Page 15 - WCM 2023 Winter Flip
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 restaurant for a day, producing a unique multi-course menu, and even switch up the décor. They also created a series of “stick builds,” temporary open-air venues at fairs and festivals in which they could prepare fresh food on the spot, an important aspect of Le Mu’s evolving cuisine, blending Asian influences from Sav’s Laotian upbringing, and his passion for Southern comfort foods and fresh local ingredients. This itinerant approach served the couple well when they moved to Maine to be close to Elise’s family.
Upon arrival, Le Mu hit the ground running with intimate private dinners in their home, as well as stick builds at independent markets in the Lewiston- Auburn area. A bit of serendipity finally resulted in the couple buying a former taco trailer that lovingly became known as the “Little Blue Shanty.” After
a short stint in South Paris, the couple moved the Shanty north to Bethel, next to what was Steam Mill Brewing at the time. It was a perfect fit, allowing customers to take in their take out, and enjoy a beer or two which paired nicely with the often spicy food. The Shanty became immediately popular, dare I say too popular at times, when they would sell out long before closing time. The amount of succulent food that they pumped out of that little trailer was astounding.
While they had the food trailer process nearly down pat, they longed for a brick and mortar restaurant. With no opportunities in Bethel, Sav and Elise
hired a manager for the Shanty and started a brunch spot in Auburn which allowed Sav the flexibility to expand his culinary creativity beyond what Le Mu could accomplish in the trailer. Mu Noi (Little Pig) opened just as the pandemic arrived, but generated great reviews and a solid following, serving an eclectic brunch menu for take-out, and prepared meal kits to go. Luckily for us out here in the hills, they chalked Mu Noi up to experience. “Wrong place, wrong time!” Elise told me, and they recommitted to the Bethel community that was embracing them. In another bit of serendipity, Café Dicocoa, just around the corner from the Shanty, came up for sale. A deal was struck, and the former bakery was transformed into the now bustling eatery. They opened the doors with twenty or so seats on December 30, 2021, including an awesome bar overlooking the kitchen action. Spring brought outdoor dining, doubling their capacity, and it has been a wild success since, often with a line out the door.
Le Mu devotees from the Shanty days will recognize
a few of the greatest hits, including the Hot Noodz,
a spicy mélange of rice noodles, bean sprouts, carrot, daikon, onion, local veg, mushroom, egg, scallion, cilantro, and lime (choose from protein options), and Angry Rooster, Le Mu’s take on the fried chicken sandwich, with red curry buttermilk-brined chicken, house-made chili aioli, cabbage slaw, and pickles. There are also many new menu items, with ingredients often
House-made gnocchi, with massaman curry, caramelized onion butter, shaved cured yolk, pistachio, and pickled chili pairs nicely with a fresh cocktail of house infused bourbon, fermented citrus, and fresh berry seltzer.

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