Wild Horse a Satisfying Ride for Beverly Restaurant Goers

Posted: August 16th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: American, Beverly, Casual/Pub Food, Drinks, Wild Horse Cafe | Tags: , , | No Comments »

We’ve been eager to check out the new Wild Horse Café, since we were great fans of new owners Matt Blanchard and Sam Hunt when they were at 15 Walnut in Hamilton. (Blanchard and Hunt took over the restaurant from Brendan Crocker several months ago.) The renovated space and updated menu were overall a hit, with a couple of minor quibbles.

The interior is lighter and brighter, but still quite cozy. The sound levels are very good, with the upholstered furniture doing its job, and the décor is quirky without being over the top. The bar in the dining room is gone (the separate bar area remains), but the cocktails are in full force. We loved the generous-sized raspberry lime rickey, an adult version of the ones we used to splurge on at Brigham’s ($11) and the hot & dirty martini, which had just the right spice level ($10).

We started with a meze plate, choosing grilled asparagus, cheese of the day, and olives from a list of potential meze ingredients ($12). The cheese was outstanding, and the asparagus was wonderfully smoky. We asked about the preparation and were told it’s from a wood-fueled grill. We couldn’t resist the Thai poutine, which featured decadent fries coated in Thai spices and laced with peanut sauce ($8). Sounds weird, tasted great.

The menu is well thought out, with salads, small plates, and sandwiches along with standard apps and entrees. The specials include a daily cheese, salad, taco, flatbread, and pasta, keeping things interesting and fresh.

The meat dishes we tried were terrific, including steak frites ($24), meltingly tender short ribs with mashed potatoes and the smoky asparagus ($26), and the good-sized lamb chop small plate, also deliciously smoky ($14). We didn’t love the pesto accompanying the lamb, which was bitter, and the swordfish in the taco plate ($17) was on the rubbery side. But the tortillas were grilled, and the salsa and coleslaw were flavorful and made for a wonderful combination with the fish. Given the ingredients, it will surprise no one that the pork dinner was the group favorite, featuring slow-cooked pork shoulder with Moxie barbeque sauce, confit belly, and kale braised with bacon ($19).

We suspect Blanchard and Hunt are still refining the menu, looking to make a mark in the area while giving customers what they want. We’d hope to see service levels bumped up a bit—our waitress was more harried than friendly on a moderately busy night.

We certainly did not need dessert, but we splurged anyway. We enjoyed the bananas foster (although the bananas could have been caramelized a bit more, $7), and the chocolate therapy cake ($8) was served too cold but was wonderfully decadent once it warmed up.

Wild Horse Café
393 Cabot St, Beverly
(978) 922-6868
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Wild-Horse-Cafe/121842167848800

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Getting Fresh at the Beach: New Owners Bring Enthusiasm to Lime Rickey’s

Posted: May 26th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Casual/Pub Food, Lime Rickey's, Marblehead, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Despite the chilly weather, beach season officially starts this week. It came as a surprise to many at Marblehead’s Devereux Beach to see a banner adorning the seasonal food stand proclaiming new ownership.

The stand, which had been run most recently by Paul Petersiel of Swampscott’s Red Rock Bistro (which also houses another Lime Rickey’s location) was sold last month to Anthony Marino and Victoria Farnsworth, owners of Beverly’s popular Marino’s Café.

We were never particularly impressed with the old Lime Rickey’s, so were interested to hear of the change. We stopped by during their soft opening this afternoon to get the scoop on what beachgoers can expect this summer.

Much will stay the same, including the name, which Farnsworth told us they bought the rights to. (The one in Swampscott will change its name; we hear the restaurant is undergoing a change of ownership as well.)

The menu will stay true to classic New England beach shack cuisine, offering fried seafood, burgers and dogs, sandwiches, and Richardson’s ice cream. Keeping things hand made and local, says Farnsworth, will ensure fresh flavor and reasonable cost. The stand will steam lobsters fresh on-site, provided by lobsterman Jeff Bartlett out of Beverly, and the aim is to keep lobster and lobster roll prices as close to market value as possible. Other seafood will be provided by local company Patriot Seafood, who pick up at the dock in Marblehead.

One welcome change that we noticed was the size of the burger. Several ounces have been added, but cost hasn’t. The perky Farnsworth shakes her head. “Four ounces just wasn’t big enough.” Topped with healthy slices of tomato, lettuce, and onion and accompanied by a side of tasty homemade potato chips, it’s a definite improvement.

The portion size on the fish and chips wasn’t skimpy either. The light, crispy batter and hand-cut fries convinced us we’ll have to return to try the clams and shrimp.

We felt bad firing questions at this enthusiastic young couple while they were working out the kinks on their first day, but they took it in stride. Our visit has us looking forward to simpler fare prepared more thoughtfully, better value, and the possibility of fun things like live music and weeknight lobster dinners.

Lime Rickey’s
105 Ocean Ave, Marblehead
https://www.facebook.com/LimeRickeys

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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

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Food, Friends, Wine, Repeat

Posted: September 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Bakery, Cafe, Casual/Pub Food, Christopher's Table, Drinks, Ipswich | Tags: , , | 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.

Christopher’s Table
5 Depot Square Ipswich
www.christopherstable.com
(978) 356-6166

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Pitch-Perfect Pub Grub at Ipswich’s Choate Bridge

Posted: April 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: American, Casual/Pub Food, Choate Bridge Pub, Ipswich, Seafood | Tags: , , , | 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
(978) 356-2931
www.choatebridgepub.com

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The Scotty Dog Brings a Taste of Chicago to Beverly

Posted: July 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Casual/Pub Food, Diner, The Scotty Dog | Tags: , , | 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
(978) 969-3487
www.thescottydog.com

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Blog Off at Mandrake: North Shore Dish v. Good Morning Gloucester

Posted: May 31st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Casual/Pub Food, Mandrake, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , | 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.

Mandrake
252 Cabot St, Beverly
(978) 922-0663
www.mandrakebarbistro.com

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First Look: Marblehead’s Hungry Betty’s

Posted: March 4th, 2011 | Author: | 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.

Hungry Betty’s
161 Pleasant St, Marblehead
(781) 990-3165
www.hungrybettys.com

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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
www.hale-street.com

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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

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