Posted: October 26th, 2012 | Author: KN | Filed under: American, Casual/Pub Food, Lynn, Rolly's Tavern on the Square | Tags: Arts After Hours, Corey Jackson, Dinner Deal, Rolly Hayes, Urban Wine Project, Weekly Specials, Wendy Meninno Hayes | 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
Posted: September 20th, 2012 | Author: JR | Filed under: Bakery, Cafe, Casual/Pub Food, Christopher's Table, Drinks, Ipswich | Tags: Buy a Friend a Drink, Christopher DeStefano, LMK Interiors | No Comments »
There’s something very hard to resist about a glass of good wine and food that pairs perfectly with it. That’s the idea behind the newly launched wine bar at Christopher’s Table in Ipswich. By day, the space is a bakery café featuring gourmet sandwiches like turkey with caramelized onions, bacon, tomato, and fresh greens and a treats like cupcakes, brownies, cinnamon rolls, and apple turnovers.
At night, white tablecloths and thoughtful lighting transform this spot into an intimate wine bar. Diminutive sofas, red and gray décor to bring out the space’s tin ceiling, and comfortable bar stools are part of the charm created by North Shore designer Lisa Kawski of LMK Interiors. Behind the bar is an idea we love: a chalkboard encouraging friends to buy drinks for each other.
The drink special the night we visited was a peach bellini, but we went with the flavorful pinot noir ($10). The crispy fried chickpeas are just about the perfect bar snack ($6), and the arancini were a lusciously cheesy ($10). We didn’t try the cheese or charcutrie plates, but we saw them nearby, and they looked delicious. Chef/owner Christopher DeStefano says he is planning to add comfort food items to the bar menu for fall.
Chef Christopher is also looking to tap into foodies interested in classes. Upcoming events include a four-course dinner of local foods paired with four wines (Oct 15). His next class is on cooking with fall ingredients like pumpkin, apples, dried fruits, sage, and squash (Oct 24). Check the website for more information, and let us know what you think about the wine bar if you stop in.
5 Depot Square Ipswich
Posted: April 27th, 2012 | Author: KN | Filed under: American, Casual/Pub Food, Choate Bridge Pub, Ipswich, Seafood | Tags: Beer, burgers, free popcorn, pit barbeque | No Comments »
After spending hours doing yardwork on Saturday, we were in the mood for relaxation: laughing over a few beers, hearty sustenance, and a laid-back atmosphere. We found ourselves at the Choate Bridge Pub in Ipswich, which filled the bill perfectly.
Long a favorite hangout for Ipswich locals, the pub is named for the adjacent historic bridge, one of the oldest stone-arch bridges in the country.
The restaurant’s configuration, divided between a bar and dining room is a bit odd to navigate, with three entrances but no obvious hostess station to inquire about seating. The large bar was packed and pretty loud, so we opted for the dining room. The atmosphere is typically pubby, with friendly waitresses, wooden booths, menus printed on the paper placemats, and specials scrawled on a chalkboard.
Taking advantage of the free popcorn machine, we munched fresh, hot popcorn while sipping our drinks and perusing the menu. We started off with a buffalo calamari appetizer special that was fine but unspectacular ($11.95). The squid weren’t particularly tender, but this at least helped them from being overwhelmed by the buffalo sauce, and the portion was plenty for four people.
For entrees, two of our party decided on the haddock special, ($11.95) which was a deep-fried bonanza that included both onion rings and fries. The fish portions were generous and the fillets were tender, fresh, and lightly breaded.
I opted for the deluxe pub burger ordered medium rare ($8.95 accompanied by french fries. For $7.50, the regular pub burger comes with chips). It was served on an onion roll with lettuce, tomato, and pickles and done perfectly—a tasty grilled char on the outside but lightly pink and juicy in the middle. Really, it was a damn good burger I would order again without question.
Aside from burgers, Choate Bridge is known for their pit barbeque plates, and the last member of our group went for the lamb tips plate served with choice of starch and vegetable/salad ($14.95). The meat was tender and flavorful, grilled with a house-made sauce and once again, the portion quite generous.
If you’re headed back from the beach this summer and looking for a change from the ubiquitous clam shacks, try stopping into Choate Bridge to see what they’ve got on the grill. It’s not fancy, but neither are the prices or their attitude.
Choate Bridge Pub
3 South Main Street, Ipswich
Posted: July 21st, 2011 | Author: KN | Filed under: Beverly, Casual/Pub Food, Diner, The Scotty Dog | Tags: Chicago Style Hot Dogs, hot dogs, Vienna Beef | 2 Comments »
Roadside food fans rejoiced this spring when the former Rondogs hot dog stand in Beverly, which had been closed for over a year, re-opened as The Scotty Dog. We finally got a chance to stop by this week and check it out.
Situated in a small parking lot on Rantoul Street, the tiny stand features car-hop service and several picnic tables and Adirondack chairs where diners relax in the shade.
The Scotty Dog is a Vienna Beef stand, so all of its dogs are Vienna products and its touted menu item is the Chicago Style dog. (For the record, if you are a Vienna Beef fan looking for a fix while traveling, there’s an app for that.)
Despite our epic investigation of North Shore hot dogs two summers ago, this was our first taste of a Chicago Style. For those unfamiliar, this mean it’s served on a poppy-seed roll with mustard, onions,relish, tomatoes, sport peppers, a pickle spear, and a sprinkling of celery salt (small$3.70, large $4.90). Under no circumstances is ketchup allowed to mar this carefully prepared combination.
Clearly not experts on the matter, we can’t say whether the wiener we had was up to Chicago standards, but it was certainly enjoyable. The sport peppers give the whole thing a kick, and we loved the addition of the pickle. The bizarre neon green relish wasn’t to our liking, and the bun was a bit bland and squishy, but that’s likely because we’re die-hard New Englanders and prefer a grilled frankfurter roll.
The Scotty Dog has plenty of toppings available for a build-your-own experience and offers a variety of specialty dogs. We’re thinking next time we may have to try the Juracy Dog, which features corn, potato sticks, and mayo.
We also tried one of the “steak burgers” which come in Toy, (single patty, $2.50) Standard, (double patty, $3.50) and Mastiff (triple patty, $4.50) We opted for the Scotty Patty, which came with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and special sauce. The burger was quite good— it tasted very fresh and had a nice hand ground texture and grilled flavor to it. Our only “beef” (sorry, it’s the heat) was that the server didn’t ask how we wanted it done, and it came out slightly more rare than we would have liked. We suggest making sure you specify doneness when placing your order.
The french fries ($1.75 for small, $2.25 for large) were thin and crisp, and we appreciated the generous shake of black pepper along with the salt, giving them extra zing.
The owners are still finding their groove with the ordering and serving procedure, but everyone was cheerful and helpful, and we love the car hop service, which makes The Scotty Dog a perfect choice when you’re on the way back from a day at the beach with a car full of kids of any age.
The Scotty Dog
437 Rantoul St., Beverly
Posted: May 31st, 2011 | Author: JR | Filed under: Beverly, Casual/Pub Food, Mandrake, Seafood | Tags: bar snacks, blog off, Good Morning Gloucester, Joey Ciaramitaro, Patrick Ryan, Seafood | 22 Comments »
The thing about Joey C. (seen here sporting his new geek chic glasses) is that it’s virtually impossible to say no to him. Which is how we found ourselves at Mandrake last Thursday night eating, drinking, carousing, and wearing paper bags over our heads.
A few weeks prior, Joey C. (Ciaramitaro) and Patrick Ryan of Good Morning Gloucester fame had challenged us to a blog-off in which we’d meet on neutral ground (i.e., not Gloucester), dine together, and post about our experiences on the same day. The post that gets the most comments ensures bragging rights as the most awesome North Shore blog.
It was not our usual anonymous meal, that’s for sure. But despite the paper bags (a humorous nod to our standard under-the-radar dining) and Joey’s antics (he befriended everyone in the place and set up his tripod anywhere he pleased), we had a great time, and the food was right up our alley.
We started with the hummus and tapenade plate, accompanied by soft pita ($7). It was good, but totally eclipsed by the calamari, which were very tender and accompanied by a delicious aioli ($10), and the crab cakes, which were good sized, flavorful, and exceptionally light ($14). The only cocktail we tried was the Islander, which tasted like summer in a glass ($8).
Our entrees were all good, with a couple of standouts. The steak tips were cooked to our requested medium rare and accompanied by a huge amount of garlic mashed potatoes ($18). The baked scallops had great flavor, and the scallops were moist ($17). The horseradish and dijon crusted salmon was perfectly cooked and sitting on lyonnais potatoes, a nice change from the usual ($19).
The yellowfin tuna was very tender and fresh, perfect with just a sear on the outside. The sides were spot on in flavor: a salty seaweed salad and a bright asian coleslaw ($19). The best of the night was the seafood mac and cheese, which managed to be rich but not heavy. The cream sauce was delicious, the portion was huge, and the seafood was not overcooked ($24).
Thanks to Joey’s gregariousness, we were treated to dessert—a huge plate of fried dough topped with cookie dough ice cream, whipped cream, and caramel sauce. It sounds like carnival junk food run amok, but it was actually a unique indulgence that quickly disappeared.
We had been to Mandrake only for cocktails and bar snacks, and we’re glad we got a chance to return for dinner. The decor is cozy, the service is extremely friendly (and not just to Joey, we observed), and the atmosphere is the relaxed kind we tend to gravitate to.
We had a boatload of fun that night, and want to thank the staff for putting up with us. Of course, we could never seriously compete with Joey and Patrick, who get hundreds of hits a day due to their loving coverage of all things Gloucester, not to mention the photos of albino lobsters and LOLseagullz, but let’s give them a run for their money. Whether you’ve been to Mandrake or not, if you’re a loyal North Shore Dish fan, please comment on this post so we can show the boys of GMG that not only are we good sports, but we know what great local blogging is all about.
And no, we weren’t kidding about the paper bags, Joey’s got the evidence.
252 Cabot St, Beverly
Posted: March 4th, 2011 | Author: JR | Filed under: American, Casual/Pub Food, Hungry Betty's, Marblehead | 2 Comments »
Owner Patty Johnson and Chef Billy Glidden
Could it be that the economy is on its way back to health at the same time winter releases us from its clutches? Actually, we’re not sure, but we were encouraged when we heard about a large new restaurant opening in Marblehead and stopped in to check it out.
Hungry Betty’s is a casual dining restaurant located on the second level of the Village Plaza on Pleasant Street. Owner Patty Johnson, who took a few minutes out of her busy opening weekend to talk with us, has worked in restaurants for more than 20 years. The past 10 of those years she’s provided food and beverage to the members of Marblehead’s Dolphin Yacht Club. The menu she developed for the new restaurant with Chef Billy Glidden is highly accessible, with casual comfort food at reasonable prices.
One of Johnson’s main goals is to provide a place for families to come on a regular basis—whenever parents don’t feel like cooking. In addition to entrees like burgers, haddock, meatloaf, stir fries, and chicken with fig/onion sauce ($9 to $17), there is a $5.25 kids menu that includes grilled chicken, pizza, chicken fingers, and a cheese quesadilla. All of the food is made from scratch on site.
There’s an 18-table dining room, a bar that seats 16, and a lounge area with another 15 tables. The décor is fresh and soothing, with neutral tones, black furniture, and plenty of light. Johnson noted that she wanted to stay away from the typical nautical theme.
Although many of the restaurant’s crew are people Johnson knows from the Dolphin and other previous jobs, she held back a bit on the opening menu. There are plenty of choices, but Johnson said she has more offerings planned once the kitchen and front-of-house staff gets its sea legs, so to speak. For example, the salmon salad entree comes in a large chilled bowl and is a popular choice; Johnson plans to add several variations.
Johnson, who has lived in Marblehead since 1989 and whose nickname was the inspiration for the restaurant name, believes the time is right for this type of establishment and for the Village Plaza to be revived as a destination for Marbleheaders. We applaud her seemingly boundless energy and once she and her crew have settle in, we’ll return to try the food—we’ve got our eye on the steak bomb egg rolls.
161 Pleasant St, Marblehead
Posted: November 21st, 2010 | Author: JR | Filed under: American, Beverly, Casual/Pub Food, Hale Street Tavern, Seafood | Tags: Hot Girl Roll, Pomegranate Martini, Scallop Chowder | 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
Posted: October 1st, 2010 | Author: KN | Filed under: American, Beverly, Casual/Pub Food, Farm Bar & Grille, Farm Downtown | Tags: BBQ Barbecue, Bradley Atkinson, Noah Goldstein, open late, pulled pork, Ryan Cox, sandwiches | 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
Posted: May 19th, 2010 | Author: KN | Filed under: Casual/Pub Food, Hooked, Marblehead, Seafood | Tags: Ben Rhodes, Fish, fried clams, Rafe Hershfield, Seafood, Take Out | 3 Comments »
When the eye-catching blue and yellow Coming Soon signs appeared in the windows of 114 Pleasant St. in Marblehead last week, locals were impressed. Although the new restaurant, Hooked, won’t open until June, it’s already got a website with a sample menu and a twitter feed to boot.
“Oh,” you might say, “A seafood restaurant in a shore town, how (yawn) exciting.” But the truth is, with its family-friendly combination of casual restaurant and take-out, Hooked’s unique approach may just be what some are looking for, especially as it will be open for lunch.
I stopped by today and chatted with partners Ben Rhodes and Rafe Hershfield about their new venture. Rhodes, a well-known Marblehead native, owns the building and for many years ran the Super Sub that Hooked is replacing. He was ready for something new, and long discussions with the enthusiastic Hirschfield gave birth to this concept.
The space will feature about 32 seats in a combination of counter, high-top tables, and regular tables. Diners will order at the counter, their meals will be brought to them, and they’ll bus their own tables as they depart. A step above the familiar red-and-white checked paper baskets, the food will be served on china with flatware, and a selection of beer and wine will be served.
Hershfield promises the fried offerings will be fresh, not frozen, with generous portions at highly competitive prices. Clam strip fans will be intrigued—the jumbo refers not to the portion but to the size of the clams.
Unlike the standard clam shack, Hooked’s menu will include plenty of fresh fish (locally sourced when possible) as grilled and baked options, with items like swordfish kabobs over salad for healthy or gluten-free choices. Less-common sandwiches like crab cake sliders and fish tacos will also make an appearance, and the guys hinted at a few more menu surprises they have up their sleeves.
Everything will be available for take-out, which is sure to please summer beachgoers and boaters. The interior is getting a complete overhaul, including a brand-new kitchen, and they plan to open in mid to late June. Rhodes says farther down the line, they are looking at turning the adjacent driveway into a patio with outdoor seating, something of which Marblehead has surprisingly little.
The restaurant’s website quips “Once you try it you’ll be ‘Hooked’!” and after my visit today, I’m looking forward to returning to see if it’s true.
Edit 7.20.10: You can read about our first visit to Hooked here: A First Look at Hooked, Marblehead’s Newest Seafood Eatery
Hooked Seafood & Grill
114 Pleasant St., Marblehead
Posted: March 3rd, 2010 | Author: KN | Filed under: American, Ataraxis Tavern, Casual/Pub Food, Marblehead | Tags: AT, Ataraxis Tavern, Comfort Food, Dean Santamaria-Capetanelis, Marblehead Restaurants, Paul Riccardi, Tavern | 7 Comments »
Edit 12/29/10: We are sorry to report that Ataraxis Tavern has closed it’s doors.
Marblehead’s got a new bar and grill in town, though you likely haven’t heard of it yet. Ataraxis Tavern has quickly and quietly filled the space left by Flynnie’s and in the month since their soft opening, has been generating great buzz.
Jeff Flynn and his family are well regarded by Marbleheaders and both Flynnie’s on the Avenue and at Devereux Beach were favorites of many, so while it may not be fair, comparisons by locals will be inevitable.
We stopped by last night to take a look for ourselves and had the opportunity to chat with owner Dean Santamaria-Capetanelis. Dean grew up in Marblehead and when he and friend Paul Riccardi, previously the executive chef at Jack Tar, were looking to open a restaurant and saw the space for sale, they jumped at the chance to return to town. Dean and Paul’s shared vision is that of a relaxing family-friendly tavern atmosphere serving quality comfort food. The name, Ataraxis, is actually an English word meaning “the absence of mental stress or anxiety.”
On first glance, the interior feels darker, warmer and indeed quieter for such a small space. The paneling on the walls, which was originally reclaimed wood from a tannery in Peabody, has been stained a dark walnut. The other big change is the black tablecloths and linen napkins at each table. Dean explains that not only does this help in baffling noise, but using linens is also more cost effective and creates less waste than paper. The new chairs and fresh coat of paint add to the revived atmosphere. And families with children shouldn’t be put off by the new look—our junior Dish member was delighted at the offer of an Etch-A-Sketch from the stash at the hostess stand to occupy kids waiting on their food.
There are a couple of changes that haven’t happened yet, but are in the works. The floor needs refinishing, but instead of fighting the salt, sand and snow of winter, that will wait till warmer months. Also, the custom painted glass between the restaurant area and bar is in the process of being replaced.
Much of the transformation, Santamaria-Capetanelis tells us, will never be seen by the public. The kitchen has gotten a facelift, as well as new chef (Riccardi) and sous-chef (Jake Soucy), and a new computer system installed. There are some familiar faces, though, because he hired back the former Flynnie’s wait and bar staff which made the transition smoother than most.
The menu, as promised, centers on hearty and comfort food favorites. The big difference here is that everything is prepared to order from scratch, using fresh ingredients. Dean already uses local suppliers like Patriot Lobster for seafood and Atomic Café for coffee, and is interested in locally sourcing as much as he can as the seasons change.
While we didn’t get to explore much of the menu, we did try the ribs ($14.50 for half rack, $21 for full) which were terrific. They were fall-off-the-bone tender and had great flavor. The grilled farmhouse burger ($8.75) was fresh, juicy and generous, and the fries plentiful and tasty.
Santamaria-Capetanelis is pleased with the initial public reaction, and said that business for February, (a difficult month to open anything) exceeded their expectations. Visitors have warmed to the new place, and with so many storefronts still vacant from economic upheaval, we’re thinking Atlantic Avenue can only benefit from the energy generated by Dean and his crew.
If you are interested in checking out the AT for yourself, think about heading over tomorrow night, Thursday March 4th, for their grand opening celebration. They will be serving up samples of their signature dishes as well as handing out fun freebies from Cape Ann Brewing Company from 5-7 pm.
28 Atlantic Ave., Marblehead
ataraxistavern.com (the menu is up, but the site is still under construction)
Ataraxis Tavern Facebook Page