An Ode to Dube’s Fried Shrimp

Posted: October 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Dube's Seafood, Salem, Seafood | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Every summer, the local media publish their annual stories on the best ice cream, beaches, and fried clams in New England. Pilgrimages are made to Ipswich and Essex, and the merits of their clam shacks hotly debated.

While I eat and enjoy clams, you’ll notice my artery-threatening seafood of choice is shrimp. And the best fried shrimp on the North Shore is found at Dube’s Seafood in Salem, hands down.

The Pelletier family has run Dube’s (pronounced Doobies) since 1961, when they bought what at one time was a take-out stand from the original Dube. The interior décor likely hasn’t changed much in the past half-century. We’re talking old school here; red vinyl banquettes, laminate tables, wood-paneled walls, and a long low bar. It’s tiny and dive-y but quite comfortable, and the staff is terrifically friendly.

Clichéd as it sounds, for me, Dube’s isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a family tradition. My dad inevitably sees someone he knows there. Whenever one of my siblings comes back to the area to visit, a dinner there is imperative. Whenever a new seafood place opens, Dube’s is the standard to which they are compared.

When we stopped in for dinner last weekend, I realized that I’ve been eating there for something like 30 years. And I have to admit, I always order the same thing—the fried shrimp.  Dube’s menu offers weekly specials in addition to a wide variety of baked, grilled, and fried fish, but somehow when the waitress appears with her pen poised, it’s gotta be the shrimp.

We ordered cocktails, which are incredibly well priced. They run the gamut from old standards like my dirty martini ($5.25) to newer, seasonal creations like the pumpkin martini on offer that night ($6).

The obligatory starter is always the famed onion rings ($6 for small, $8 for large), which are medium cut and not too heavily breaded. Then the hot, succulent, golden entree plate arrives stacked high. I counted 17 shrimp piled on the mound of fries ($14.95). The coating is light and crisp, and the seafood moist and incredibly fresh tasting.

Not having grown up with a fried shrimp obsession, my partner in crime debates his choice of entrée each visit. This time, he decided on a fish stew special. It was an impressive bowl, full of shrimp, scallops, haddock, and clams in a rich, satisfying broth, served with rice and fresh-cut veggies on the side ($10.95).

Far enough from the center of town in a mostly residential neighborhood, our waitress tells us that Dube’s doesn’t get the huge influx of tourists around Halloween that most of Salem does. “Unless they ask a local where to go for seafood, then they come here.” And that about sums it up. Locals in the know will tell you Dube’s is the place to go for the best fried seafood around.

Dube’s Seafood
317 Jefferson Ave, Salem
(978) 744-9531

Dube's on Urbanspoon

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Our Weekend Picks

Posted: October 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Shubie's Market Place | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

It looks like we’ll get the fall weather back this weekend, just in time for Halloween. The biggest Halloween party in the nation happens right here on the North Shore, and if you’re the partying kind and have never been to Salem for the big day, get thee hence; it really is a scene like no other. Just take heed when deciding how to get there.

Whether you have little ones looking forward to trick or treating, or you’re stocking up on candy to hand out to the neighbors, here is a list of the official trick or treat hours in North Shore communities.

For those of you who prefer smaller crowds and fine wines, on Saturday October 30, Shubie’s is holding their Corks and Forks Annual Fall Wine & Food Festival. From noon to 4:00, they will be pouring with over 50 wines, featuring The BZ Collection, MS Walker, European Cellars, Old Bridge Cellars, Wildman Imports, Grange Fine Wines, and Classic Wine Imports.

There will also be tastes to try along with the wine. Among others, Chef Lynn Aronson will be debuting her new cheese fondue, Fantastic Fortunes will be on hand with samples of the giant fortune cookies, and Tea Forte will be demonstrating their innovative teas and delicious blends.

The event is free to the public and special discounts on wines will be available that day. We’ve really enjoyed these tastings in the past, and you can read about our experience here.

While not happening on the weekend, next Tuesday’s Take a Bite out of Trafficking is an important event everyone should be aware of. Restaurants, chefs, and businesses located north of Boston will join together in support of Anuradha Koirala, one of CNN’s Top Ten Heroes of 2010 nominees. Her Maiti Nepal is a non-profit organization that combats the sex trafficking of Nepali women and children.

Held at the Ipswich Country Club, the event will kick off at 5:45 with a special chef’s tasting featuring samplings from various restaurants, including 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar, Tryst, The Blue Ox, Pellana, 15 Walnut, Shea’s, Ipswich Country Club, Salem Waterfront Hotel, 9 Elm, American BBQ, Mr. India, Ithaki, Bradford Tavern, and The Green Land Cafe.

In addition to culinary samplings from some of the area’s most recognized chefs, the evening includes an exclusive movie screening and an auction featuring a variety of fabulous items. Tickets are $45 presale, $50 at the door. Cash bar. All proceeds of the event go directly to Maiti Nepal.

For more things to do this weekend, checkout these choice picks from our North Shore Bloggers Consortium pals:

Seth’s rundown of what’s up in Lynn this Halloween Weekend at Lynn Happens.

Joey C’s Halloween edition of his weekend picks at Good Morning Gloucester.

Jane’s got some spooky cool events listed in her  picks over at Food & Fiction.

Rob and Laura have scouted out hauntings all over New England at The Two Plaverers.

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Windward Grille Chowder Wins People’s Choice Award at Essex Clam Fest

Posted: October 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Essex, Event, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The gals from Ipswich Clambake dish out samples of chowder

If you’re tired of watching those judges on TV taste all that delicious food prepared by chefs, Essex Clam Fest is the place for you. We had a great time on Saturday sampling eight chowders prepared by local restaurants and voting on our favorite.

The lines were long, but the weather was great, and there was plenty to evaluate as we waited for our next sample. Although there was no chowder we didn’t like at all, there were definitely standouts. The ones that didn’t wow us included Lobsta Land (too watery, too much herb flavor) and J.T. Farnham’s (too thin, too buttery, too much pepper).

In the middle were Shea’s Riverside (large clams but a bit too heavy and perhaps too much nutmeg), Emerson Inn (made with salt pork for great flavor, but it overwhelmed the seafood a bit), and Woodmans (good consistency, good flavor, but mushy pototoes).

Our favorites were Ipswich Clambake (creamy but not thick, large clams, lots of perfectly-cooked potatoes, very good flavor) and Windward Grille (great seafood taste, perfect consistency, large chunks of potatoes and clams).

Windward Grille was also the winner of the people’s choice award. Speaking of awards, Periwinkles won the judges award, and it was one of our least favorite samples, so we’re going to disqualify ourselves on that one. Our sample was very thick and tasted burned, so we’re guessing we got a bad batch.

The tasting cost $5 and began at 12:00. We got there just about that time to be sure we’d be able to participate, but the tasting was still going strong until it ended at 2:00. Several of the restaurants brought 40 gallons of chowder!

With our bellies full, we walked the rest of the event, which included pony rides and other children’s activities, a variety of craft booths, and live music.

We were glad to see the Ipswich Ale Tapmobile, which carries eight taps ($4 per pint). Although their Pumpkin Ale sounded festive, we opted for the Stonecat Hefeweizen, which was bright and refreshing. Both Captain Dusty’s and Down River had ice cream stands set up. Along with the usual flavors, Dusty’s was serving samples of “cold clam chowder,” a truly unique eating experience. By the way, they’re opening for one day in December with holiday flavors like pumpkin pie and egg nog: 12/4 from noon to 4:00 at the Manchester location only.

We love Dusty’s, but Down River is our absolute favorite, and they did not let us down. They were serving large portions in their delicious waffle cups for $3, and their caramel apple flavor is to die for.

So if you have a secret desire to be a food judge, mark your calendars for next year’s festival, and in the meantime, get yourself to Windward Grille for a bowl of outstanding chowder.

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Quality and Price Make Petrillo’s a Standout

Posted: October 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Italian, Peabody, Petrillo's Italian Kitchen | Tags: , , | 5 Comments »

Many Italian restaurants tend to be reasonably priced, but we found Petrillo’s a particularly good value when we visited last weekend. No wonder the place was packed on a Sunday night.

With all tables full and no reservation, we ended up at the bar, which is located upstairs. The bar wasn’t particularly busy, so we received terrific service, but all of the tables nearby seemed to be similarly well attended.

We started with a delicious glass of sauvignon blanc ($8), a large Kettle One martini (a deal at $8), and the eggplant rollatini ($9). With very thin slices of perfectly cooked eggplant an just-slightly-sweet ricotta filling, the rollatini was one of the best renditions we’ve had, and it was easily enough for two.

Our entrees were equally satisfying. The chicken parmesan was crisp, moist, delicious, and accompanied by al dente pasta ($15). We took half of it home. We couldn’t finish the scallops positano, either: a large serving of toothsome risotto, four giant scallops, and just the right amount of fresh-cooked spinach to cut the richness of the other ingredients ($23).

We were too full for dessert or coffee, but we did share a glass of the house chianti, which had good flavor, especially for $7 a glass. We definitely recommend giving this Peabody gem a try—and a reservation is probably a good idea.

Petrillo’s Italian Kitchen
6 Foster Street, Peabody
(978) 977-5330
www.petrillosrestaurant.com

Petrillo's Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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15 Walnut Gift Certificate Winner!

Posted: October 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: 15 Walnut, Event, Hamilton | Tags: , | No Comments »

We want to thank everyone who took the time to enter this week’s giveaway. Our question was on your favorite go-to for winter comfort, and there were so many terrific answers that we’re feeling better about the upcoming winter already. We’ll be keeping toasty checking out your list of suggested restaurants.

Popular favorites included the The Franklin Cafe in Gloucester, 10 Center in Newburyport, and quite a few Salem spots. People like the fireside at both the Tavern in the Hawthorne Hotel and the Old Spot, and both Passage to India and Bella Verona were popular choices, with newcomer Greenland Cafe showing a big following. 62 Restaurant and Winebar was also a top mention, and while we’re not ready to reveal anything yet, those fans may want to keep an eye out for our next giveaway.

Drum roll, please…

To select a winner, we used the random number generator at Random.org, and the winning entry is #11! Hearty congratulations to Bill, who suggested soups from Farmer Brown’s in Middleton. He will receive a gift certificate worth $100 to 15 Walnut. (Bill, please e-mail us your mailing address and we’ll get the gift certificate right out to you. And don’t forget to let us know how you enjoyed your meal.)

Thank you so much to everyone for entering the giveaway. We are already looking forward to our next one, so stay warm, eat well, and keep an eye on the Dish!

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Weekend Picks: the Short Version

Posted: October 21st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Event | Tags: , | 3 Comments »

Wow, what a whirlwind week. Things have been crazy busy, but we wanted to let you know about a few things going on this weekend.

First off, you still have today and tomorrow to take advantage of Cape Ann Restaurant Week and get a terrific three course meal for only $25 per person.

On Saturday, The Wine ConneXtion in North Andover will be hosting a grand tasting event to celebrate their first year in business. They will be pouring more than 50 hand-selected wines from all over the world  with some great one-day special pricing on selected wines. The Food Network’s Tommy Grella, now director of restaurants for Salvatore’s, will be serving up culinary treats for a fun-fillled afternoon of food and wine. The tastings run throughout the afternoon, but if you want a spot for the food demos, RSVP to press@wineconnextion.com.

Also on Saturday is an event we are looking forward to, the 28th Annual Essex Clam Festival, which runs from 11:00 to 4:00 at Memorial Park in Essex. (Rain date is Sunday.)

The highlight of the day will be the Clam Chowder Tasting, a competition that pits area restaurants against one another to determine who serves the best chowder on Cape Ann. Several local restaurants are expected to serve up their favorite chowder recipes starting at 12:00 and ending at 2:00.

The chowder will be judged by Legal Seafoods President & CEO Roger Berkowitz, Senator Bruce Tarr, Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, Essex Town Selectman Jeff Jones, Chamber President Kathy Low, Amy Harnois of TD Bank, and local personality Ed Collard. The public will also have the opportunity to sample and vote on their favorite chowder. In addition to the chowder competition, there will be live entertainment, arts and craft tables, and children’s activities.

Lastly, we wanted to remind you that sign up for the Cape Ann Fresh Catch November season is underway. They’ve enhanced the weekly options, so you might be interested in taking a look.

Here are a few more weekend picks from a couple of our North Shore Bloggers Consortium pals:

The unstoppable Joey C has his picks here on Good Morning Gloucester.

The wonderful Jane Ward has some great ideas, including Flying Pumpkins over at Food and Fiction.

Choices from all over New England at The Two Palaverers.

Fabulous Abby shares her picks at 5th Joy.

Seth, our man in Lynn tells us what’s rockin’ there this weekend on Lynn Happens.

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Dish Giveaway: Win a Gift Certificate to 15 Walnut

Posted: October 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: 15 Walnut, American, Event, Hamilton | Tags: , , | 69 Comments »

North Shore Dish is excited to announce another terrific giveaway!

This time, we are giving away a gift certificate worth $100 from 15 Walnut in Hamilton. Recently awarded Best New Restaurant and Best Burger by North Shore Magazine, 15 Walnut is definitely a restaurant worth investigating. Chef Sam Hunt is dedicated to local sourcing for the freshest ingredients possible, and we think he’s doing a great job.  You can read about our lunch at 15 Walnut here. Since then, we have returned a few times and really enjoyed burgers and drinks at the bar.

How to enter

To enter, leave a comment on this post answering the following question: Now that the season is getting chilly, which North Shore restaurant is your favorite go-to for winter comfort, whether it’s for hearty fare or a toasty fireplace.

That’s all there is to it! Your answer has no bearing on who wins—we’d just love to hear your feedback.

Contest rules

Deadline for entries is midnight on Thursday, October 21, 2010. A winner will be chosen Friday, Oct 22 by a random number generator and notified by e-mail. You must enter a valid e-mail address with your comment. US residents only, one entry per person. Good luck!

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Salem’s New Mexican Choices a Let Down

Posted: October 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Comida, Howling Wolf, Mexican, Salem | Tags: , , | 18 Comments »

With so few choices for Mexican food on the North Shore, we were thrilled that two such places were opening in Salem within weeks of each other. In fact, we were so excited that we didn’t wait long before trying them and were disappointed. We had mediocre meals at both, although Comida’s food was overall better than Howling Wolf’s.

Howling Wolf is a large restaurant with an industrial feel. The decor is interesting, but the space felt uncomfortable to us, with the exception of a lively bar at one end serving beer, wine, and sangria.

The chips and guacamole ($4.50) were very good, with a nice kick to the guac. The shrimp quesadillas ($8.25) was also tasty, and we enjoyed the posole ($6.50) even though it wasn’t hot enough temperature-wise. But the burritos were very disappointing, with flavorless rice, watery tomatoes, and dry meat in the shredded beef ($6.25) and not much more appeal in the steak version ($7). The two tacos we tried also let us down; the fish was just okay ($3.25), and the pork with red chile marinade was too spicy for our palates ($2.50).

Chips and guacamole, pork taco and burrito from Howling Wolf

Comida is take-out rather than a restaurant, although it has a few counter stools and a cheery, appealing interior. The pork taco ($3.25) and the pork carnitas and steak burritos were very good (both $6.75). The burritos were large and included quality ingredients, and we’d definitely return for them.

One nice feature is a large list of burrito fillings that includes mole, pico de gallo, mango-corn salsa, guacamole, and queso sauce, among others. However, we had a bit of an ordering mix up–two of our party wanted their burritos without beans and assumed if they didn’t list beans among their desired fillings that the burritos would be bean-free. This was not the case; the steak burrito came with unrequested black beans, and the chicken burrito came with pinto beans ($6.50).

The quesadillas were similarly very heavy on black beans, and they were not the style we are used to: soft tortillas folded around ingredients rather than flat, crisp ones. We were also surprised by the chips and guacamole; the chips were stale and the guacamole portion was tiny. So was the side of mango-corn salsa, although for only .50, we shouldn’t complain. But the same can’t be said for the ensalda de comida ($4.50), which had lettuce, avocado, and queso fresco, tortilla strips that turned out to be crushed chips, avocado lime dressing that somehow managed to be without flavor, and a few steamed vegetables, similarly flavorless ($4.50).

We’re assuming that at least some of these missteps are due to the newness of both places. We plan to return at some point to test our theory, and we welcome comments about readers’ experiences in the meantime.

Chips and guacamole, pork taco and burrito from Comida

Comida
131 Essex St., Salem
(978) 594-8220
www.comidasalem.com

Comida on Urbanspoon

Howling Wolf
76 Lafayette St, Salem
(978) 744-WOLF
www.feedyourwolf.com

Howling Wolf on Urbanspoon

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Tastings and Fests: Our Weekend Picks

Posted: October 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Danvers, Event, Marblehead, Rockport, Salem, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

There are some terrific tasting events coming up this weekend, and even a few tonight. Shubie’s Marketplace in Marblehead has a special Graham Port and cheese tasting from 4:00 to 7:00 this evening.

If you’d rather check out offerings from local restaurants for a good cause, head on over to the Danversport Yacht Club where the Danvers Educational Enrichment Partnership holds its 12th annual Wine & Food Tasting from 6:00 to 9:30.

For more offerings from local eateries, Marblehead Chamber of Commerce hosts its Octoberfest on Friday evening, with a food and spirit tasting at the Corinthian Yacht Club from 7:00 to 9:00.

Saturday is a day of dueling festivals. First, Rockport will hold its HarvestFest which features a full day of activities, staring around 11:00 am. There will be a Local Fare Fair with all sorts of local foods, a cooking demonstration, a harvest lunch from Market Restaurant, and a seafood throwdown. Cape Ann Brewing company will be on hand offering tastes of some of their unique brews from 12:00 to 5:00. Sarah Kelly gives more insights into the festival in this video.

If you’d rather spend the afternoon navigating craft brews and fine wines, Salem HarvestFest is the place for you. Sponsored by Magic Hat and held at the Knights of Columbus in Salem, you can taste samples from participants like Cody Brewing, Classic Wine Imports, M.S. Walker, Mayflower Brewing, Turtle Creek Winery, Select Beverages, Still River Winery, Bay State Wines, Charles River Winery, Cape Ann Brewing, Wachusett Brewing Company, Ipswich/Mercury Brewing, Harpoon, Berkshire Brewing, Oskar Blues, Naragansett and Arborway, and Clown Shoes. There will be two sessions, the first from 2:00 to 4:30 and the second from 5:30 to 8:00.

Last but not least, don’t forget that Sunday marks the beginning of Cape Ann Restaurant Week. For six days, participating Cape Ann restaurants will offer a three-course dinner for $25.00 per person (not including beverage, tax, or gratuity). It’s a great opportunity to get out and try places that you’ve been meaning to or visit old favorites. Follow the link to their website for a list of participating eateries.

Up next, as usual, are additional weekend picks from some of our pals in the North Shore Bloggers Consortium.

Good Morning Gloucester brings you the best of Gloucester MA and surrounding communities. From the docks to the restaurants, the sporting fields to the art scene and anything in between, if it’s happening in Gloucester it’s generally covered on GMG.

Click here for Joey’s weekend picks

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Jane Ward writes fiction and is the author of Hunger (Forge, 2001) and The Mosaic Artist (to be released).  She is currently at work on her third novel, The Welcome Home.  She also writes about food – in a weekly blog called Food and Fiction, and as a contributing writer to the online regional food magazine, Local In Season – because she loves to cook and eat.  And so does everyone she knows.

Click Here for Author Jane Ward’s Weekend Picks

fifthjoyweb_500

5thjoy is a blog about the things that make life shimmer: Food, Fashion, Feathering the Nest and whatever glinting Flotsam floats our way.

Click Here For Abby Cahill O’Brien’s Fifth Joy Weekend Picks

The Two Palaverers are the husband and wife team of Rob and Laura Ciampa, two passionate New Englanders who have spent decades exploring the highways and byways of New England in search of regional character, culture and cuisine. Their goal is to recognize the people, places and things that exemplify the character of New England. Join them as they palaver about New England.

Click Here For The Weekend Picks From The Two Palaverers

At its core, LynnHappens.com is a place to find out what’s happening in Lynn. It features an events calendar, local weather, arts and events coverage, photo galleries, complete City Council videos, letters to the editor and more.

Click here are for LynnHappens.com editor Seth Albaum’s picks for the weekend

Food For Thought- Heather Atwood

As a painter and writer, Heather Atwood spent a lot of time waiting on tables in great restaurants. While struggling with color and line, she was also learning how to roast a great chicken, and what it means to balance textures in a dish. She’s been interested in good food ever since. Married, the mother of two daughters, Heather now lives in Rockport, Mass. and is the food columnist for the Gloucester Daily Times. She is featured regularly in Taste of the Times videos and her writing can also be seen in the Wednesday food section of the Times.

Click here for Heather Atwood’s Weekend Picks

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Why the Bar at Tryst is Our New Favorite Place

Posted: October 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Bistro, Drinks, Tryst | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

I can hear you now, saying ‘New? Tryst has been around for years.’ That’s true, and it has maintained a great reputation with dining cognoscenti the entire time.

Until a few years ago, Chef Peter Capalbo and his wife Amy Trabucco offered the only game around for diners seeking a certain level of cuisine. But in the past couple of years, the restaurant scene on the North Shore exploded. We’ve been busy trying to keep tabs on all the newcomers and hadn’t had a chance to check in on Tryst. Until this weekend, that is.

Saturday night, we were in the mood for a bar-side meal and had heard good things about Sean, the bartender at Tryst. A small, warm space with a bistro feel, the room was more welcoming than we had anticipated.

Snagging the last two stools, we were greeted not by Sean, but Ingrid, who was tending bar that night. She was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and didn’t bat an eye when I asked for a sidecar (this sounds like a simple request, but I can’t even count the local bartenders who don’t produce a proper one). The drink arrived perfectly made and extremely tasty.

We started with a roasted beet salad ($9) and the Hudson Valley foie gras ($14). The salad, with arugula and goat cheese in a red wine vinaigrette was good, but pretty standard. The fois gras, however, was excellent. Served with bits of grilled bread and slices of roasted apple, it was rich and savory.

We decided to forgo wine for another cocktail, although the wine list is nicely appointed, and we were interested to see that when our neighbors ordered a bottle of red, the bartender used an aerator and decanted the bottle it into a glass carafe.

The bar carries a good variety of spirits, some nicely obscure, and features Gloucester distillery Ryan & Wood’s Knockabout gin and Folly Cove rum. We chose a specialty cocktail on offer that evening made with the Knockabout, basil simple syrup, and mint. It was lovely, one of those drinks that tastes light and well blended but packs a punch.

The best tipple of the evening, though, was Sean’s manhattan. The house-made infused bourbon involves letting dried cherries steep in Knob Creek for six weeks. The results make the classic cocktail complex and layered without being too sweet.

Ordinarily, we never order roast chicken when dining out, because it’s one of those meals we make at home for a fraction of the cost. But after seeing several plates of the rosemary roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, and herbed pan sauce appear in front of other bar diners ($23), we gave into curiosity and decided to share the entrée. Brilliant decision on our part. Beautifully crisped on the outside, moist and flavorful on the inside, and complimented by lush sauce, this is roast chicken you dream about. While pricey for a chicken dinner, we would absolutely splurge on it again.

Despite not being huge fans of aperitifs and digestives, we toyed with the idea, and Ingrid joined the conversation with a wealth of information and an offer of a comparison taste-test of Aperol, Fernet Branca, and Carpano Antica. Although we found the beverages interesting, we opted instead for a brownie tart ($8) to end the evening, which arrived fresh and warm with a dollop of whipped cream. Homemade tasting and not too dense, it was tasty but not as memorable as the rest of the meal.

Tryst may not be one of the hot newcomers to the North Shore, but it surely remains among the best of the local dining scene.

Tryst
282 Cabot Street, Beverly
(978) 921- 2266
trystbeverly.com

Tryst Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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