From Lunch to Brunch to Gourmet Dinners, We’ve Got Plenty of Ways to Celebrate Mom

Posted: May 7th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 62 Restaurant & Winebar, Blue Ox, brunch, Event, Finz, Nathaniel's at the Hawthorne Hotel, Victoria Station | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Forgot Mother’s Day is this Sunday and scrambling to make plans? We’ve got a quick round-up of brunch ideas as well as some less traditional options.

If delighting in a little taste of everything is mom’s style, there are several buffet options. Salem’s Victoria Station is featuring breakfast favorites as well as a carving station and plenty of seafood. And cocktails, of course. Perhaps a “Mom’osa” is in order? ($30 per person, $15 for kids,children under five eat free.)

Is mom a fan of oysters? Next door at Finz, the offerings include a raw bar along with a full buffet and the tasty-sounding waffles with blueberry whipped cream or banana encrusted salmon over coconut jasmine rice. ($39.99 per person, $15.99 for children 12 and under.)

A few blocks away, the Hawthorne Hotel will make mom feel like royalty. Their spread is available all day, with a change in focus at 3:00 from breakfast items to dinner. The veggie options look plentiful, including non-traditional salads like red-white-and-green salad with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, edamame, and fresh basil and a sweet-and-spicy cucumber salad with tomatoes, bell peppers, and red onion. The make-your-own strawberry shortcake will appeal to the kids in the group. ($42.95 adults; $2 per year of age for children.)

Newburyport’s 10 Center wants to ensure mom enjoys herself, too. In addition to an extensive buffet with dishes like stuffed french toast and lobster mac and cheese, they are offering a complimentary mimosa to each mother. ($40 per person, 10:00 to 3:00.)

A reliable favorite of many moms is the Emerson Inn by the Sea in Rockport for their always-beautiful grand buffet. Live piano music and ocean views accompany offerings like a smoked salmon, trout and mackerel display; chilled salad of shrimp, clams, mussels and calamari; and roasted garlic and gorgonzola encrusted black angus sirloin. ($49 per adult; $24.50 for children ages 3-10; 10:00 to 2:30.)

For those who would rather forgo brunch and treat mom to a luscious lunch or dinner, several terrific restaurants have special menu items on offer.

62 Restaurant and Wine Bar in Salem has a special menu just for mom from 11:00 to 9:00. In addition to regular menu items, Chef Tony Bettencourt will tempt you with crostini topped with whipped ricotta, roasted black mission figs, and aged balsamic vinegar and grilled lamb chops with zucchini, black olives, roasted tomato, crumbled feta, Sardinian couscous, and basil.

Lynn’s Blue Ox has put together a three-course meal for mom that has us salivating.
The pan-roasted cod with spring pea risotto, oven dried tomatoes, fava beans, pea tendril salad, and truffle vinaigrette and the strawberry rhubarb tart with strawberry and mint champagne sauce and whipped cream are calling our names. The special meal is $44 per person, available from 12:00 to 6:00.

Ceia in Newburyport will feature special selections such as a luxe steak and lobster benedict; spaghetti with black garlic, mint, and serrano chili; and shrimp with linguica, fingerling potatoes, kale, and a farm egg.

Last but not least, if the celebrated lady in your life loves eating out, our friends at Dinner Dealer have the perfect gift: a deck of restaurant-discount cards costs $25 and provides more than $300 in savings to North Shore restaurants ($1 from each sale is donated to a local food pantry). And if you contact them in the next few days, Dinner Dealer will throw in a free mini pampering kit with treats like chocolates and skincare products from local, women-owned companies.

Looks like there are plenty of options for treating your mom, grandmom, stepmom, godmom or anybody else to a great meal this weekend. Remember to call ahead for availability and that tax, tip and drinks aren’t generally included in the price, and enjoy!

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Digging Out From Nemo: What’s Open Today

Posted: February 9th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 5 Corners Kitchen, Amesbury, Beverly, Event, Grand Trunk Imports, Hungry Betty's, Lynn, Marblehead, Newburyport, Rolly's Tavern on the Square, Salem, Swampscott | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

We hope everyone is safe and warm and starting to dig out from this crazy mess the blizzard has dumped across the North Shore. Some folks are without power, and as of this writing the driving ban is still in effect in Massachusetts, so a hot meal or a cold cocktail may be hard to come by unless you can walk, snowshoe or ski to a local establishment. Most markets and restaurants are closed today, we’d like to help out by listing which places are currently open or will be serving dinner tonight.

We’ll keep this as a running list, so please feel free to contact (email@northshoredish.com, @northshoredish on twitter) us with updates!

Updated Saturday February 9, 2013 at 7:44PM

Amesbury

• Barking Dog Bar & Grill is open
• Phat Cats Bistro will be open for dinner

Beverly

• Chianti will be open, live entertainment still pending
• E.J. Cabots is open
• CitySide Diner is open their regular hours.
• Cielito Lindo will be open for dinner

Essex

• The Farm Bar and Grill is open tonight

Gloucester

• Cape Ann Brewing Pub will be open at 6:30pm…bar only. Kitchen is closed
• Seaport Grille is open

Ipswich

• Christopher’s Table is open and has live jazz

Lynn

• Tatiana’s is open
• The Blue Ox opens at 5PM
• Rolly’s Tavern plans to open at 4pm

Marblehead

• Hayley’s Wine and Market Café is open
• The Landing is open
• 5 Corners Kitchen will be open at 5pm for dinner
• Maddies is open.
• 3 Cod Tavern will be open for lunch and dinner
• Hungry Betty’s will be open at 4PM

Newburyport

• Mission Oak Grill is open for dinner
• Brine will be serving dinner after 3PM
• Ceia Kitchen + Bar will be open at 3PM
• Enzo will be open for dinner at 5PM
• Andiamo will have the bar open at 5 and dining at 6PM
• The Grog opens at 5PM and Mardi Gras is ON
• Grand Trunk Market potentially opening at 1PM today

Peabody

• Maki Sushi is open
• Bill & Bobs Roast Beef will be open at 6PM

Salem

• Salem Beer Works is open
• Sushi Garden is open and DELIVERING
• The Grapevine opens at 6PM
• 43 Church is open and WILL have live music
• Victoria Staion and the Boathouse are open, with fires roaring
• Pamplemousse is open
• 43 Church will be open at 5Pm
• Bill & Bobs Roast Beef will be open at 6PM
• The Tavern at the Hawthorne Hotel is open, with roaring fire.
• O’Neill’s will be open at 4 and their Black Heat Ball will go on as planned.
• Witches Brew café open at noon
• Gulu Gulu will open at 4PM
• In a Pig’s Eye will not be open for lunch, but will open later for dinner.
• Village Tavern open their regular hours, 11 – 1AM
• Howling Wolf will be open at 5PM

Swampscott

• Red Rock Bistro opens today at 4PM

6:56 PM Additional: Swampscott Patch just reported that the following take out places are open and delivering

China Green
781-203 Burrill St Swampscott, MA 01907
(781) 592-5357

Captain Pizza
3 Railroad Ave Swampscott, MA 01907
(781) 593-1568

Cindy’s Pizza
653 Humphrey St Swampscott, MA 01907
(781) 599-0358

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Fresh, Fast, and Fabulous

Posted: December 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Bakery, Breakfast, Cafe, Daily Harvest Cafe, Danvers, Vegitarian/Vegan | No Comments »

We love the idea of fast casual, but we usually find the food sub-par, particularly the freshness of the ingredients. We found just the opposite at a recent lunch in Danvers’ Daily Harvest Café. To be blunt, this place is what we wish Panera Bread was.

We had soup, sandwiches, and a sweet treat, and all exceeded our standards. The roasted vegetable soup ($3.99 for a cup) was hot and full of flavor. It was also full of delicious vegetables.

The turkey melt includes grilled asparagus, caramelized onion, provolone cheese, and honey mustard ($8.49). It’s a good-sized sandwich served on harvest wheatberry bread with all-natural turkey that is not your typical restaurant/deli fare. The Thai wrap is also generously sized, with huge pieces of white-meat chicken; moist Jasmine rice; carrots, cucumber, and peanuts for crunch; and light peanut sauce ($7.99). We appreciated the sandwiches came with a choice of carrots or apple slices in lieu of the ubiquitous chips.

There are a lot of things to like about the menu, including four or five soup specials each day, vegetarian and vegan options, a breakfast menu, a kids selection not full of processed foods, and coffee drinks like chai latte and caramel macchiato. The prices are on the high side for lunch, but you pay almost as much for inferior ingredients served by surly staffers at other fast casual places.

We were tempted by the cheesecake brownies at the counter, as well as the good-looking muffins, but we somehow couldn’t resist trying a frosted cinnamon bun ($3.25), which not surprisingly was fresh, not overly sweet, and delicious.

The next time you need something wholesome and delicious in the Danvers area, definitely head for the Daily Harvest.

Daily Harvest Café
103 High St, Danvers
(978) 777-4123
www.dailyharvestcafe

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More Than Just a Cheap Date, Rolly’s Tavern May Have the North Shore’s Best Dining Deal

Posted: October 26th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: American, Casual/Pub Food, Lynn, Rolly's Tavern on the Square | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

When was the last time you had dinner for two, including prime rib and a bottle of wine, with the tab coming to just $30? Certainly not in this decade.

But let’s back up a bit. We lunch with Corey Jackson, charming champion of the Lynn arts scene and Managing Director of Arts After Hours, on a semi-regular basis, and a few weeks ago he suggested Rolly’s Tavern in Wyoma Square.

The restaurant, helmed by Chef Rolly Hayes and his wife, Wendy Meninno Hayes, opened in 2005 and recently underwent a major renovation. In fact, the project continues as they enlarge through the rear of the space. The place is casual and welcoming with a large bar graced with plenty of TVs for sports enthusiasts.

At lunch, Corey opted for the famous grilled ham and cheese sandwich, which Boston Globe Magazine listed as one of Boston’s 45 Best Sandwiches. This childhood fave, served on white or wheat with a side of fries, was savory and satisfying.

I chose the Rolly’s burger, a half-pound of Black Angus grilled to order, served with a side of fries ($9). Talk about a seriously good burger—juicy on the inside with a nice char outside and plenty of toppings.

I would have gone back for the burger alone, but what caught my attention were the weekly specials. Monday features a two-for-one special on the burgers, and Tuesday and Wednesday host the aforementioned dinner deal: two entrees and a bottle of wine for $30. The specials list includes a variety of entrées, some of which are higher end and add $4 or $5 to the overall price. Rolly’s posts the menus for that evening on their Facebook page.

We returned on Tuesday night, when the menu included a prime rib au jus, and we opted for the queen cut at $16 (the king cut is $19). Although the butternut squash ravioli in a whiskey cream sauce was tempting, we opted to try the chicken pot pie at $14.

Both entrees were hearty comfort food, perfect for a chilly evening. The prime rib was tender and flavorful, and the vegetable sides were a step above standard pub fare. The mashed red bliss potatoes had great texture, rich but not overly creamy, and the steamed green beans and carrots had a nice crunch to them.

The all-white-meat pot pie offered an appetizing roasted chicken flavor, was topped with a lovely flaky puff pastry, and was accompanied by a fresh garden salad.

The wine included in the deal is Salmon Creek, which is available in chardonnay, white zin, pinot grigio, merlot, or cabernet. Also available for a $3 add are the wines from Lynn’s own Urban Wine Project.

Whether you’re looking for an inexpensive date night or just want to relax after work while someone else does the cooking, we think you’re going to be hard pressed to find a better deal than Rolly’s midweek specials.

Rolly’s Tavern on the Square
338 Broadway, Lynn
781-599-2160
www.rollystavern.com

Rolly's Tavern on the Square on Urbanspoon

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Sundays at Reds: New Location, Same Tasty Breakfast

Posted: October 23rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: American, Breakfast, brunch, Peabody, Reds Kitchen + Tavern | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Having been to Red’s in Salem on many lazy Sunday mornings, we were excited to check out their latest incarnation in Peabody (on Rt. 1). It’s an enormous space but quite welcoming, with diner-style counters up front and family-style tables elsewhere, plus a nice-looking bar.

We arrived around 12:30 and were a bit disappointed to learn that lunch is not served on Sunday; the restaurant moves right from breakfast to dinner (starting at 2:00). Unlike their sister restaurant, this location serves alcohol and is open until 10pm Sunday through Wednesday and 11pm Thursday through Saturday.

Nonetheless, we ordered up some of our breakfast favorites and thoroughly enjoyed them. The pancakes have got to be one of the best deals around, with three platter-sized fluffy cakes for $6.25. We had the chocolate chip, but the blueberry and banana are also delicious. Served with a side of bacon or sausage ($2.50), it’s enough food to last until bedtime.

Two eggs with thick-cut Canadian bacon, home fries, and rye toast also hit the spot ($6.50). The home fries are crispy outside, soft inside, and well seasoned, without being too heavy on the salt or garlic.

Like just about everything on the menu, the omelets are a great value: a huge portion of eggs with generous fillings. We enjoyed the tried-and-true Western with cheese ($6.25) and the more unusual fresh spinach with feta ($6.25). You can create your own concoction from a variety of ingredients and cheeses.

Unfortunately, the breakfast specials that day sounded great and were sold out when we arrived. Guess we’ll have to get up earlier if we want to sample the lobster benedict or one of the other benedict-style offerings. We managed to make do with a respectable waffle ($5.50), bacon, and a tasty Absolute Bloody Mary ($9.00).

The Sunday dinners we saw on the tables as we left looked tempting, so we’ll definitely plan a return trip to try the chicken pot pie ($9.50) and the rib-eye steak ($24).

Reds Kitchen + Tavern
131 Newbury St, Peabody
(978) 531-7337
www.redskitchenandtavern.com

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Salem Food Tours an Experience to Savor

Posted: October 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: 43 Church, Comida, Event, Life Alive, Milk & Honey, Salem, Scratch Kitchen | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

At this time of year, it may be hard to remember that there is more to Salem than the costumed crowds and traffic tangles. The city is, in fact, a terrific destination for food lovers of all sorts. From upscale dining to hole-in-the-wall take out, candy shops, bakeries, funky bars, and ethnic eateries, this historic seaport has it all.

And if you are looking for someone to help navigate you through Salem’s wonderful world of food, there’s no one better than Karen Scalia. Charming, fun, and incredibly knowledgeable, she is a delight. Combining her skills as a Salem tour guide with her background in event planning and passion for food, Scalia created Salem Food Tours, which launched in September.

We were lucky enough to tag along on a tour last week and right off the bat were impressed with the careful thought and organization that goes into creating each tour. With an initial email of helpful instructions, a warm welcome as though you are an old friend, and a well-planned sequence of tastings, Scalia has put together a memorable experience for tourists and locals alike.

With many shops and restaurants as partners, each tour varies, depending on what is going on that day. Thursday tours can include the Salem Farmer’s Market, and vegan tours are available. Scalia will even create a private tour for your special event.

Our tour started off with a bit of Salem history as we headed into Salem Spice/The Picklepot, where the enthusiastic David Bowie (no, not that one) gave us a crash course in Salem’s spice trade and the history of salt and pepper. We compared four peppers and seven salts, and while we enjoyed the pink peppercorns, the Pacific Smoked Sea Salt had us swooning.

The next stop was Scratch Kitchen where Chef Bill Fogarty took time out from the busy lunch crowd to talk to us about his house-smoked meats and locally sourced fare. He treated us to a classic old style New England Clam Chowder with a clean, fresh taste that immediately brought me back to my grandmother’s kitchen. We also sampled incredibly tasty hand-cut, bacon-dusted French fries with house-made ketchup. Yes, I said bacon-dusted. Scratch sells bacon popcorn, too.

We popped into Comida for a quick but appealing tasting of rice and beans with a choice of meat and homemade salsa and pickled red onions. Then it was on to one of our favorite shops, Milk and Honey, to talk cheese and chocolate with Sharon and Bill. Everyone’s favorite seemed to be the Shallot Hannabells from Shy Brothers Farm in Westport—creamy, tart, and savory. And of course Somerville’s Taza Chocolate is always a hit.

We stepped next door to Salem Wine Imports, where we chatted with owner and wine expert Eric Olsen. (Whether you are a wine neophyte or an experienced oenophile, do yourself a favor and sign up for his email newsletters. Thoughtful prose and lovely photos along with the current sales make them an inbox treat.) Eric handed us over to the very capable Chris, who poured three Italian wines and discussed the region and terroir and possible table wines for the upcoming holiday season.

We tore ourselves away with some difficulty but were glad we did when we ended up at Life Alive. A new favorite of the Dish, it was a treat to chat with manager Christina about the workings of the café and the vision behind the food. We sampled the Swami bowl with kale, tamari almonds, raisins, carrots, and broccoli, over brown rice with a curry miso sauce that was truly inspired. Top that off with a taste of locally made vegan truffles, and you’re in heaven.

You would think by this point we would be too full to either move or eat another bite, but the tour was well paced, and we happily moved on to the finale, at 43 Church. This was a lovely end to the tour. We relaxed at a table in the bar, were offered another wine taste and several fabulous small plates.

I have to say that when 43 Church emerged from the Lyceum last year, its upscale surf and turf type menu didn’t really excite us. Since then, Chef Doug Papows has taken over in the kitchen, and if what we tasted during the tour is any indication, his creative vision is worth revisiting this Church Street eatery.

The extremely tender lamb osso buco, tucked inside handkerchief pasta (all the pasta is house-made by sous chef Kirk Vanacore) accompanied by roasted grape tomatoes and spinach with a crumble of feta cheese was a savory, mouthwatering combination. But my favorite was a cassoulet, perfect for the autumn weather. The bean stew was rich and velvety, created with a barnyard’s worth of meat for flavor, including braised lamb and pork, boar and pheasant sausages, duck confit and a fried duck tenderloin.

Pastry chef Saskia Nugent was on duty that afternoon and mystified us with her dessert. How can a moist dense-looking slice of chocolate cake with satiny frosting and rich raspberry ganache be light as a feather? This decadent enigma was the perfect end to our afternoon of gastronomy.

Because every tour varies, your experience won’t match ours exactly, but we can guarantee that Karen Scalia is the gal you want to have show you her town. From her infectious smile and attention to detail to her vast expertise on Salem’s history and food, Karen has made Salem Food Tours an experience food fans from near and far will savor.

Salem Food Tours
Salem, MA
salemfoodtours.com
978-594-8811

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Dish Tid Bits: What’s New on the North Shore

Posted: August 22nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The restaurant scene on the North Shore is always changing, and the past six months have seen quite a few openings and closings. We’ve put together a list of the goings on, and we’re excited to have so many new places to explore.

Last year, it seemed Salem had a new restaurant opening every week. This year Marblehead wins the prize for the amount of changes and new businesses. Five Corners Kitchen has finally reopened after the devastating fire last year, having enlarged into the former Terry’s Ice Cream space to include a bigger dining room and extensive bar. Clearly, residents were ecstatic to have it back—the place has been filled every time we’ve driven by. Terry’s, which has moved down the street to Atlantic Ave., has yet to re-open.

Around the corner, in the former Pellino’s location on Washington Street, Italian eatery Yannalfo’s Ristorante, owned by Andover resident Brett Yannalfo, is slated to open soon. Joey D’s Italian Grill, serving pasta and seafood, has taken over the Hooked space on Pleasant St, across from the new Warwick Place development. The owners of Warwick Place are working with a developer to put a new high-end restaurant in place, but negotiations seem to have stalled after their request for outdoor seating was shot down by the town.

Hungry Betty’s has been sold to Jason Rakauskas, who has vowed to keep the name and atmosphere, making a few changes to the menu. Kitsen Table in Village Plaza has morphed into Soall Bistro, a Vietnamese café about which we’ve heard some good things.

Brothers Felix and Jose Bracamontes, previously of Mexico Lindo in Melrose, have just opened the doors of a new Mexican restaurant, Casa Carona, in the former Sablone’s space on Smith street. While expected soon, they have no liquor license yet.

Marbleheaders have also been able to indulge their sweet cravings with the opening of two bakeries and a candy shop. Captn’s Bakery on Washington St. offers breads, cookies, pastries, and cannolis, while Just Fabulous Custom Cakes and Sugarscapes offers custom-made, special-occasion confections. The Candy Pop Sweet Shoppe is similar to an old-fashioned penny-candy vendor but also sells snack mixes, popcorn, and fancy baked goods.

In Lynn, we were sad to hear that Turbine Wine Bar has closed. We really liked their atmosphere but hear the landlord was difficult to work with. Le Petite Café, serving breakfast and lunch, has moved into the former Fernandos space on Munroe Street. A Greek-themed family restaurant, Olympic Gardens, has opened on Buffum St., and New Style Asian, featuring an extensive menu of both traditional Asian and vegan fare, has opened on Boston Street.

Our favorite new concept in Salem is Flying Saucer Pizza, created by the Gulu Gulu folks when they took over the space next door, vacated by Uppercrust Pizza. While we have yet to sample the pies (high on our to-do list) we admittedly geek out over the sci-fi theme and fun movie and TV references.

Green Land Café has been sold to new owner Nolo Opus and is closed for renovation. The new incarnation, to be named Opus, will likely open in November.

43 Church has a new chef, a slightly more wallet-friendly menu, and is open for lunch. Not to be confused with Tavern on the Square or The Tavern at the Hawthorne Hotel, Village Tavern is poised to open soon in that odd space in Museum Place Mall previously occupied by Lakay Island and others. Speaking of Museum Place, that’s where 3 Potato 4, the baked fries place we wrote about a while back, has moved.

And the game of North Shore musical chairs continues. Last year, Brodie’s Pub in Peabody was sold to Michael Votto, who now plans to open a second Brodie’s location in Salem, where the Seaport Café was. Joe Deisely, who originally owned Brodie’s, has taken over 282 Cabot St. in Beverly and opened EJ Cabot’s, which looks to be more pub-like than its predecessor, Tryst. Former Tryst owner and chef Peter Capalbo is now the chef at the re-tooled Wenham Tea House. Got it?

In Peabody, the new Red’s Kitchen and Tavern is in full swing in their Rt. 1 location and Stonewood Tavern has opened on Lynnfield St.

In Hamilton, the Black Cow is still closed for renovations, but it will hopefully reopen in September. 15 Walnut has a new chef and just released a new late-summer menu.

Ally’s Eatery, a new sandwich take-out shop in Rockport has earned rave reviews. According to our friend Heather Atwood, Ally’s “has elevated a panini and salad eaten on a bench to fine dining.”

Our must-try short list also includes Enx Dadulas’ Ohana on Main Street in Gloucester. The upscale New American cuisine spot has been attracting diners in droves since it opened this spring. Also making waves in Gloucester is the nightlife at newly opened Mile Marker 1, which offers a waterside deck, live entertainment, and, if you arrive by boat, free dockage with your restaurant receipt.

Brown Sugar by the Sea, a relative of Boston’s Brown Sugar has replaced Andaman Thai Restaurant in the Tannery in Newburyport and has already garnered some great reviews. Newburyport will also soon be home to two craft microbreweries. Newburyport Brewing Co., a “keg and can” brewery is working to have three ales on offer, and Riverwalk Brewing of Amesbury is preparing to move into new digs in Newburyport in September.

We’d be remiss in our duty if we didn’t mention the invasion of various frozen yogurt chains all over the north shore this summer. We don’t usually cover chains, but they have aroused so much interest we may have to get out there devote a piece to comparison tasting. The things we do for our readers.

More changes are afoot, of course, but hopefully this post will be helpful to those of you looking to widen your taste horizons this fall. If you’ve got any hot tips on new restos, let us know, and we’ll spread the word.

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Lunch Comes Alive at Salem’s New Organic Café

Posted: August 7th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Cafe, Life Alive, Vegitarian/Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

When Coven opened at 281 Essex Street in Salem, we really loved their concept and baked goods. While disappointed by their departure, we were happy to find the space was filled almost immediately by another restaurant.

The new tenant, Life Alive, is one of three organic cafes founded by Heidi Feinstein, a natural health consultant. We’ve eaten lunch there a couple of times now and have really enjoyed it. Despite being an organic café focusing on nutrition, health conscious meals, juices and smoothies, the hippy-crunchy vibe doesn’t overwhelm. The staff is welcoming and happy to explain any unfamiliar ingredients or options available. You order and pay at the counter, and they bring your meal to you when ready.

One rainy afternoon, the Udon Miso Masterful ($9.15) really fit the bill: warm, filling and energizing. Chock full of veggies, udon noodles, and dark barley miso broth, it was a soup with attitude and almost too large to finish.

On a return trip, we tried two of the signature meals-in-a-bowl, the Goddess ($8.55) and the Lover ($9). The beets, carrots, broccoli and dark leafy greens are only lightly cooked so they retain flavor and crunch, and the short grain brown rice adds body and texture. The Goddess featured tofu, while shitake mushrooms graced the Lover. Both were drizzled with Sesame Ginger Nama sauce that was addictively tasty.

The persnickety 13 year old along for the ride was horrified when she realized where we planned to eat. “You brought me to a vegetarian restaurant without telling me?” And the eyes rolled skyward. But she was very pleased to discover a wrap called The Feisty Child ($7). PB&J along with honey and banana on a warm wheat tortilla earned raves.

While dropping $10 on lunch might not fit your daily budget, the same items and prices are served at dinner and if you’re looking for a hearty, healthy fresh alternative, Life Alive is definitely worth investigating. Everything we tasted was super fresh, and the bowl portions were impressive.

Life Alive Cafe
281 Essex Street, Salem
(978)594-4644
www.lifealive.com

Life Alive on Urbanspoon

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Restaurants Bloom on the North Shore

Posted: April 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

It was a mild winter, but it still feels wonderful to welcome spring. There’s lots happening on the North Shore food-wise, with new restaurants starting up and farm stands re-opening in many towns.

But first, we need to congratulate the winners of the Warwick Film and Food Festival. Swampscott’s City Grill won the judges award for taste with their smoked beef short rib rillette with candied green tomato and soft polenta. Pickwick Baking Company was the big winner of the night, winning for best presentation and best film pairing (a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party a la “Alice in Wonderland”). Pickwick’s Alison Ryan put her tantalizingly delicious macarons into a woodland fairy-tale setting that delighted the judges and the crowd. City and Pickwick tied for the Best of the Festival Award. Last but not least, Kappy’s Liquors won the people’s choice award for keeping Coppola wines flowing to match their “Godfather” theme. You can see photos of all of the awesome restaurants entries here.

We start the restaurant news with the folks at Serenitee Restaurant group (Cala’s, Alchemy, 15 Walnut), who just opened Maggie’s Farm on Rt. 114 in Middleton. A pub-style restaurant, Maggie’s features starters like smoked goat cheese jalapeno poppers, roasted pork tacos, and crispy corn and crab cake. Entrees include seafood jambalaya, stuffed eggplant, and pan-roasted statler breast; there are also pizzas and sandwiches to choose from.

Next, the Wenham Tea House has re-opened under the management of Henry’s of Beverly, with Peter Capalbo (owner/operator of Beverly’s Tryst) as the executive chef. In addition to breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and weekend brunch, the take-out options feature selections from Henry’s and loose-leaf tea from Hamilton’s Jolie Tea Company. They’re building a 70-person patio and will be holding wine dinners starting in the summer.

Several new restaurants are coming to Salem, including Life Alive organic café in the former Coven location on Essex St., Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt on Lafayette St., Something’s Brewing on Wharf St. (a new tea shop), and Three Potato Four on Washington St. (baked potato snacks with a variety of toppings).

Endicott College’s School of Hospitality Management has announced their restaurant’s spring schedule. Dinners at La Chanterelle Restaurant begin at 6:30 and feature seasonal selections prepared and served by students. Call for more information and reservations: (978) 232-3040. You can also sign up for their mailing list.

Three new food shops are opening in Marblehead. In Old Town, the Candy Pop Sweet Shoppe will feature penny candy, bulk candy, organic candy, vegan candy, sugar free candy, popcorn, and dessert pops, while Captn’s Bakery will offer artisan bread, bagels, cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and brownies. In downtown, Absolutely Fabulous will serve up specialty cakes on Atlantic Ave.

For those who can’t wait to buy local produce, Russell Orchards in Ipswich will open on April 28, Cider Hill in Amesbury will open on May 4, and Green Meadows Farm in Hamilton is open already with pansies, home-made treats, and lambs and piglets for the kids to see. And Swampscott is getting its own farmer’s market, located at the high school (200 Essex St) and open from 10am to 1pm on Sundays from mid-June to October.

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A Tale of Two Brunches

Posted: February 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: American, Beverly, Breakfast, brunch, Cafe, Organic Garden Cafe, Tryst, Vegitarian/Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Extraordinarily for us, last weekend saw not one but two brunches, both in Beverly. On Saturday, we had relatives staying who wanted to go to brunch, and our favorite Wellesley student is vegan, so we let her choose the venue. She decided on The Organic Garden Café on Cabot Street, which not only serves vegetarian and vegan fare but largely raw foods as well.

The space is small and comfortable, and our waiter was attentive. We were offered both the breakfast and lunch menus and chose items from both, sipping our drinks while we waited for the food. The coffee was respectable; the hot cocoa, made from raw cacao, was super rich; but my favorite was the lemon ginger and raw honey tea. Blended fresh, it arrived frothy and hot and was a perfect antidote for winter weariness.

Our entrees ranged from “live”(dehydrated instead of baked) granola ($6) and quinoa porridge with agave nectar, cinnamon, cardamom, and raisins ($4 with additional toppings $1 each) to the Southwestern faux omelet on baby spinach ($7), made with a combination of ground nuts and veggies in lieu of eggs. We also tried the omelet, nausage patty, & crepe combo ($9) where a mix of sunflower seeds, flax, onion, portabella, and seasonings stand in for the sausage.

Clearly, the faux versions of traditional meat items are not meant to replicate the carnivore’s experience; they are fanciful takes using similarly spiced or textured food. Everything was extremely fresh tasting and well seasoned, and in the end, the savory foods with their layers of flavor won out over the sweet; the southwestern plate being a real standout.

The large case displaying great-looking desserts was enticing, but we were so sated that we opted to purchase a few treats to take home for later. Eschewing the cakes and cookies, we had to try the “I am Mighty” balls ($3.50) for the name alone. A dense combination of fruits, nuts, and seeds dipped in dark chocolate; it was like the ultimate protein bar—tasty, satisfying, and energizing.

On Sunday, we ended up back on Cabot Street just a few doors down from the Organic Garden, to meet a Beverly friend at Tryst. As one would anticipate, this meal offered a much more traditional brunch menu, including the standard Bloody Mary’s and mimosas. Two of our party went for alternate benedicts; the spinach enhanced eggs florentine ($8) and the eggs royale ($11), with a generous portion of Scottish smoked salmon. Our third entrée was the French-style omelet with goat cheese, broccoli, and roasted red peppers ($9) and a side of bacon ($3.50)

The menu mentions that eggs are local, but isn’t specific as to the source. The omelet was huge, and the vegetables tender but a bit heavy on the peppers. The benedicts were lovely, with velvety lemon hollandaise and excellent quality smoked salmon. Each plate included a portion of hash browns and two huge orange wedges. The hash browns seemed an oddity; a small, dry half-patty that I wanted to be tastier than it was.

The weekend turned out to be a lesson in expectations. Having had lovely dinners at Tryst and heard good things about their brunch, our expectations were high. The meal was certainly tasty but didn’t knock our socks off. It’s a solid choice for those seeking a good brunch in a nice room (not as common as you’d think on the North Shore), but in future, we’ll stick to Manhattans and roast chicken at the bar.

My only assumption about Organic Gardrn Café was it likely had a “hippy-crunchy” vibe, which it did, though not oppressively so. The opportunity to sample foods I had never contemplated making at home made it very enjoyable. What fascinated me was not the raw aspect of the food, but the creative combination of textures and tastes. I found myself thinking about returning for lunch or dinner to explore more menu items.

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

Organic Garden Café
294 Cabot Street, Beverly
(978) 922-0004
organicgardencafe.com

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