Local, affordable and fine dining to go

Belfast’s eatery Scallions takes take-out to a whole new level

Mon, 05/20/2013 - 8:30am

BELFAST — The concept is astoundingly simple, yet no one in the Midcoast has ever done it before. This past winter, a little take-out place called Scallions opened up in the Reny’s Plaza mall in Belfast, but lest anyone equate the idea of “to go” with fast food, this eatery is setting itself apart with its fine dining options.

Scallions describes itself as “restaurant quality prepared food to go.” For 14 years, Diana and Charles Evans husband owned The Rhumb Line, a fine dining restaurant in Searsport. Following that stint, they got three years of corporate catering under their belt before coming up with this concept.

“We have a lot of customers who were loyal to The Rhumb Line who were thrilled to know we’re carrying some of the restaurant’s signature dishes, such as the crab cakes and the horseradish encrusted salmon with a roasted red pepper mayo over brown rice and side vegetable,” she said.

Inside the bright and airy customer area, there are a few tables and a front counter framed by the large sign with the Scallions logo. The most visible part of the restaurant is the to-go coolers, which are stocked with pre-made “grab and go” entrees, lunches, sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts. Another cooler stocks beer and wine, for the convenience of one-stop shopping. “If you want the quality of a whole foods meal, but don’t feel like grocery shopping or spending another two hours after work in a restaurant, this is what it’s all about,” said Evans.

Their brand caters to local ingredients, smaller portions, and affordable ($10 or less) good, quality food in containers that can be popped into microwave or oven.

Scallions developed out of the couple’s need to see more take out options on Belfast.  

“When we didn’t feel like cooking ourselves, our only take-out options were really pizza and Chinese food. Sometimes when you want that, it’s great, but if you don’t, there’s not much else.”

They originally learned of this restaurant quality to-go concept when a friend mentioned visiting such a place in Connecticut. Knowing how well this concept would work in Midcoast, something clicked. “When it comes right down to it, it’s what we knew,” Evans said. “Now, it’s taken on a life of its own.”

What might not be evident at first glance is that the restaurant also has a full kitchen and grill in the back and does a full “to order” menu such as prime rib sandwiches, quesadillas and burgers as well as daily specials, including The Rhumb Line-favorite crab cake, alone or over salad.

Their menus and to-go items change seasonally. Moving into spring, Scallions is shifting their menu to using locally sourced lighter fare. “We’re really working with what’s coming through the door,” Evans said. “We just got our first order from Ararat Farms, which is great. They have salad greens, which is an understatement. They’re amazing. We just did fresh fennel and red pepper salad with a light sea salt extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.”

Another favorite: Roasted sweet potato on baby spinach with a maple-mustard vinaigrette.

“People seem to be crazed for that salad,” she said.

Come summer, they’ll offer more fresh fish that they get from Maine Shellfish and Wholesale Seafood. Off the grill, they’ll bring back another seasonal customer favorite: a pan-seared peppered swordfish sandwich with Vidalia onion picalilli.

They also plan to offer to-go lobster roll, something one can rarely get in Belfast without sitting down at a restaurant.

With their catering background, they have no problem taking a larger order for groups and doing an entire dinner for 8-12 people that the host can simple re-heat at home.

“You can say you made it,” Evans laughed.

The Belfast area has given them an amazing reception said Evans.

“One of the things I like about Belfast is this is a great professional environment to be in. Everybody has their own niche and nobody steps on each other’s toes. We have great wraps in Belfast with Bay Wraps, so we won’t even offer that. We’ve got great place for raw juice with the Juice Cellar, so we won’t do juice in here. We all just do our own thing.”

Some days when you’re feeling anti-social, blah, overtired or just can’t face the world, it’s good to know there’s a place that gets it and puts the “comfort” in comfort food.

For store hours, menus and specials follow them on Facebook.

Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com