that a child gains a lot more confidence and concentrates on a task more intently thereby avoiding accidents when one says, for example, “Carry the glass of water very carefully” rather than, “Don’t spill the water.”. When we feel our kids are old enough to handle a particular job, we assume that with our guidance they are capable of using the tools for that job safely and carefully. “Work slowly with that knife; keep you fingers out of the cutting line,” gives them instruction and something to concentrate on. “Don’t cut yourself,” does not.

            There are still many days when having much to accomplish and my mind on too many things, I give an arbitrary “no” when asked, “Can I help?”. However, Josh is at the point where his assistance in the kitchen is truly a help so, I usually try to take a deep breath, re-examine my priorities, set aside my strong Virgoan sense of order and say, “Sure, go wash your hands”—in the hopes that they’ll be baking half the family’s bread needs when they’re ravenous teenagers or at least, capable of avoiding starvation when they’re on their own.

June 14, 2005

We survived the winter with many thanks to our loyal fans. Last night was our busiest Monday since we opened, and it wasn't a holiday weekend!  We are now full on Saturday nights pretty much from 6:30 until 9. So if Saturday is the only night you can come, reserve early.
We feel very fortunate to enter this season with our experienced staff most of whom have been with us since we opened -- Christina and Jocelyn behind the bar, Marshall, Andrea, Sarah, and Jen  serving tables and In the kitchen Josh is ably assisted by Eben (Eben is a proud first-time father.)
Jonathan joined us a couple of months ago but he and Josh have worked together before.

March 17,2005

We are now accepting reservations. I’m expecting to hear a lot of “I-told-you-so’s .”  Yep, you were right. The decision took hold strongly one Saturday night in February when many parties of 4 arrived within half an hour of each other right around 7pm. Three of the parties waited about an hour and a half for tables. If this is happening in the dead of winter, what will spring and summer be like? Our food is worth waiting for but within limits. We are not taking reservations for all the tables in an effort to accomodate both those who like reservations and those who come on the spur of the moment.

February 3, 2005. 7 months since we opened. We wondered how the winter would be. There have been some slow nights but we are doing much better than we expected. We love our hardy customers who come out in sub-zero weather and snow storms. 27 hardy souls dined with us in the blizzard with the snow coming down at 2 inches a minute.

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Family reunion, Joshua's sister, Caitlin, sees the restaurant for the first time.

August 10 our daughter, Caitlin, and her husband David Kirk, drive up from southern Georgia where they live and see the restaurant for the first time. I guess we aren’t working too hard as we were able to have a nice visit during the week they were here. We had dinner Tuesday night at the restaurant. Josh joined us for a little while. I cooked our traditional family breakfast Sunday morning, a relaxed meal at the farm.

 

 

We are now in our sixth week. Thursday night at 7 o’clock all the tables were taken and 3 parties of 4 arrived. We were able to seat them all within 20 minutes. Saturday was our busiest night so far. There was a lovely flow with only one party of four having a ten minute wait for a table.

The most common comment we are hearing at the door when people arrive is, “we have been hearing good things about you.”

Mort 8/15/04

 

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We have been open nearly two weeks and are very pleased with all that has happened so far. Opening quietly without telling anyone worked out well. It gave our experienced staff time to learn where thing were in their new surroundings and our staff-in-training a chance to do their job without too much pressure. Wisdom from one of our bus people that we would be busy in the beginning with friends but then it would drop off has not proven to be the case. Each day of the week this week was better than the previous week.

Certainly we have seen lots of friends. Many people are coming in saying they have been watching our progress as we developed the restaurant and wanted to see the final product. We have also seen quite a few people who knew Josh’s cooking for the years he worked at Five-0 in Ogunquit. Perhaps the most gratifying early customers are those who tell us they have heard the food is great.

People are saying very nice things. On entering they frequently tell us they like what we have done to the place, that it has a nice feel. On leaving they are usually talking about the food. Some of the phrases we are hearing:

“The mushroom appetizer is to die for!”

“The food was fabulous.”

“The [fill in the blank with just about anything on the menu] was the best I ever tasted.”

“Your wine list is excellent and the prices are so reasonable.”

I won’t go on because you’ll think I’m making it up. Suffice it to say we feel our work of the past six months (3 months planning and 3 months of construction and renovation) is being well rewarded.

Our thanks to all who have already found Joshua’s and we look forward to seeing the rest of you some evening when you are looking for a memorable dining experience.

Mort  7/22/04

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Tony and Judy King are our first customers.

 
 
 
Tony and Judy have been back several times bringing different friends with them. Their friends have come back bringing different friends with them and their friends friends have come back bringing... You get the idea. It feels like we started a chain letter, or maybe a chain menu.  8/15/04

We met Mary Wiggin, our realtor, one icy night when I was pregnant with Joshua. Her car slid into the ditch in front of our house. She used our phone to call her husband, James Wiggin, our contractor. While waiting for James to arrive she told us she had been wanting to meet us. We have been close friends ever since raising animals together and doing things cooperatively. We even shared ownership of a car for awhile.

Barbara

 

There will be more to come.

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