Chef Arturo Montes, who wound up in Maine by way of Chicago and Mexico’s Zacatecas state, has been pleasing Mainers’ taste buds for 20 years.
Montes, who started his culinary career as a saucier at a Hilton hotel in Chicago, cheffed at the former Marriott restaurant at the Bangor International Airport. For 15 years, he also ran Montes International Catering in Bangor.
Now the chef is creating classic dishes with a twist at The Lucerne Inn on Route 1 in Dedham. Through last summer, he had been executive chef at the Bluenose Inn’s Looking Glass restaurant in Bar Harbor, but wanted to be closer to his Hampden home.
“When I took over [at Lucerne Inn], it was a good menu, but I took it apart and twisted it in my way,” he said.
The Montes way is using fresh, seasonal ingredients, and frequent dinner specials.
Some of the Montes twists have included salmon with toasted pumpkin seeds and cranberries and roasted squash risotto. Traditional entrees range from grilled filet mignon to lobster tail served with drawn butter. For spring and summer, Montes is tweaking the seasonal menus again.
The Lucerne Inn serves dinner nightly and a Sunday brunch buffet, which features breakfast classics that change week to week. Every month, the restaurant holds a wine dinner, for which the chef creates a four-course pre-fixe menu accompanied with a wine pairing chosen by the inn’s sommelier. (“I don’t know much about wine, but I like to drink it,” says Montes.)
The chef often thinks up the night’s specials on the drive into work.
“I like to do a lot of specials, so I like to think about what I want,” he said. “I always try to bring something new, to keep myself busy.”