Last weekend the weather was so gorgeous that we just had to get outdoors. On a whim, we decided to head to Plum Island for a walk along the beach and marshes. By the time we got ourselves out there, it was almost noon, and we were in need of a meal before anything else. The logical choice was of course the Plum Island Grille, which opens for a jazz brunch at noon on Sundays.
The restaurant has rustic beach feel with both a pretty dining room and a great enclosed porch with an incredible view, which is where we were seated. One look at the menu tells you that despite the casual atmosphere, the food goes far beyond ordinary beach fare. Both the brunch and dinner menus have lighter fare, more substantial meals, and a good range of starters, all with reasonable prices.
We started with an obligatory bloody mary, the wild mushroom turnovers ($12), and the fresh PEI mussels ($10). The turnover was filled with organic wild mushrooms in a light sauce and served with truffled gouda sour cream and tomato salsa. While quite tasty, the deep fried wonton like shell was a bit incongruous; a baked pie crust pastry would have suited it better. The mussels, simmered in a Thai green curry and coconut milk broth and finished with fresh cilantro and mint, were delightful. The freshness of the herbs enhanced the curry, and the broth didn’t overwhelm the shellfish.
For entrees, we chose the swordfish burger with tapenade and aioli ($15) and the duck confit served with warm goat cheese, trumpet royale mushrooms, and lardon with a poached pear jam ($16) The swordfish, which was served with fries and field greens, was expertly grilled; tender and juicy with the tapenade lending a bit of a piquant kick. The duck was absolutely delicious, rich and savory. In combination with the sautéed bacon and mushrooms, it was downright luxurious. The warm goat cheese turned out to be a fried ball, but it wasn’t heavy or greasy, and the pear jam offered a lovely accent.
The restaurant faces Sunset Boulevard, and aside from conjuring up visions of Norma Desmond, there is a reason for the street’s name. It runs along the salt marshes that line the western side of the island, over which the setting sun provides a spectacular vision. Plum Island Grille overlooks this idyll, making it not only a good stop for terrific food, but one of most memorable places on the North Shore to relax with a drink and watch the sun go down.
Plum Island Grille
2 Plum Island Blvd, Newbury