Salem Restaurant Week Fall 2009

Posted: August 29th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Salem | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Salem Chamber of Commerce has announced the list of restaurants participating in their upcoming Restaurant Week. From Sunday, September 13th to Thursday, September 17th participating restaurants will offer a three-course prix-fixe dinner menu for $25 per person. (The price does not include drinks, taxes or tip.)

Salem is rapidly becoming well known throughout the north shore for it’s a vibrant and varied dining scene and this is a terrific opportunity to experience great food at bargain prices. It’s well worth taking advantage of Restaurant Week to try that place you’ve been meaning to, or to stray outside your comfort zone and explore new foods.

Here is the list (so far) of restaurants that are offering the special:

Capt’s Waterfront Grill & Club
94 Wharf Street, 978-741-0555
www.capts.com

Cilantro
282 Derby Street, 978-745-9436
www.cilantrocilantro.com

Finz Seafood Restaurant
76 Wharf Street, 978-744-0000
www.hipfinz.com

Grapevine Restaurant
26 Congress Street, 978-745-9335
www.grapevinesalem.com

The Lobster Shanty
25 Front Street, 978-745-5449
lobstershantysalem.com

Lyceum Bar & Grill (Pending Construction)
43 Church Street, 978-745-7665
www.lyceumsalem.com

Nathaniel’s at the Hawthorne Hotel
18 Washington Square West, 978-825-4311
www.hawthornehotel.com/dining/index.htm

Passage to India
157 Washington Street, 978-832-2200
www.passageindia.com

Regatta Pub at the Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites
225 Derby Street, 978-740-8788
www.salemwaterfronthotel.com/dining.html

Rockafellas
231 Essex Street, 978-745-2411
www.rockafellasofsalem.com

Sixty2 on Wharf
62 Wharf Street, 978-744-0062
www.62onwharf.com

Tavern at the Hawthorne Hotel
18 Washington Square West, 978-825-4342
www.hawthornehotel.com/dining/index.htm

Tavern in the Square
189 Washington Street, 978-740-2337
www.taverninthesquare.com/salemmain.html

Thai Place
Museum Place Mall, 978-741-8008
http://www.thaiplace.net/

Victoria Station
86 Wharf Street, 978-745-3400
www.victoriastationinc.com

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Spirited Happenings on Cape Ann

Posted: August 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Drinks, Gloucester, Ryan & Wood Distilleries | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

North Shore folks like us, who delight in seeking out local artisan products such as bread from A&J King and cheese from Valley View Farm, have a new selection to try: spirits from Ryan & Wood Distilleries. Better yet, you can see the hand-crafted process yourself at their Gloucester facility.

We had never given much thought to why there are so few small distilleries in the US (and none in this area). A few minutes after meeting co-founder Bob Ryan, who is clearly passionate about the subject, we understood perfectly.

Ryan’s story began in 2004, when he and his nephew, Dave Wood, read about a small distiller in Northern Vermont making vodka from maple sap, and it culminated this summer, when Ryan & Wood produced their first commercially available batch of Beauport Vodka, named after the original moniker given to Gloucester by explorer Samuel de Champlain.

In between is a twisted tale of expensive equipment sitting as the fledgling company waited for licensing (you can’t apply for a license without working equipment), recipe and sample submissions, and endless struggles with the Trade and Taxation Bureau on the size of the type of the labels. And that’s before you get to the taxation, which is prohibitively high.

Fortunately, that’s all behind them now, and the business is up and running. In a few weeks, Knockabout Gin and Folly Cove Rum will join the vodka on the shelves of local restaurants and liquor stores. In addition to being locally made from grain to final product, these spirits are carefully produced in small batches using top-quality ingredients.

The vodka has just a hint of citrus flavor and is intentionally “thin” to mix well in cocktails. One reason it stands out is the water used in the process, which is filtered as many times as the alcohol. The gin gets special treatment, too, in the form of 10 botanicals that are infused into the distillate for no less than 12 hours. (The gin drinker in our group pronounced it outstanding.) Likewise, the molasses used in the rum is fine quality, and the aging takes place in charred oak barrels.

Each of the products is made in a gorgeous Arnold Holstein still that was custom built to allow fractional distillation for the highest quality. Tourists and locals can see it in action at 10:00 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (groups can call to arrange tours for other times).

In the meantime, you can seek out Ryan & Wood products at places like Ryal Side Liquors in Beverly, Chebacco Liquor Mart in Essex, Causeway Liquors in Gloucester, Duddy’s Liquors in Peabody, and Shubie’s in Marblehead. You can also request it at many North Shore bars and restaurants, including Franklin Café in Gloucester, Maddie’s Sail Loft in Marblehead, and Indigo Bar & Grill in South Hamilton, where they feature it in a ginger martini.

Or you may want to try it in what Ryan says is the “in” drink this summer: The Tennis Ball is made in a rocks glass, over ice, with equal parts Beauport Vodka and club soda with a splash of Rose’s lime juice and a lime wedge. How’s that for crisp and refreshing? We’re no master mixologists, but using hand-crafted spirits in our drinks and supporting the local economy at the same time sounds like the perfect cocktail.

Ryan & Wood Distilleries
15 Great Republic Dr, Gloucester
(978) 281-2282
www.ryanandwood.com

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Sonoma Misses the Mark

Posted: August 25th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bistro, Casual/Pub Food, Salem | Tags: , , | 5 Comments »

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On the recommendation of some folks on Chowhound, we had dinner last weekend at Sonoma, a gastropub that opened at the beginning of the summer on Congress Street in Salem, about six blocks from Pickering Wharf.

The place looks terrific, with an attractive bar and a freshly painted interior. The menu looked good, too, with many tapas selections and some interesting sounding entrees. Unfortunately, our meal did not match the surroundings.

The flatbread pizza ($10) was the only good selection of the night: crisp and flavorful with shrimp and pesto. They were out of the shrimp and avocado salad, the chorizo was fine but nothing special, and the torta espanola had no flavor at all. Appetizers run $8 to $10; hot and cold tapas are $6. We sampled a cosmopolitan and a drink special with vodka, chambord, and pineapple ($10); both could have used more booze and less mixers.

Neither of our entrees was a success. The thick-cut pork chop was tender but the sauce and everything else on the plate was bland ($19). The duck pasta in wine sauce was worse, with stringy, flavorless meat and pasta cooked to mush ($18).

With only eight tables, Sonoma is quite small, but it’s still more than one waitperson can cover. Although our waitress was nice, she was completely overwhelmed. Water glasses stayed unfilled, and used dishes sat on our table for most of the evening. Judging by how long we waited for our main meal, the small kitchen was also struggling to handle the Friday night crowd.

We give the folks at Sonoma credit for opening a restaurant in this economy and for getting creative with the menu. Hopefully, the kitchen will begin focusing more on quality than variety and the front of the house will solve its staffing issues.

Sonoma
75 Congress Street, Salem
(978) 607-0140
www.sonomasalem.com

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DownRiver: Best Ice Cream on the North Shore?

Posted: August 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Down River Ice Cream, Essex, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Honestly, the things we won’t do for you people. The other night, we were reading about DownRiver Ice Cream, and were compelled to get out our comfortable deck chairs and see for ourselves if it lived up to the hype.

It does. This was some of the best ice cream we’ve ever eaten.

Yes, this is quite a statement, and, yes, Richardson’s and Dick and June’s have terrific ice cream. But DownRiver outdoes them with its creaminess. Try it for yourselves and see if you agree. (If you’ve already tried it, let us know your favorite flavor.) The store opened at the beginning of the summer on the Essex/Ipswich line.

We had a cup of Deer Tracks, with toffee ice cream, peanut butter truffles, and fudge. The ice cream had a strong toffee flavor, and the fudge was to die for—abundant and seriously decadent.

We also had a cone of Willy Wonka, which has vanilla ice cream, M&Ms, peanut butter cups, Heath Bar, Snickers. The vanilla flavor really come through, the candy was packed in, and the cone was a crisp waffle (no extra charge).

DownRiver charges $3.50 for a regular cone and $4.25 for a large. A cup is $.25 extra as part of the shop’s sustainability efforts (we didn’t see the sign in time). Those efforts mean everything served to customers either goes in the recycle bin (drink cups, napkins, and sundae bowls) or the compost bin (biodegradable ice cream cups, spoons, and straws).

On our next trip, we may try one of the simpler flavors; we’re curious to see how the ice cream makers do with something like strawberry. Or we might start with vanilla and make our own flavor with mix-ins ($.85). There are also several gelato flavors that sound interesting. Then of course there’s Mill River Mix (fudge, coffee ice cream, and Heath Bar) and Clam Flats (chocolate ice cream with white chocolate and macadamia nuts) calling our names.

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

DownRiver Ice Cream
241 John Wise Ave, Essex (Rt. 133)
(978) 768-0102
Downriver Ice cream on Urbanspoon

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Gone to the Dogs

Posted: August 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Beverly, Boston Hot Dog Co., Fred's Franks, Gloucester, Kell's Kreme, Popo's Hot Dogs, Rockport, Rondogs, Salem, Swampscott, Top Dog, Wakefield | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

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This time of year, the media is full of summery stories on the best fried clams, lobster rolls, and ice cream, and we at the Dish are no exception. Last weekend, we set out to find the tastiest hot dogs on the North Shore, risking our arteries and our families’ patience by visiting six vendors in two days.

Given the variety of available products and everyone’s personal taste, it would be folly to attempt to declare a single “best” dog, but we found some tubular treats definitely worth working into your summer itinerary.

All the dogs we tasted were well above average quality, and all but one was served on a buttered, grilled New-England-style frankfurter bun. A few bare-bones dogs ran $2.50; the rest averaged $3.50 to $3.95. Also, we appreciated that several vendors offered the Ipswich Ale Mustard made by local Mercury Brewing Company.

First, we needed to solve the Popo’s (pronounced POP-oh’s) mystery. Having occupied a storefront in Swampscott for several years, we assumed they’d left when the space was taken over by Kell’s Kreme. A quick search revealed they had moved to a location in Gloucester. But it turns out that Kell’s negotiated a licensing deal and still sells Popo’s hot dogs out of this location.

Kell’s has an ice-cream-parlor ambiance: super clean, well lit, and staffed with friendly college kids who were helpful and attentive. On offer were kosher beef, natural casing, and veggie dogs with a plethora of toppings, some complimentary, some at an extra $.50. Our favorite was the Boston Dog, served with baked beans, caramelized onions, and diced real bacon bits. Rich and savory, it was a meal on a bun.

Still curious about the “original” Popo’s, we headed to Gloucester where we met founder Mark Scaglione, a terrifically nice guy who told us his story while prepping our dogs. A lobsterman from Nahant, Scaglione opened the Swampscott location in 2004, and it quickly became known for delicious dogs. With an eye toward the future, he partnered with his friend, Ed Williams from New England Restaurant Brokers and Brighams Ice Cream, to create a new venture: licensing (not franchising) Popo’s hot dogs. The Gloucester location isn’t just a great place to grab a dog, it’s a model for potential investors.

One thing that sets Popo’s dogs apart is attention to detail. We ordered the slaw dog, and Scaglione mixed the cole slaw on order, so it was light and fresh rather than swimming in day-old mayo. We have to admit that although on a quest for dogs, we ordered one of Popo’s famed lobster rolls, which was again mixed to order. This is the first time we have ever been asked how we wanted the lobster salad prepared! The small size was plenty big, chock full of fresh meat, and quite delectable.

Kell’s Kreme
168 Humphrey Street, Swampscott
(617) 599-9900

Popo’s Olde Fashioned Gourmet Hot Dogs
6 Rogers Street, Gloucester
(978) 239-9994
www.poposhotdogs.com/Home_Page.html



Boston Hot Dog Company (a bit of a misnomer as it exists only in Salem), is a unique experience, due in large part to owner Frangoulis, a grinning, energetic man with a boundless personality. He chats, he eats, he addresses everyone rapid-fire and tosses off jokes like a borscht-belt comedian. It’s like low-rent dinner and a show.

Boston offers both beef kosher and natural casing dogs, as well as Italian sausage, three flavors of chicken sausage, and a whopping five flavors of veggie sausage. But the clear favorite here is the quarter pound black angus beef dog. (shown at the top of this post) Whoa, baby, that is one big meaty meal with flavor to spare.

Like Popo’s, Boston offers a Frank Sinatra dog (have it your way) with a long list of available condiments. The best one we tasted was the sweet-but-tart homemade onion relish; we regretted not picking up a jar to bring home ($6).

Boston Hot Dog isn’t the largest or tidiest place we visited, but it’s got a loyal following among Yelpers and Chowhounders, along with the rest of the world. Behind the counter are a US map and world map studded with pins. Downtown Salem is a tourist magnet in the summer, and Frangoulis, who’s been in business five years, makes it a point to mark visitor’s hometowns—people from Alaska to Zimbabwe have chowed on these dogs.

Boston Hot Dog Company
60 Washington Street, Salem
(978) 744-2320



(Editor’s Note 7.21.11: Rondogs has been replaced by The Scotty Dog)

Rondogs, a two-year-old Beverly drive-up made local news this summer when multimillionaire Red Sox owner John Henry made a highly publicized pit stop there on the way to his impending nuptials. We arrived with much less fanfare, but were treated with prompt and perky service just the same.

Although not as charming as a drive-in restaurant from the ’50s, Rondogs’ carhop service is fun and unique. (There are picnic tables if you don’t want to eat in your car.) Like the others, Rondogs serves a variety of dogs, and it’s the only place we visited that offers rippers (that’s deep fried dogs to you and me).

We were disappointed that they were all out of grilled mushrooms and settled for the sauerkraut, which was quite respectable. The dogs were tasty, but the gourmet dogs seemed pricey. The ¼ lb. Rondog is $3.50, and the toppings are mostly .50 each, so at $5.95 for four or five toppings, it’s definitely pricier than the other loaded dogs we tried. It makes the ¼ lb. cheeseburger with four toppings look like a bargain at $3.95.

With a location on busy Rantoul Street at a traffic light, some may not enjoy the view and noise, but the kids will love the served-in-your-car experience, and Rondogs is open until 1:30 a.m. on weekends, making it a good destination for late-night snacking.

Rondogs
437 Rantoul Street, Beverly
(978) 922-3647
www.udine4less.com/rondogs



Top Dog, a Rockport favorite, has also seen its share of famous visitors of late. We heard that Adam Sandler and company, filming in various North Shore locations this summer, have stopped in several times for a hot dog fix.

It’s a fun and funky spot out on Bearskin Neck catering to families and tourists with self-serve condiments, free drink refills, and even free Top Dog tattoos for the kids. There is more indoor seating than most of the places we visited and chalk boards to doodle on while you wait.

The dogs are basic, but there are plenty of toppings to choose from. We couldn’t resist the Golden Retriever, a mac-and-cheese dog, just for the fun of it. It was surprisingly good and drew longing gazes from several five-year-olds as we sat eating it outside. The German Shepherd was also worthy; the sauerkraut was fresher and more flavorful than at Rondogs, if a bit skimpy. Top Dog is known for their fried clams as well, but we’re waiting for another visit to try them.

Bearskin Neck is always packed with tourists in the summer, so expect a line around meal times, but it moves at a good pace, and the friendly wait staff is dedicated to service.

Top Dog
2 Doyle’s Cove Road
Bearskin Neck, Rockport
(978) 546-0006
www.topdogrockport.com



Last but far from least, we couldn’t complete this epic journey without a stop at Fred’s Franks. Wakefield doesn’t fall into our usual definition of North Shore (being north but not shore), but so many people had recommended Fred that we felt compelled to pay him a visit, and he did not disappoint.

Fred is located right on the rotary at exit 40 off Rt. 128, with a beautiful view of the lake. Here Fred hangs out with his cart and his big green egg, a fabulous giant charcoal grill. Yes, these were the only dogs we tasted that were grilled to order over a charcoal flame, and they were awesome.

Fred uses Pearl all-beef natural-casing franks in three sizes; regular (1/8 lb.), jumbo (¼ lb), and a ½ lb. monster the likes of which we’d never seen. He also offers kielbasa, chorizo, and linguica and works that grill like a maestro, snapping it open with a custom pully system he devised.

The condiments are self serve, though Fred will happily make suggestions, and he offers a few of his own creations, like habanera mayo and habanera barbeque sauce. Our favorite was the homemade sweet-and-sour chopped cabbage, which added a tangy crunch. Fred doesn’t grill his buns, but they are fresh baked and generous, in various sizes for the different meats. With such incredible dogs, this spot is destined to become a favorite stop on any road trip, long or short, from now on.

Fred’s Franks
Exit 40 off of Route 128, Wakefield
www.fredsfranks.com

Rather than the heartburn we expected from this weekend, we found wonderful people, stories, and an unexpected local passion for this American classic. Not to mention some darn fine franks. One note of caution: several of these vendors close for the winter, and their hours vary greatly, so check out their Web sites or call ahead to avoid disappointment. Now, go eat some hot dogs. And let us know who serves up your favorite!

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Dates Set for Fall Salem Restaurant Week

Posted: August 17th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Salem | Tags: | No Comments »

The Chamber of Commerce has announced that fall restaurant week in Salem will run from Sunday September 13th to Thursday the 17th. Exact price for the three-course specials hasn’t been set yet. We’ll update you on which restaurants will be participating as soon as we get the list. In the meantime, see our post about the spring event for a list–many of these eateries are likely to participate again.

Editor’s note: The list of participating restaurants has been announced and you can find it here:

Salem Restaurant Week Fall 2009

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Savoring the Tastes of Vietnam

Posted: August 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Peabody, Sugar Cane | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments »

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As huge fans of Asian cuisine, we’d been meaning to get to Sugar Cane, near Peabody Square, for quite a while. We’re now kicking ourselves for having waited so long.

Aside from one dish we didn’t love, everything we put in our mouths on recent visit was superb, starting with the drinks. We tried a sake-tini, a mai tai, and the zombie. All were delicious, and the mai tai stood out as better tasting than others we’ve had at other Asian restaurants.

While sipping, we studied the menu, which includes both Chinese and Vietnamese dishes for each category, side by side. Since Vietnamese is hard to come by north of Boston, we agreed to order from that side, with the exception of the house pan-fried dumplings ($6), which came with ginger soy and were crispy and light—some of the best we’ve had (and we’ve had a lot).

The small bowl of beef pho ($4) was fine but seemed bland. When we added the hoisin and hot sauces it came with, though, the flavor came alive. We also enjoyed the banh xeo crepe ($8), a large, crisp omelet with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, and mung bean. It’s a must-have. The nem cuon summer roll with grilled pork ($6) was billed as a Vietnamese specialty, so we gave it a spin but didn’t like the texture of the meat. More likely our American palates than a miss from the kitchen.

All the entrees we ordered were dishes we would have again, starting with the chicken with lemongrass ($10). Wonderful savory flavor with tender meat and crisp-tender vegetables. The kho salmon with baby bok choy ($13) featured two large fillets, perfectly cooked and topped with a delicious spiced caramel sauce.

The mango shrimp were firm and good sized, with plenty of mango, peppers, and onions to accompany them ($13). Our last entrée was angel hair Singapore style with curry sauce, chicken, shrimp, pork, peppers, and onions ($8), which was spicy but not overly so and really hit the spot. Next time, we may try the tempting option of creating our own stir fry with many options for meat, vegetables, and sauces.

The service was extremely attentive and friendly, with our waiter calling over the manager when he couldn’t understand one of our questions about the drink menu. For those of you who’ve been curious about Vietnamese cuisine, Sugar Cane is a sure bet—and you can go with someone not as adventurous thanks to the Chinese dishes on offer.

Sugar Cane
106 Main St, Peabody
(978) 532-7800
www.sugarcanepeabody.com

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Get in Line for Wrapture

Posted: August 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Cafe, Wrapture | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Foodies know that ingredients are as important as technique—whether it’s an expensive dinner entrée or a sandwich. So it’s no surprise that there’s always a lunch-time line at Beverly’s Wrapture, where the ingredients are fresh and top quality.

On a recent sunny day, we snagged one of the café’s outdoor tables to enjoy some of the bounty. We ordered all wraps on this trip but noted several interesting bowls on offer, including asian, curry, and pad thai (all $7.50 without meat). There’s also a homemade soup that changes daily.

We’re big fans of the burrito with black beans, sour cream, salsa, jack cheese, and rice ($5.25). With the steak and guacamole we added, it was $7.50. The steak had great flavor, the combination was wonderful, and the wrap was big enough for two lunches.

The junior member of our party ordered one of the day’s specials, the turkey club wrap, featuring cheese and crispy bacon. Another satisfied customer.

We also tried the crabcake wrap, which was flavored with chipotle mayo and combined with onion, red pepper, corn, black bean, and romaine ($8.25). The crabcake was warm and tasted great, but we weren’t crazy about the corn/bean addition. The portabella mushroom with goat cheese, baby spinach, red peppers, onions, and roasted garlic puree ($7.25) was a success and a must-try for garlic lovers.

On our way out, we admired two more wraps and were assured they tasted as good as they looked: the middle eastern with falafel and the gyro with tzatziki. We were told they were best on spinach wraps (other choices include plain, wheat, and sundried tomato).

Wrapture, run by the folks who own nearby Soma, is certainly not the most cost-conscious choice for lunch, but if you don’t mind paying a dollar or two more for cooked-to-order, quality ingredients, it’s well worth braving the lunch line.

Wrapture
284 Cabot St, Beverly
www.wrapturebeverly.com
(978) 524-7710

Wrapture on Urbanspoon

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Happy Trails

Posted: August 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Event | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

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If you haven’t been to the Mass Grown website, published by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, it’s a terrific clearinghouse of information on all things locally grown and produced.

We especially want to call your attention to the Savor Massachusetts section, which promotes culinary tourism and has links to some great local foodie information by area.

There’s a page on brewery tours with addresses, hours, and pricing information. Here on the North Shore you might want to check out Cape Ann Brewery. There’s also a page listing culinary education opportunities, including Lattitude 43’s “We Cook What You Catch,” a fishing trip paired with a fresh catch lunch or dinner.

Additionally, you’ll find a calendar page with culinary events and farm festivals like the Alfalfa Farm Winery Salsa & Sangria Party in Topsfield on August 15.

And last but not least, there’s a new PDF called Wine & Cheese Trails with directions to various wineries and cheesemakers. The North Shore section features Essex Cheese Company, Russell Orchards, and Alfalfa Farm. Other trails include South of Boston, Cape and Islands, Central Mass, and Western Mass, for those willing to venture outside the North Shore.

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Conquering Curry Cravings at Passage to India

Posted: August 4th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Indian, Passage to India, Salem | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

After returning from a week’s vacation and a long drive, there was no way we were interested in actually cooking dinner, let alone something exotic, but the idea of Indian food had been kicked around. Before long, our curry cravings had us heading in the direction of Passage to India.

Tucked into a row of storefronts on Washington Street in Salem, Passage is one of five sister restaurants, including one by the same name in Porter Square, Cambridge. Five locations smacks of a chain, something we would generally steer clear of, but several friends had recommended the eatery.

Upon entering, it was impossible not to notice both the fully stocked bar and the fact that the place smelled divine. We were seated immediately by courteous and friendly staff and left to peruse the good-sized menu featuring standard options as well as nightly specials, Southern Indian dishes (we love dosas), and seafood specialties not commonly seen in Indian restaurants.

We started with cocktails ($8-$9), which were well poured and generous, and ordered the fish pakora, partly because it seemed like a novelty, and the vegetable samosas. The pakora ($7) was haddock, so it had a fish-and-chips feel, but was light and served with marvelous mint chutney. The veggie samosas ($3.25) were well beyond standard: very fresh and crispy with a savory and slightly garlicky filling.

Speaking of garlic, along with our entrees we absolutely had to try the garlic naan, ($3.25) which was excellent— piping hot, with a crusty bottom, fluffy top, and tons of flavor. (Beware, they don’t skimp on the garlic, and I think even the next day my breath was suffering.)

When taking our order, not only did our server ask what level of spice we wanted, he used one of the chutneys on the table as an example, so we could understand just how hot “hot” really was, which was quite helpful.

For one main dish we opted for the tandoori chicken tikka ($13), which was standard tandoori style chicken, served sizzling fajita style with a tikka sauce on the side. The meat was tender and nicely grilled, and the combination was tasty.

Our second entrée, goa shrimp curry ($15), was fabulous in the extreme. It was a yellow curry base with ground coconut, but a complex blend of spices tamed any sweetness and created a rich hot and savory sauce we couldn’t get enough of.

Sadly, we were too full for dessert, but we were pleasantly surprised when the waiter offered  steamed towels at the end of the meal. (Really, when was the last time you had that sort of service in a restaurant in this price range?)

By the time we left, every table was full, and it’s easy to see why: terrific food, reasonable prices, and great service. The next time your curry craving sends you on a trip, consider booking this Passage.

Passage to India
157 Washington Street, Salem
(978) 832-2200
www.passageindia.com
Passage to India on Urbanspoon

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