5 Corners Kitchen: Former Aquitaine Chef Shares His Vision for New Marblehead Eatery

Posted: March 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: 5 Corners Kitchen, Bistro, Marblehead | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments »

3262010bAlthough the North Shore has been experiencing something of a restaurant renaissance lately, Marblehead hasn’t really seen much activity in its dining scene—until now, that is. Marblehead resident Barry Edelman plans to change that by bringing enthusiasm, fresh ideas, and his passion for food to 2 School Street.

A former chef de cuisine at Aquitaine in Boston, Edelman had recently moved to Bistro du Midi in the Back Bay. When that didn’t work out as planned, he decided it was time to make his personal vision a reality and open his own restaurant.

As real estate agents have drilled into us, it’s all about location, and in that respect Edelman hit the jackpot. The former Ladycakes Bakery space sits precisely in the middle of the action at the Five Corners intersection. As Edelman says “When you walk into a space, you want to feel good energy.” With antique architectural charm, high pressed-tin ceilings, large windows, and a corner front door, the space has great potential. The clincher? Edelman can walk to work.

A hands-on guy with boundless energy, he is managing the renovation on his own, and I found him earlier this week with hammer in hand and plaster dust covering his jeans. He showed me around the space, which will feature a bar and dining room, accommodating about 40 people between the two. The kitchen is small, but being both owner and chef, he’s designed it to work for his style.

And what is his style? Despite a background long on French cuisine, Edelman says “I take pride in the simple things, I am going to be doing a lot of humble ingredients. My style is whatever’s good, whatever’s fresh, whatever’s local. I want 5 Corners Kitchen to be a place where people are happy, enjoy themselves, eat well, and not feel they’ve been robbed,” he said.

Edelman’s passion for this type of cooking is obvious. “Sometimes chefs feel like they’ve gotta be creative and do some crazy concoction,” he said. “I want to use fresh, local ingredients in a way t­hat makes sense. I’m someone who cooks a little bit more classically and tries to nail the way it should be done.”

Fresh is a word Edelman repeats like a mantra. And he’s serious about the local aspect. “I told my seafood vendor, ‘I’m the guy you’re going to want to call when you’ve got skate.’ Nobody uses skate or monkfish—local stuff like that comes from our waters.”

As spring unfolds, many more local foods will be available, of course. “I want to use the stuff that actually comes from here. We live in a beautiful place that has so many great farms,” Edelman said. “In the spring, you can bet I’ll be at the farmers’ markets every week.” He also hopes to be able to offer handcrafted charcuterie.

Right now, the plan is to offer six or seven appetizers and entrees very moderately priced, with entrees under $20. The menu will change almost constantly to accommodate foods that are fresh and in season. Like the main menu, the wine list will be small, clean, concise, and ever-changing, as well as affordably priced.

Edelman feels strongly about keeping his prices reasonable and says he’ll be able to do this because he’s not paying Boston rental prices. He wants to provide a city experience in terms of food and service but at a North Shore price point.

“The things I’m going to focus on don’t cost any extra money,” he said. “To properly season and cook a piece of fish doesn’t cost any extra. To greet someone at the door and make sure their server is attentive without being intrusive doesn’t cost anything.”

5 Corners Kitchen will initially be open for dinner and for a “good old-fashioned brunch with proper omelets” from 10:00 to 3:00 on both Saturdays and Sundays. Eventually, Edelman hopes to offer lunch as well. Right now, the target date for opening is May 1. From the look of things, Edelman has his work cut out for him to meet that date, but if he can create a comfortable room that offers interesting fresh food with great service at reasonable prices, we’ll be the first in line, whenever it opens.

Edited 5/11/10; 5 Corners Kitchen is slated to open tomorrow, May 12th, for dinner.

Edited 5/28/10; Our review of 5 Corners Kitchen has been posted.

5 Corners Kitchen
2 School Street, Marblehead
www.5cornerskitchen.com

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Brunch Bunch

Posted: March 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Breakfast, brunch, Lynn, Manchester, Newburyport, Rockport, Salem | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Marge: “What’s brunch?”
Jacques: “You’ll love it. It’s not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end.”

It’s that time of year again, when the spring bulbs start blooming and the people start brunching. Sure, eating breakfast out is always popular, but when the weather improves, a leisurely brunch and a long seaside walk to work off that eggs benedict is an excellent way to spend your Sunday. Spring also brings the two biggest brunch days of the year: Easter and Mother’s Day.

So while we adore local diners and feature breakfast joints all year long, we’ve got a list of places worth considering if you’re looking for something a little more upscale.

Nathaniel’s at Hawthorne Hotel in Salem is well known for its gorgeous Sunday Jazz Brunch, which has been consistently voted Best of the North Shore by North Shore Magazine. They offer seatings at 11:15 am, 11:30 am 1:30 pm, and 1:45 pm, and while reservations are not required, they are strongly recommended.

The Hawthorne will be offering an Easter Brunch Buffet from 10:30 to 7:00 for $40 per adult and $15 per child. Menus for the Jazz Brunch and the Easter Buffet are available in .pdf form on the Web site. A similar brunch will be offered on Mother’s Day, but the menu is not yet available.

Newburyport’s Ten Center offers their Bloody Good Brunch on Sundays from 11:00 to 3:00 with some interesting twists on the traditional and a Make Your Own Bloody Mary Bar. They are hosting a special buffet for Easter in the private dining room featuring a separate children’s buffet and a dessert buffet. Seatings will be at 12:00, 2:00, and 4:00; reservations are required. The buffet is $55 per adult and $15 per child.

A couple of places that don’t usually do breakfast are serving up specials for Easter brunch as well. The Blue Ox in Lynn is offering a mouth-watering three-course menu for $29 per person that includes things like baked Duxbury oysters with mascarpone cheese, diced apples, scallions, apple brandy and grilled local applewood-smoked ham with roasted fingerling potatoes, grilled asparagus, sherry wine and shallot sauce. They will be open from 11:00 to 4:00 on Easter.

Finz in Salem also has an Easter special, a buffet that will include a raw bar and items like swordfish oscar and banana-encrusted salmon. The buffet is $35 per person and $16 for kids under 12.

If you’re looking for a pretty Sunday drive, head to Emerson Inn by the Sea in Rockport for their extensive Easter Grand Buffet from 11:30 to 3:30. The lobster deviled eggs and mascarpone stuffed french toast with wild-berry compote are calling our names. The buffet runs $45 per person, $22.50 for children ages 3 to 10. There is limited seating available, so they’re encouraging people to call early for reservations. The Emerson Inn will be serving a similar brunch on Mother’s Day but haven’t yet announced the menu.

And although we haven’t seen any published holiday specials, the following restaurants serve up Sunday brunch on a regular basis:

Cala’s in Manchester hosts a brunch from 11:30 to 2:00 that includes breakfast standards, bistro fare, and a build-your-own pizza menu. Reservations are available but not required, and the menu is available here.

Tryst in Beverly offers breakfast from 10:00 to 1:00, and we’ve heard good things about it, though the menu isn’t available online. It is also first-come, first-served, as they don’t take reservations.

Salem’s Lyceum, which recently underwent a metamorphosis, is open for brunch 11:00 to 3:00, and the menu has some intriguing-sounding dishes at a range of prices. Edit: They have since published an Easter menu, which can be found here.

So whether you’re treating the family, your mom, or just yourself, there are so many tasty options on the North Shore, you’ll wish you had a month of Sundays to enjoy them.

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Psst! Want Some Chicken Pot Pie?

Posted: March 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Ken's Kicken' Chicken, Marketplace, Salem | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments »

3182010

Put on your trench coat and fedora. Drive to Salem on Route 114. If you’re sure you haven’t been followed, turn in between the Hess station and HMA Car Care. Turn left on Franklin, go to the end, and park. Proceed to Ken’s Kicken Chicken and score a large pie with stuffing…

Okay, so it’s not as clandestine as all that, but we were intrigued by the mainly word-of-mouth business Ken Rothwell of Rothwell’s Custom Catering has built up around his chicken pot pies.

Rothwell sold his Salem restaurant, A Taste of Thyme, four years ago and now runs the catering business out of a large industrial kitchen on Franklin Street. A few months ago, frustrated by the quality of available pre-packed chicken pies, his wife challenged him to come up with something better. Pretty soon, his friends were clamoring for them, and word spread from there.

Today, Rothwell is selling 1,000 pies per week out of the catering kitchen and has added a variety of high-quality prepared foods including 15 kinds of soup (the clam chowder is famous among those in the know), shepards’s pie, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, and chicken broccoli ziti. Cold offerings such as Waldorf chicken salad (delicious), horseradish cheese spread, and hummus are also available, along with several desserts.

But the pies are the stars of the show, or perhaps we should say the heavyweights—the large pie with stuffing weighs five pounds. And we’re happy to report it lives up to the hype. The huge chunks of white-meat chicken are moist, the sauce is rich but not cloying, the vegetables are cooked perfectly (carrots and peas, tender but not mushy), and the stuffing is tasty with great texture. The crust puts it over the top—buttery and delicious.

We bought a large pie with stuffing, which is $16.95 and feeds four to six. Fresh pies take 35 minutes to bake and will keep for five days in the fridge. Frozen pies will keep for several months and take about an hour to bake. The pies are available in small ($8.95 with stuffing, feeds three), without veggies (chicken and stuffing only) and without stuffing (chicken and veggies only).

For now, the pies are not available in stores, and we recommend buying them during the week if you can. The lines are long on weekends, and they sometimes run out. Look for new offerings soon, including a chicken pie with cornbread topping and a buffalo chicken pie.

Ken’s Kicken’ Chicken
7 Franklin St, Salem
(978) 825-0200
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kens-Kicken-Chicken/218158584732

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Celebrating Spring With Restaurant Deals

Posted: March 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Salem | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Salem’s spring restaurant week will run from Sunday April 11 to Thursday April 15. Below is a preliminary list of participating restaurants, all offering a prix-fixe three-course dinner for $25 (beverage, tax, and gratuity not included). We’ll update this list as more participants are announced. We’ve included a link to our post for restaurants we’ve visited.

Sixty2 on Wharf
62 Wharf St, (978) 744-0062
Review

The Lobster Shanty
25 Front St, (978) 745-5449
Review

Lyceum Bar & Grill
43 Church St, (978) 745-7665
Review

Finz
76 Wharf St, (978) 744-0000
Review

Capt’s Waterfront Grill & Club
94 Wharf Street, (978) 741-0555

The Grapevine Restaurant
26 Congress St, (978) 745-9335

Nathaniel’s at the Hawthorne Hotel
18 Washington Square, (978) 825-4311

The Tavern at the Hawthorne Hotel
18 Washington Square, (978) 825-4311

Regatta Pub at Salem Waterfront Hotel
225 Derby St, (978) 740-8788

Rockafellas
231 Essex St, (978) 745-2411

Upper Crust
118 Washington St, (978) 741-2787

Additional, April 6, 2010:

Passage to India
157 washington St., (978) 832-2200
Review

Victoria Station
86 Wharf St., (978) 745-3400

Cilantro
282 Derby St., (978) 745-9436

Thai Place
Church St., Museum Place Mall, (978) 741-8008

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Fish Tales: Does Cape Ann Fresh Catch Measure Up?

Posted: March 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Cape Ann Fresh Catch, Gloucester, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Cape Ann Fresh Catch, the Gloucester-based community supported fishery program, has certainly made a big splash since it debuted last year. Lauded by the likes of Boston.com and Saveur, the program has been popular among those with a desire to eat fresh, locally produced foods.

Caught fresh daily by Gloucester fishermen, approximately five pounds of seafood per customer is delivered to seven Boston area communities; Cambridge (two locations), Jamaica Plain, Acton, Lincoln, Marblehead, Gloucester, Newburyport, and Ipswich. There is a two-hour window for shareholders to pick up. Consumers get local, seasonal, super-fresh fish, and the money goes directly to the fishermen, supporting the local economy and encouraging sustainable practices.

We subscribed to the winter season, which started in the middle of December. It was supposed to run eight weeks, but due to understandable delays caused by stormy weather, we just picked up our last share. Winter shares included an option for local or “Maine” shrimp, as they are in season. We opted for a half fish/half shrimp share, which meant receiving five pounds of shrimp alternating weeks with five pounds of fish.

3152010cSign up was easy and pick up relatively convenient. The CAFC people were great with keeping everyone informed about schedule and expectations via Web, Twitter and e-mail. Our delivery guy Steve (pictured here) was helpful and even emailed out a fish cake recipe after chatting about it. The fish itself was incredibly fresh and delicious. If you are used to buying fish at the supermarket, I can’t stress this enough—the difference in taste is phenomenal.

Something I didn’t anticipate was the “facing your food” sensation. Unlike the bland fillets from a glass case, here was a whole damned fish (thankfully gutted) taking up my kitchen counter and staring at me with his big eyes. Truth be told, I was fascinated. During the season we ended up Googling all manner of fishy facts and watching YouTube videos on everything from filleting techniques to shrimp recipes. We contracted for fresh seafood and got an education in the bargain.

So, what’s the catch? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Although we liked the program so much we’ll sign up for another season, it’s not without issues. The biggest complaint I’ve heard is the lack of variety. Along with the shrimp, we ended up with cod, pollock, and haddock during the season. This was change enough for me, but we also had several missed weeks due to inclement weather. I can see how one could easily end up with a freezer full of pollock.

The shrimp were also a surprise. Despite having grown up on the North Shore, I was unfamiliar with the local variety. Used to big gulf shrimp, these wee pink ones were a mystery to me. The flavor was wonderful: sweet, delicate, and almost lobster-like. But shelling them was extremely time consuming and seemed hardly worth it for the amount of meat harvested. I think next time I’ll skip the shrimp and buy the shelled meat at a local fish monger.

That brings us to the question of cost, which figures in at $4/lb for fish and $3.50/lb for fish and shrimp. Sounds like a bargain until you realize that you are receiving whole fish or shrimp that needs to be processed. Even if you’re an expert with a fillet knife, how many edible pounds are you actually buying? Is it worth the effort?

Unless you live in a coastal town with a reasonably priced fish market selling dayboat fish you can patronize at whim, the answer is a definite yes. That’s what Cape Ann Fresh Catch delivers—incredibly fresh, great quality fish that helps food lovers support the local economy.

Cape Ann Fresh Catch
Gloucester, MA
(978) 283-2504
http://namanet.org/csf/cape-ann-fresh-catch

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News and Notes

Posted: March 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Wow—there are so many things going on right now our heads are spinning. We also had some tasty meals and treats over the weekend, so, without further ado, here’s a roundup of everything we thought you should know.

On Tuesday March 23 at 7:00 p.m., The Blue Ox’s Matt O’Neil will be demonstrating how to filet a whole cod and braise ramps. The $35 fee includes a three-course meal (dessert is dulche de leche/chocolate chunk bread pudding). Call (781) 780-5722 to reserve a spot.

The Lyceum has announced a new drink menu, including a cool as a cucumber martini; a french cocktail with champagne, gin, lemon juice, and cointreau; and an orange bitter martini with Grey Goose orange, dry vermouth, cointreau, and orange bitters.

Salem Restaurant Week dates have been announced. The event will take place Sunday April 11 to Thursday April 15. We’ll have a list of restaurants for you as soon as they are announced.

Seeking comfort food Saturday night, we ended up at 15 Walnut and found just what we were looking for: a cup of the best French onion soup we’ve ever tasted (complete with cheese-covered croutons), a perfectly cooked burger on a brioche bun, and highly addictive hand-cut fries. The bartenders were having an infectiously good time, and the margaritas were just right.

Turbine Wine Bar has opened in Lynn with an interesting-looking menu. The Web site is short on information right now, but Corey from Downtown Lynn blogged about his visit here.

We have heard exciting news about the new restaurant going into the recently vacated Ladycakes space in Marblehead and will bring you more details soon.

We had a dish of pistachio gelato this weekend from Jaho in Salem. It was fantastic, as was the mocha coffee we washed it down with. The small gelato is $3.50, and it’s plenty to satisfy a sweet tooth. We sampled the chocolate gelato also, and it was fine but not worth the calories.

The Adriatic Restaurant and Bar is slated to open soon in what used to be the Edgewater Café in Salem (Washington St). It will offer a mix of Italian and European food.

Ithaki in Ipswich is closed for renovations and will reopen March 25.

Salem’s Spring Fling is slated for Saturday March 27 from 6:00 to 9:00. Sponsored by Pamplemousse, this event takes place at Old Town Hall and celebrates the end of winter with fine wine, craft beer, and food from local restauranteurs. Tickets are $25.

And last but certainly not least, Coven Artisinal Market Cafe and Dessert Bar will open in early April at 281 Essex Street in Salem. It will specialize in freshly made food, whimsical desserts, artisanal market items, and local farm fresh produce.

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Marblehead’s Ataraxis Tavern Brings New Energy to the Avenue

Posted: March 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Ataraxis Tavern, Casual/Pub Food, Marblehead | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Edit 12/29/10: We are sorry to report that Ataraxis Tavern has closed it’s doors.

Marblehead’s got a new bar and grill in town, though you likely haven’t heard of it yet. Ataraxis Tavern has quickly and quietly filled the space left by Flynnie’s and in the month since their soft opening, has been generating great buzz.

Jeff Flynn and his family are well regarded by Marbleheaders and both Flynnie’s on the Avenue and at Devereux Beach were favorites of many, so while it may not be fair, comparisons by locals will be inevitable.

We stopped by last night to take a look for ourselves and had the opportunity to chat with owner Dean Santamaria-Capetanelis. Dean grew up in Marblehead and when he and friend Paul Riccardi, previously the executive chef at Jack Tar, were looking to open a restaurant and saw the space for sale, they jumped at the chance to return to town. Dean and Paul’s shared vision is that of a relaxing family-friendly tavern atmosphere serving quality comfort food. The name, Ataraxis, is actually an English word meaning “the absence of mental stress or anxiety.”

On first glance, the interior feels darker, warmer and indeed quieter for such a small space. The paneling on the walls, which was originally reclaimed wood from a tannery in Peabody, has been stained a dark walnut. The other big change is the black tablecloths and linen napkins at each table.  Dean explains that not only does this help in baffling noise, but using linens is also more cost effective and creates less waste than paper. The new chairs and fresh coat of paint add to the revived atmosphere. And families with children shouldn’t be put off by the new look—our junior Dish member was delighted at the offer of an Etch-A-Sketch from the stash at the hostess stand to occupy kids waiting on their food.

332010aThere are a couple of changes that haven’t happened yet, but are in the works. The floor needs refinishing, but instead of fighting the salt, sand and snow of winter, that will wait till warmer months. Also, the custom painted glass between the restaurant area and bar is in the process of being replaced.

Much of the transformation, Santamaria-Capetanelis tells us, will never be seen by the public. The kitchen has gotten a facelift, as well as new chef (Riccardi) and sous-chef (Jake Soucy), and a new computer system installed. There are some familiar faces, though, because he hired back the former Flynnie’s wait and bar staff which made the transition smoother than most.

The menu, as promised, centers on hearty and comfort food favorites. The big difference here is that everything is prepared to order from scratch, using fresh ingredients. Dean already uses local suppliers like Patriot Lobster for seafood and Atomic Café for coffee, and is interested in locally sourcing as much as he can as the seasons change.

332010bWhile we didn’t get to explore much of the menu, we did try the ribs ($14.50 for half rack, $21 for full) which were terrific. They were fall-off-the-bone tender and had great flavor. The grilled farmhouse burger ($8.75) was fresh, juicy and generous, and the fries plentiful and tasty.

Santamaria-Capetanelis is pleased with the initial public reaction, and said that business for February, (a difficult month to open anything) exceeded their expectations. Visitors have warmed to the new place, and with so many storefronts still vacant from economic upheaval, we’re thinking Atlantic Avenue can only benefit from the energy generated by Dean and his crew.

If you are interested in checking out the AT for yourself, think about heading over tomorrow night, Thursday March 4th, for their grand opening celebration. They will be serving up samples of their signature dishes as well as handing out fun freebies from Cape Ann Brewing Company from 5-7 pm.

Ataraxis Tavern
28 Atlantic Ave., Marblehead
781-639-2100
ataraxistavern.com (the menu is up, but the site is still under construction)
Ataraxis Tavern Facebook Page
Ataraxis Tavern on Urbanspoon

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