Letting Out Your Good Girl at Hale Street

Posted: November 21st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Beverly, Casual/Pub Food, Hale Street Tavern, Seafood | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Let’s face it, if your significant other is a guy who favors burgers and steak tips when he dines out, you find yourself staring at a lot of salads or poorly cooked fish if you’re trying to eat healthy. Often, those are the only wholesome options at pub-style restaurants, which was why I was elated by my meal last weekend at Hale Street Tavern.

Of course, the delicious pomegranate martini ($10) might have had something to do with it. Okay, it’s possible there were two. Pomegranate juice, pomegranate liqueur, and vodka, that delicate ice float on top—so good.

My dining companion enjoyed his beverage, too (Stella Artois on tap, $5), along with a large bowl of scallop chowder ($7). I went with the hot girl sushi roll, featuring spicy tuna, salmon, escolar (white tuna), and jalapeño salsa ($12). I’ve eaten lots of sushi, and this was the best spicy tuna I’ve had. There was tons of it in each piece, and it had just the right amount of heat, no extra wasabi needed.

I was equally happy with my entrée, sesame crested salmon with sake ginger glaze, sticky rice, and green/yellow squash cooked just right ($20). I ordered the salmon rare, and it was outstanding. Meltingly tender with an absolutely delicious, very delicate crust. The sticky rice was also great, and something you don’t see often on restaurant menus.

Not surprisingly, my dining companion enjoyed his half-pound burger with cheese ($10, and there’s a full-pound version for $15) and hand-cut fries. Since I was being so virtuous with my meal, I felt justified stealing a few fries. I’ve gotta say, they were worth the calories.

We sat at the bar, and the service was friendly and attentive. For a Sunday night there was a pretty good crowd, but the vibe was low-key and friendly. Other nights have advantages at Hale Street as well, including a sushi prix fixe for $19 on Mondays, burger mania on Tuesdays, 35-cent wings on Wednesdays, and prime rib for $17 on Thursdays. By the way, there are several cooked-fish sushi options for the those that don’t do raw, as well as an oyster selection that changes weekly according to what’s freshest.

Hale Street Tavern
717 Hale St, Beverly Farms
(978) 922-9232

Hale Street Tavern on Urbanspoon


Around the World and Around the Corner: The Inn at Castle Hill’s Celebrity Chef Series

Posted: November 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

They say it takes a village to raise a family. From our experience last week at The Inn at Castle Hill, something similar goes into creating an outstanding meal. We were invited to a special chef’s dinner at this charming spot in Ipswich. Just down the hill from the Crane Estate, both are run by the Trustees of Reservations, and profits from the meal ($125 per person) went to the Trustees.

Cocktails in front of a welcome fire in the tavern.

The chef in this case was Robert Grant, chef de cuisine at The Butcher Shop, one of Barbara Lynch’s many Boston eateries. So it was perhaps no surprise that one of the passed hors d’oeuvres, served in the inn’s cozy tavern, was pied de cochon. What was interesting was how fantastic this cube of pork goodness was, and we later learned from the chef that it was topped with mustard imported from Menton, France, the inspiration for Lynch’s newest restaurant. The other pork offering, salt pork bacon on a sourdough toast also had an interesting topper: a sprinkling of madeira-glazed chestnuts.

The non-meat offerings were just as delicious, including a spoonful of butternut squash risotto and a square of puff pastry topped with honey and caramelized onions. Grant decided to make the risotto after seeing the gorgeous squash that afternoon at Appleton Farms, a Trustees operation a few miles from the inn.

After the cocktail hour, which included an open bar, we moved from the tavern to the inn’s well-appointed dining room. Along with the first wine of the meal, a pinot noir from Rodney Strong, we were served brioche and sourdough bread, crispy kale, and a potage of Long Island Cheese pumpkin. The soup was hot, creamy, and swirled with luscious pumpkin-seed oil from Austria. Instead of butter, we spread the bread with outstanding honey from Champlain Valley Apiaries.

Chef Robert Grant discusses the meal.

The main course of rib eye steak from Appleton Farms was served with a wonderful parsnip puree, delectable baby vegetables from Appleton, and a dolcetto d’alba from Acheri. The rib of the steak had been braised on the bone and was heart-stoppingly tender and flavorful. The t-bone was cooked to a lovely pink but was very dense, a texture we attribute to its grass-fed nature.

Continuing to play on his strengths, Chef Grant ended with a cheese course rather than a sweet one. He brought along Stephanie Santos, cheese buyer for Menton, who described the four cheeses we sampled. There was a fruity Brebis Pardou from France, a mild Toma Tre Latte from Italy, a Lake’s Edge goat’s milk with ash center from Blue Ledge Farm in Vermont, and a Stichelton from England. The latter was a rare treat: the flavor of stilton but more creamy and with less bite. As a final surprise, the cheese course was paired not with wine but with a glass of crisp Midas Touch ale from Dogfish Head.

We thoroughly enjoyed the evening, which combined good company (foodies of all ages), great food, abundant wine, and locally sourced products with a wealth of information from Grant and Santos, who fielded questions about ingredients and cooking methods with knowledge and patience. More information about the next dinner of the series (now in its third year), featuring Sam Hunt from 15 Walnut in Hamilton on December 2, is here.


A Week to Find Wines for the Holidays

Posted: November 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Drinks, Event, Gloucester, Salem | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

There are so many things to worry about when you’re planning your holiday dinners, including what wines to serve. Luckily, there are several wine tastings this week to help you with that task.

Tomorrow evening, Eric Olson and Salem Wine Imports once again host their fabulous Grand Tasting from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Old Town Hall in Salem. There will be approximately 80 wines to sample with light appetizers and live music. This is a terrific event. We attended last year and not only discovered some new favorites but learned a thing or two as well.

The best part is that tickets are $30, and all profits from event go to The Salem Athenaeum, Historic Salem, and Historic New England, so you can support local causes while picking out your holiday wines. Call Salem Wine Imports for ticket information at (978) 741-9463.

If you’re farther north, Duckworth Beach Gourmet will be holding a more intimate tasting tomorrow evening in Gloucester. Hosted by Red White Boston, they will be pouring sparklers including Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, and Crémant de Bourgogne. The shop carries some excellent cheeses and will choose some to pair with the wine. The event is free and runs from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

If you can’t make either of these, Henry’s Wine Cellar in Beverly will be holding their Grand Holiday Tasting on November 13 from 2:00 to 5:00. They’ll have both premium and value wines on hand to fit any budget, and the folks from Henry’s Market Catering will be there passing appetizers. They do a great job with prepared foods for the holidays, so you may find inspiration for both wine and food.

Also on Saturday from 4:00 to 7:00, Leary’s Fine Wine and Spirits in Newburyport is hosting their Grand Autumn Tasting, and they’ve got the entertainment angle covered. The folks from The River WXRV 92.5, will be there to host the shindig with giveaways and raffles. Leary’s will offer dozens of bottles to try and feature hors d’oeuvres by Seaglass Ocean Front Restaurant and a turkey carving table from Tendercrop Farms. They’ll also be giving away two $25 gift certificates, one to Capri Seaside Dining and one to Seaglass Restaurant.

Heck, even if you’re not entertaining this holiday season, these events are all worth checking out.


Gloucester’s Latitude 43 Unveils New Sibling: Minglewood Tavern

Posted: November 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Drinks, Gloucester, News | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

We were a bit confused when we started hearing mention of Minglewood Tavern. We knew the bar at Latitude 43 in Gloucester was undergoing renovation, but this sounded like a whole new entity. We decided to investigate and gave Brian Eastman, the bar manager, a call.

It turns out that Minglewood Tavern, which takes it’s name from the Grateful Dead song New Minglewood Blues, is still attached to Lat 43 but has been given a separate identity and a complete makeover. This isn’t surprising given the fact that both establishments are owned by Mark McDonough’s Serenitee Restaurant Group (previously North Shore Restaurant Group). McDonough is well known for his creativity and fearlessness in retooling eateries to better serve local neighborhoods.

Eastman told us the team essentially gutted the entire tavern and outfitted it with features that make it even more funky and comfortable. The centerpiece is a large bar custom built by Walker Creek Furniture of Essex and finished with salvaged 205-year-old barn boards. Another new feature is a beautiful stone hearth built with local granite that serves as inspiration for the new menu, which Eastman describes as creative pub fare. Flatbread pizzas and other oven-baked items like enchiladas and lasagna will be on offer. Other menu items, like the sushi that Lat 43 is known for, will still be available.

There is a full roster of weekly specials and events planned, and Eastman is especially excited about Thursdays, when various brewers will be on hand to meet and talk beer. And speaking of beer, Minglewood is serious about it; they’ll offer twenty brews on tap.

Minglewood opens tomorrow night, and they’ll have a grand opening celebration starting at 6:00 pm with tastes from the new menu and live music from the local band Phat Maxx. We heard a rumour that Good Morning Gloucester’s infamous Joey C will be on hand mixing up his signature drink, the Hop Skip and Go Naked, which is served in a mason jar. How can you pass that up?

Minglewood Tavern
25 Rogers Street, Gloucester
(978) 281-0223


Weekend Picks, November 4-7

Posted: November 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Event, News | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The weekend is almost upon us, and we’re back with some ideas to keep you busy.

First off, tonight the Trustees of the Reservations hold the first of their 3rd Annual Celebrity Chef Dinner Series at Castle Hill hosted by the Trustees of the Reservations. Tonight’s dinner features Chef Robert Grant of The Butcher Shop in Boston, and the Dec. 2 dinner will feature Chef Sam Hunt of 15 Walnut in Hamilton.

On Sunday, there are fun things happening all over the North Shore. In Peabody, you’ll find the North Shore Bazaar 2010. While it’s not limited to food and drink, there will be more than 25 vendors offering organic, fair trade, locally resourced, or locally produced gifts and services. Lunch will be available as well.

Rockport Music is hosting a wine tasting at 4:00 on Sunday, offering attendees the opportunity to sample nine of the best French, German, and Californian wines, accompanied by a culinary creation, and then evaluate and vote on the best overall pairing of wine and food. California’s Benchmark Wine Group will lead the tasting, and Chef Ron Weisheit and Pastry Chef Rhonda Weisheit of Newburyport’s Pralines & Pepper will provide the food and some insight into the pairings.

Also on Sunday evening, the 17th Annual Taste of Lynnfield will be held at the Peabody Marriott, hosted by Lynnfield Educational Trust (LET), a non-profit that provides financial support to enhance the educational experience for all children in the Lynnfield Public schools.

This year, attendees will have the opportunity to sample the culinary talents of some outstanding area restaurants, including The Blue Ox (Lynn), 15 Walnut (Hamilton), Masa (Woburn), Jalapeno’s Mexican Restaurant (Gloucester), Turbine Wine Bar (Lynn), The Red Rooster (Lynnfield), T&L Wine Cellar (Lynnfield and Peabody), Cafe Jag’s (Wakefield), FINZ (Salem), New England Beverage (North Reading), Focaccia (Wilmington), Guilio’s Bakery (Wakefield), Mount Vernon at the Ship (Lynnfield), and Carrabba’s Italian Grill (Peabody).

Last but far from least, don’t forget that Sunday marks the first night of Salem Restaurant Week. Salem has had an unprecedented number of restaurants open this year, and if you’ve been itching to get out and try some of the new kids on the block, this is your chance. The deals are good enough that after you try something new, you can go back to an old favorite as well.

And here, as always, are the weekend picks from our pals in the North Shore Bloggers Consortium.

Abby shares her picks, including an apples and wine fest in Ipswich, over at 5th Joy.

The wonderful Jane Ward tells us what’s up in Newburyport and Amesbury in Food and Fiction.

Choices from all over New England from The Two Palaverers.

Media giant Seth gives up the best of Lynn at Lynn Happens.

Joey’s got all that’s going on in Gloucester over at Good Morning Gloucester


Salem Restaurant Week and a Month-Long Giveaway

Posted: November 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Event, News, Salem | Tags: , | No Comments »

We’re thrilled to see that Salem Restaurant Week, which starts this Sunday, November 7 and runs through Thursday the 11th, is bigger than ever this year. The list of participating restaurants is here at the Chamber of Commerce site, and it includes many of our favorites (like 62 Restaurant and Wine Bar, Bella Verona, and The Lobster Shanty) and two that are at the top of our list to try (Green Land Café and Café Polonia).

In addition to the three-course prix-fixe dinner $25 (not including drinks, taxes, or gratuities) restaurants offered in past years, some participants are offering a two-course menu for $15. Now that’s a deal.

To add to the fun, Destination Salem is giving away almost $1,000 in restaurant gift certificates to Salem restaurants. Every day this month, Kate Fox will post a picture of one of the participating restaurants on its Facebook page. The first 50 people to tag themselves in the picture will be entered into a random drawing for a gift certificate for that restaurant.

For more information, click over to Destination Salem or go to their Facebook page.