CAMDEN — The Knox Mill has come to life once more with Ebantide, a new restaurant that officially opens next weekend. More than just a play on words (named after co-owner Joseph Goudreau’s three-month-old grandson Eban) the name Eban also represents a West African symbol for family, love and security.
Chef and co-owner Ean Woodward comes to this enterprise with a humble appreciation for food.
“I don’t want people thinking this is a high-priced bistro,” he said. “’Our tag line is ‘Where you want to be a regular.’”
Woodward grew up with his grandmother in Ireland. After culinary school in London, he did his first two years of training in Paris before moving to the U.S. After several years cooking in North Carolina and Philadelphia, Woodward decided to move to Maine where he often visited his grandparents summers in Winter Harbor.
“In Ireland, I lived with my grandmother and a French housekeeper who were my favorite two people in the world,” he said. “So I spent every day with them in the kitchen watching them cook and grew up with a passion for it. We’re doing a lot hearty delicious dishes like duck confit, pappardelle, lamb bolognose. We’re taking a lot of traditional dishes from Maine and across Europe-dishes our grandparents cooked and that the working class people would have enjoyed throughout time. Then, I’ll add a little French twist to that.”
The Shepherd’s Pie on the menu comes from his great grandmother’s recipe Woodward discovered in the family Bible.
“A lot of younger people are foodies these days, but their parents or grandparents want food they remember from their childhood, so we’re incorporating both on the menu,” he said.
Renovations have been slowly unfolding in the last several months, unearthing many of the Mill’s old “bones.”
The closed-off area (where the Sea Dog bar used to be) has been opened up to become a lounge area next to a stone fireplace. The ranch windows over the bar, covered over for many years, now let in light, along with oversized bare vintage bulbs over the bar.
The open kitchen has a reconfigured “pass” and the best seat in the house — the window to the waterfalls — is now a long chef’s table for eight. Woodward will periodically offer beer pairing dinners and other chef dinners with a prix fixe menu and additional surprises as he interacts all evening with the guests.
The bar is modeled after a restaurant bar, staying open til 10 or 11 p.m. with no live music, but instead, offering a selection of predominantly Maine beers, rotating taps, select wines and an emphasis on good bourbon.
“We want the food and the atmosphere to be approachable and the beers and wines to complement the dishes,” Woodward said. “Everyone who works in this kitchen has been a chef somewhere else and we all work together very well.”
The restaurant will launch with a soft opening for family, friends and invited guests Thursday evening, then open to the public on Wednesday, Dec. 28. They will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays for dinner.
Knox Mill owner Joseph Goudreau received several licenses Tuesday evening, Dec. 20, at a regularly scheduled Select Board meeting for Ebantide. There, the board members unanimously approved granting a victualer’s, vinous and restaurant license to the business.
When select board members asked him about live music, Goudreau said there would be no entertainment, other than, “my brother will bring down his big grand piano and play.”
The board also asked Goudreau how the Knox Mill residential project was proceeding, in general.
He responded that 14 to 15 units are occupied. Goudreau converted the Knox Mill into 32 apartments over the past year.
“The town will appreciate changing the restaurant from what it was to what it could be,” he told the select board.
For more information on Ebantide visit its Facebook page.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org