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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Earn a Free Entrée While Discovering New Flavors

Posted: October 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: 15 Walnut, American, Beverly, Bistro, Cala's, Gloucester, Hamilton, Manchester | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

You may not have realized it, but several of the terrific restaurants we enjoy here on the North Shore are the result of the hard working folks at Serenitee Restaurant Group. The group (previously known as North Shore Restaurant Group) has just unveiled a fun promotion aimed at encouraging diners to discover restaurants they may not have tried and, of course, to get out to old favorites as well.

At any of the six eateries, all with unique atmospheres and cuisines, you can pick up a “Discovery Card” that gets stamped with the purchase of a meal. Whether from six different restaurants or the same one, after you accumulate six stamps, you are rewarded with a free entrée at any of the locations.

The restaurants included in the promotion are:

15 Walnut, Hamilton (read about our experience here)

Cala’s, Manchester (read about our experience here)

Hale St. Tavern, Sushi and Oyster Bar, Beverly Farms

Latitude 43, Gloucester

Backstage Bistro, at the North Shore Music Theater, Beverly

Alchemy Tapas & Bistro, Gloucester

You know us, we’ll use any excuse to get out and try different restaurants, and a free meal is a great one. The offer expires December 31, so there’s plenty of time to explore these North Shore eateries.

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The Boys From Essex Bring Their BBQ to Beverly

Posted: October 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Beverly, Casual/Pub Food, Farm Bar & Grille, Farm Downtown | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

In April of ’09, three young entrepreneurs, Noah Goldstein, Bradley Atkinson, and Ryan Cox threw their lot in together and opened the Farm Bar and Grille in Essex. When we visited the following week, the place was packed.

This afternoon, we experienced a bit of déjà vu when we stopped by for the grand opening of the trio’s newest venture, The Farm Downtown, on Rantoul Street in Beverly. There was a line out the door, and the atmosphere was jovial with lunch seekers and well wishers.

Of course, that may have had something to do with the free pulled pork and chicken sandwiches the guys were handing out. We tried one of each, and they were superb; tender, smoky melt-in-your-mouth meat with just the right amount of savory sauce on a grilled bun. We’re talking seriously tasty.

Whereas the Essex restaurant was created as a destination, featuring a huge indoor space with live music and a patio with outdoor games, in the smaller Beverly location, the focus is more on the food, Goldstein (pictured) told us. All of the offerings are freshly made, including hand-packed burgers using Angus beef (never frozen) and hand-cut French fries and tortilla chips. The specialty of the house is of course the barbeque, which is slowly smoked in their famous custom smoker in Essex and prepared on site in Beverly.

The menu includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, and seafood at reasonable price points. Everything is packaged and ready for take-out, and you’re welcome to eat there, though there is limited seating.

Although small, the storefront is appealing and fun, with custom tables inlayed with the signature pig logo. It’s extra impressive when Goldstein lets on that this has all been put together in just one month. Clearly, it was a month of late nights and a dedicated crew.

We’re betting The Farm Downtown will quickly become a welcome addition to the thriving Beverly restaurant scene. Tasty food, competitive prices—and did we mention they’ll be open late? Until 2:00 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, which is a rarity here on the North Shore. And really, how can you not appreciate a place whose tagline is “We’ll Pull Your Pork”?

The Farm Downtown
350 Rantoul St. Beverly
(978)922.0011
www.farmdowntown.com

The Farm Downtown on Urbanspoon

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Brutole Proves Location Isn’t Everything

Posted: September 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Brutole, Danvers, Mediterranean | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

If we hadn’t heard from a couple of sources that the food at Brutole was outstanding, we would probably have turned around in the parking lot. This restaurant has got to win the award for strangest location ever: it’s a high-end Mediterranean restaurant located on Route 1 next to a Motel 6.

Once inside, it’s easy to forget where you are. The luxurious décor and lighting put you in the mood to dine, and the outstanding service makes you feel you’re in good hands. By the time the warm artisan bread arrives with olive oil (mixed tableside with cheese and pepper flakes), you’re a convert.

We started with the caesar salad ($10), which was outstandingly fresh and coated with the perfect amount of dressing. The duck breast with mushroom risotto and a blackberry reduction ($14) was also a winner, three large slices cooked to medium-rare and ready for that delicious sauce.

The hefty portions don’t stop with the appetizers. The prices at Brutole are similar to those you’d find in Boston, but the portions are about double. For example, the rack of lamb was cooked to our requested medium, absolutely delicious, and accompanied by a very tasty lentil/vegetable mix. At $41, it’s the most expensive entrée on the menu, but definitely worth the splurge in terms of flavor, and with six good-sized chops on the plate, we were able to make another meal of the leftovers.

We also enjoyed the grilled salmon ($28), which came with silky horseradish mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. The sea bass with white bean compote and spinach ($34) was great, especially combined with the sautéed mushroom side dish ($9).

Desserts are often a disappointment, even at fine dining establishments, so we’re pleased to be able to recommend saving some room when you dine here. The crème brulee was creamy and satisfying ($9), but it was outshone by the strawberry rhubarb crumble with vanilla ice cream ($10). It’s served in a loaf pan, wonderfully crisp and decadent, and the perfect size for sharing.

It was a great ending to the meal, but we received one final service before we left—a bag with nicely packaged leftovers was handed to us in exchange for a number, rather than dumped on our table. Brutole may not be located in a charming area, but that didn’t stop it from winning us over.

Brutole
65 Newbury St, Danvers (first driveway after Rt 114 east exit)
(978) 777-6633
www.brutolerestaurant.com

Brutole on Urbanspoon

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J Quick Kitchen Lives Up to Its Name

Posted: August 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, J Quick Kitchen, Salem, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , | 24 Comments »

Editor’s Note 2/2/11: J Quick Kitchen has changed it’s name to Black Cow Express, but currently maintains the same menu.

Locals were all abuzz when the old KFC building on the Salem side of Vinnin Square started to undergo renovation this summer. The arches on the exterior had some believing that it was going to become a Taco Bell, but the truth was revealed when signs arrived declaring J Quick Kitchen, sandwiches and seafood. This entry into the fast casual arena was created by the owners of the Black Cow restaurants, and it opened this week.

We visited them twice and both times were impressed at how well they lived up to their name. Quick indeed: on the first visit, our food was served in five minutes, and on the return visit, a much larger order to go was handed over in six minutes. Everything was nicely packed and labeled, complete with sauces and plastic-ware—amazing.

The interior is bright, clean, and pleasant with funky lime green accents and large digital displays for menu boards. The abundant staff was perky and welcoming.

The menu features all the standard sandwich shop usual suspects, including a turkey club, a reuben, and burgers, along with fried seafood offerings. It’s clear, however, that J Quick Kitchen strives to offer quality beyond the local sub shop. They roast and carve their own meats, smoke their own pulled pork, and freshly prepare hand-cut french fries.

Our favorites were the J’s Chicken sandwich ($7.50) which featured a grilled chicken breast, hickory bacon, cheddar cheese, and BBQ mayo on a toasted kaiser roll, and the shrimp plate, which was super fresh, sparingly breaded, and a bargain compared to many local places at $12. We also liked the fries, which were thin and crispy. The coleslaw was a bit too soupy.

Another great taste was the house-smoked pulled pork sandwich ($7.50) with North Carolina BBQ sauce. It was unexpectedly savory and smoky and not swimming in sauce. The pressed rueben ($8) was tasty though a bit soggy, and the crispy haddock plate ($11.50) was respectable. The sandwiches are not huge, but they’re filling, and the seafood portions are generous.

We didn’t try the burger, but saw several people enjoying them. The folks down the street at Five Guys may be nervous about competition from the new kid on the block because they arrived en masse for lunch while we were there. (Before they sat down to eat, the manager greeted them warmly and even gave a few of them a kitchen tour.)

Although there are a couple of standard vegetarian options on the menu, a few more creative healthy choices would go a long way to woo those of us who love the fresh approach and convenience but hate the calories involved with most take out.

In an area already chock-full of chain restaurants and fast food, it looks like J Quick Kitchen is using service and quality to set it apart from the pack. We truly were pleasantly surprised by the experience, and while they may still be gauging their customer base, J Quick Kitchen is a fascinating addition to the square.

J Quick Kitchen
2 Paradise Road, Salem
(974) 744-3287
www.jquickkitchen.com

J Quick Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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The Unsung Tastes of Summer

Posted: August 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bakery, Boston Hot Dog Co., Cafe, Cider Hill Farm, Coven, Green Land Cafe, Jack Tar, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

While it may seem we write about every single thing we eat, that’s obviously not the case. And trust us, you really don’t want to know about all the cold leftovers or bowls of cereal in our lives. However, there have been some unsung tid-bits we’ve enjoyed this summer that deserve mention.

Jack Tar is an unassuming restaurant and pub tucked in behind the storefronts on Washington Street in Marblehead, and on a couple of occasions this summer we have found ourselves enjoying their little patio in the early evening. Our drink of choice? The refreshing Lemon Jack, which is similar to a lemon drop, made with citrus vodka and limoncello. Icy and tart, it’s just the thing to cool you off after a sultry day. Their house-made warm potato chips with bleu cheese, smoked bacon, and scallions are extremely tasty and just the right accompaniment to cocktails.

When a friend requested a stop at Boston Hot Dog in Salem recently, we heartily agreed, fully expecting to order one of their stellar dogs. Upon entering, we noticed the hot pastrami special and decided it warranted further investigation. Man, was that one excellent sandwich. If tender, savory pastrami slow-cooked all day, loaded into a French bread bun with Dijon mustard and a bit of swiss cheese sounds like heaven to you, check this baby out.

Autumn may be when thoughts typically turn to cider doughnuts, but we’ve been obsessing about them this summer, and those from Cider Hill Farm are the objects of our affection. Fresh, light, and cake-y, these old-fashioned doughnuts are coated in cinnamon sugar and simply melt in your mouth. Cider Hill sells them at several farmers markets across the North Shore, but we love them still warm from the bakery at the farm itself.

Another dessert worth seeking out is the dark chocolate bread pudding from Coven. It is dense, not too sweet, and the deep chocolate reminiscent of my grandmother’s homemade hot fudge sauce. This insanely lush treat is so rich we couldn’t finish it all, but it’s the sort of left over that won’t languish long in the fridge.

We have yet to get to the newly opened Green Land Café in Salem for dinner, but we did stop in for lunch last week and were quite impressed by the grilled avocado and crab salad with ginger-lime gastrique. Both the avocado and the crab were super fresh tasting, and the dressing was bright and tangy. This lovely entrée was light yet filling, just right for a summer afternoon.

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Amesbury’s Neighborhood Bistro Offers Unique Flavors

Posted: August 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Amesbury, Bistro, Phat Cats Bistro, Seafood | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Amesbury is a bit off our beaten path, but we recently met up with some of our favorite local food bloggers for dinner, and it proved a great gathering location. We decided to check out Phat Cats Bistro on Market Street and were in very good company with Jane of Food and Fiction, Laura of The Two Palaverers and Mary of Cooking 4 the Week whom we thank for some of the photos.

Phat Cats has been open for almost three years now and is run by husband and wife chefs Christina Johnson and Paul Eastman. They locally source as much of the produce and seafood they can, dependant on the season. The dining room is casual and comfortable, with warm tones, exposed brick, several chalkboards sporting specials, and a full bar along one wall. The cocktail list was fun, the wine list included some great picks, and our drinks were generously poured.

We started with several appetizers to share. The lobster rangoon was appealing, but the texture was unexpected. The filling was more liquid than traditional rangoons, and the tubular shape of the pastry made them a bit splurty ($9). The calamari was crisp and flavorful, accented nicely by the chipotle dipping sauce ($8). The haddock cake was light, moist, and savory ($8).

The entrées are varied, and several are offered as full or half portions. The seafood crepe was a surprise, as we envisioned a French style crepe with a cream sauce, but it was more Southwestern, with fresh corn, tomatoes, and spinach surrounding large bits of lobster and scallops. It was served with a bruleed savory corn pudding that was lovely ($16/22). The bistro steak, an herb crusted hangar steak ($18), was very tasty, and the surf and turf risotto (tenderloin beef tips and wild shrimp served over caramelized onion sausage risotto) was wonderfully complex and the favorite at the table ($24).

The veal saltimbocca special ($19) and the herb gnocchi gratin ($11/16) were less successful. Although obviously prepared with care from quality ingredients, the final product somehow lacked zip.

The junior member of our party was quite pleased with her mac and cheese, ordered with the optional shrimp. The pasta was firm and not overwhelmed by the rich cheese, and the shrimp were good-sized and moist. ($13/18)

Most of us were too sated for dessert, but we did try the homemade coconut pudding accompanied by a brownie. Both were excellent, the pudding rich and lightly sweet.

While not every entrée was spectacular, we enjoyed our visit overall, aided by the friendly, helpful staff and the unique flavor combinations on the menu.

Phat Cats Bistro
65A Market Street, Amesbury
(978) 388-2777
www.phatcatsbistro.com

Phat Cats on Urbanspoon

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Nine Elm Gift Certificate Winner!

Posted: July 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bistro, Danvers, Nine Elm American Bistro | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments »

Wow! Not only did we receive over 100 entries, but you guys came up with a terrific list of north shore eateries. Several places were mentioned twice, and the ones noted three or more times were an interesting mix; Nine Elm and Sawasdee in Danvers, Tryst and Cielito Lindo in Beverly, 62 on Wharf in Salem and Riverview in Ipswich.

But you really want to know who won, right? We used the random number generator at Random.org and the winning entry is #95! Congratulations to Michael, who encouraged us to get carnivorous at Fire Bull in Peabody.  He will receive a gift certificate worth $100 to Nine Elm American Bistro. (Michael, please email us your mailing address and we’ll get the gift certificate right out to you. And don’t forget to check back in and let us know how your meal was.)

Thank you so much to everyone for entering the giveaway. Never fear, there will be plenty of future opportunities to win tasty prizes, so keep an eye on the Dish!

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Dish Giveaway: Gift Certificate to Nine Elm

Posted: June 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bistro, Danvers, Nine Elm American Bistro | Tags: , , | 111 Comments »

North Shore Dish is excited to announce our first-ever giveaway! And believe us, this is a contest worth entering.

We are giving away a gift certificate worth $100 from Nine Elm American Bistro in Danvers.  The Boston Globe said Nine Elm “deserves to be a regional draw,” and we agree. We’ve enjoyed dinner there on several occasions, and you can find our post about the bistro here.

How to enter

To enter, leave a comment on this post answering the following question: What North Shore restaurant is your favorite hidden gem?

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, July 1, 2010. A winner will be chosen Friday, July 2 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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Turbine’s Bar Food is Beyond the Ordinary

Posted: June 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Drinks, Lynn, Turbine Wine Bar | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Blue Ox, which opened just over a year ago and has met with great success, injected a new vibrancy into the Lynn dining scene. Young, enthusiastic Lynners like Corey Jackson and Seth Albaum who are working to rejuvenate the downtown hope that Turbine Wine Bar, which opened in March at 56 Central Square, will follow in its footsteps.

Last Saturday, we hit Turbine for dinner to see what all the buzz was about. Situated in a renovated historic building, the feel is relaxed city chic with high ceilings, exposed brick walls, a generous bar, and optic metallic tabletops.

True to the name, Turbine offers more than 30 different wines from $6 a glass and up, including some interesting varietals, a few sparklers, port, and sake. The beer list provides quite a range as well, including Bard’s Tale, a gluten-free option for the celiacs in the crowd.

We ordered a glass each and checked out the menu, which consists of all small plates, many of them quite reasonable. We started with the cheese plate and the hummus. We chose four cheeses from eight varieties, and the plate included fruit, candied pecans, some fig jam, and a baguette toasts ($12). The cheeses weren’t terribly exotic, but they were good quality and served at room temperature, which is always appreciated. The hummus is house-made, fresh and lemony, served with olives and warm pita ($7.50).

Tapas-sized portions are fun because they allow you to taste a variety of dishes without overindulging. We went on to try three more: mushroom ravioli, a chicken tostada, and the black and blue filet. The house-made pasta filled with criminis and ricotta in a white wine cream sauce was delicious, tender and tasty and not overwhelmed by the sauce ($11). The chicken tostada featured slow-cooked chicken with fresh salsa, jack cheese, and avocado slices ($9). It was well made and tasted good but we felt it was overpriced and had the least wow factor of everything we tried.

And speaking of wow factor, the black and blue filet was incredible ($12). Tender slices of seared filet mignon drizzled with an herb oil salsa and served over warm radicchio was the definite favorite of the night. The portion is six smallish slices, which our party of four made quick work of.

We couldn’t leave without sampling a couple of desserts. The rich dark flourless chocolate cake was lovely, and the combination of flavors in the grilled banana bread with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce was a real treat. ($6 each.)

One thing to keep in mind is that while individual items are relatively inexpensive, if you are a big eater, these small plates can add up. They are ideal for a light dinner or a snacks with your drink.

Thus far, Turbine remains a hidden gem. With excellent food and enthusiastic service, we’re surprised that they’re not packed every night. Maybe they cater to a later crowd, but at 8:30, the dining room was only half filled. Of course, that could be a good thing for those looking to try something new—this is a place definitely worth discovering.

Turbine Wine Bar
56 Central Square, Lynn
(781) 780-7301
www.turbinewinebar.com

Turbine Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

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