Christopher’s Table Wins Best Chef Award from Beverly Bootstraps

Posted: March 6th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Event, News | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Lobster tarts from Timothy S. Hopkins Catering, colorful bites from Tastebuds Gourmet Foods and an array of treats from The Topsfield Bakeshop.

It was a great night for a great cause—we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at Monday night’s Best Chef 2013 event to benefit Beverly Bootstraps.

We started by perusing the gorgeous silent auction items, then made our way around to each of the food offerings from various North Shore purveyors, caterers, and restaurants. One of favorite tables, Timothy S. Hopkins Catering, ended up winning the people’s choice award. We loved their tiny lobster pastries and delicious toffee-chocolate mousse cups.

The variety on offer was terrific, including smoked mahi ceviche shooters from Red Lulu, healthy grain dishes from Life Alive, and seared tuna on crispy tortillas from Not Your Average Joe’s. There was plenty of food, too, allowing us to go back for seconds and thirds of our favorites.

The teams hard at work. Clockwise from top left: Alchemy Cafe and Bistro, Fibber McGee’s, Christopher’s Table and Chianti Tuscan Restaurant & Jazz Lounge.

As the four chefs competing for Best Chef title prepared their entrées, the live auction got going, with much fanfare. The entire event was extremely well thought out and ran smoothly from start to finish. The Best Chef contestants were Christopher’s Table (Ipswich), Fibber McGees (Beverly), Alchemy Cafe and Bistro (Gloucester) and Chianti Tuscan Restaurant (Beverly).

Top: The judges taste and compare notes. Bottom: The winning dish from Christopher’s Table.

The contestants used ingredients from the Beverly Bootstraps pantry as 75% of their ingredients, with 25% coming from their own kitchens. They were judged on taste, appearance, and the originality of the use of pantry items by Eliana Hussain of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, Sam Hunt of Wild Horse Café, and Paul Guanci of Super Sub Shop of Beverly.

The chef’s creations were wildly imaginative, including goldfish-encrusted spam cooked sous vide from Alchemy and a chicken pot pie with crust made from pumpkin bread mix and Bisquick. But the beautifully plated pho from Christopher’s Table was the judge’s winner. It featured ramen noodles in a broth flavored with peanuts, cilantro, and lime, plus a spring roll accompanied by a hoisin sauce made with grape jelly.

A good time was had by all. (L) Lindsey Sakonchick, Development/Marketing Coordinator for Beverly Bootstraps had everything under control. (Center) Matt Blanchard, new owner/manager of the Wild Horse Café and Mark McDonough, owner of Serenitee Restaurant Group are old friends. (R) Blanchard’s Wild Horse partner and 2012 Best Chef winner, chef Sam Hunt chats with Christopher DeStephano, this year’s winner, as he preps his meal.

It was such a pleasure to see the North Shore turn out for this sold-out, fun-filled event!


February: The Sweetest Month?

Posted: February 1st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Christopher's Table, Event, Finz, Gloucester, Harbor Sweets, Ipswich, News, Red Lulu, Rockport, Salem, Wine Connextion | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

We hope you spent January getting all the holiday excess behind you because February promises to be a great month for indulgence, with or without a sweetheart. There’s one contest to win chocolate, two chocolate tours, and several Valentine’s Day dinner menus.

Wake up your creative side and enter Harbor Sweets’ Valentine’s Day Poem contest—the winner receives the gift-basket (pictured above) of chocolate worth $100 sent directly to their sweetheart. Just write a poem (1,000 words or less) about chocolate and submit it by February 11 to Include your first and last name, phone number, and email. The winner will be notified by February 13 to allow enough time to ship the basket.

Chocolate lovers will want to be in Salem on February 8 for the 11th Annual Chocolate & Wine Tasting. Tickets are on sale now ($25 at the Salem Chamber of Commerce, this event sells out quickly, so don’t wait). From 6:30 to 8:30 at the Colonial Hall, there will be samplings galore from restaurants, stores, and sweet shops. For a taste of what to expect, check out our coverage of the 2011 event. The tasting is part of Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival, which runs from the 8th to the 14th and includes a myriad of offers and tastings.

On February 9, Gloucester hosts its first Downtown Chocolate Tour, marked by retailers with large red hearts on their doors. You can pick up a tour map at Toodeloos, Harbor Goods, or Premier Imprints after February 1. Then simply follow the map to pick up goodies at all the participating stores and bring your completed map to Island Art & Hobby to be entered in a raffle for a Cape Ann gift certificate.

Christopher’s Table in Ipswich is celebrating February 14 with a four-course romance-inspired dinner that includes a wine tasting. They’re following that up with a Crazy Sexy Chocolate party on February 23. This “evening of chocolate decadence with a cash bar” sounds intriguing.

The Valentine’s menu at Finz in Salem has unusual items such as strawberry burratta salad, cocoa-dusted scallops, and duck breast with a ginger/brandied pears/cherry/soy reduction.

Rockport’s Emerson Inn by the Sea always goes all out for Valentine’s Day. This year, the menu features fire-roasted shrimp and corn chowder, beef wellington, duck confit with blackberry reduction, and expresso crème brulée or spiced apple anadama bread pudding.

Red Lulu in Salem promises secret suprises on the 14th, along with a menu that includes spiced lobster bisque grilled endive and frisee salad with spiced candied walnuts and manchego cheese, statler chicken breast with don julio reposado
tequila sauce, and blackened ribeye with creamy polenta and tart cherry sauce

Also in Salem, the Hawthorne Hotel will be serving up Wellfleet oysters, seared tuna with spicy mediterranean-style relish, and Valrhona chocolate torte for two, among other things in a lavish Valentine’s spread.

Last, but certainly not least, Andover’s Wine ConneXtion and China Blossom are collaborating to find help you create a simple, romantic evening with their Take Out to Stay In deal. Place any takeout order from China Blossom before the 14th, and they will contact the Wine ConneXtion to put aside a perfectly paired wine for the order and have it ready for pick up. Or you can peruse the Wine ConneXtion aisles February 10 through February 14 for highlighted wines along with suggestions of the best China Blossom dish for pairing.

So go out and celebrate—we’ll eat healthy in March!


North Shore Nostalgia: Remembering the General Glover House

Posted: January 23rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

I am one of four siblings, and with six at the table during dinner when I was growing up, things could get rowdy at times. Upon seeing a display of shocking manners, my father would shake his head and say, “You’ll never get to the General Glover that way.”

For years, the General Glover remained a mythic place in our minds—a posh eatery we were sure to be kicked out of. However, like many who lived on the North Shore, we did end up going to the General Glover for various celebratory meals over the years.

Named after the famed Revolutionary War general who was born in Salem and lived in Marblehead, the General Glover was an upscale steak house on Route 1A in Swampscott. It was opened in 1957 by restaurant legend Anthony Anathas. (Anathas opened Anthony’s in Lynn in 1937 and Hawthorne by the Sea in Swampscott in 1946. He would go on to open Anthony’s Pier 4 in Boston in 1963.)

Theme restaurants flourished across American roadsides in the 1950s, and the General Glover reflected New England’s favorite theme: the colonial inn. The vast Essex Room featured a huge fireplace, seascapes, and exposed beams hung with all manner of lanterns and copper pots. As kids, we loved that the waitresses were dressed in colonial style, with long dresses and aprons topped by a frilled white cap.

During meals, there was a battalion of those waitresses making their way around the dining room offering various foodstuffs from baskets or trays. The popovers were legendary—fresh, hot, and crisp. The menu consisted of standard steak house fare, and I recall everything being quite good, especially the prime rib, but those popovers are forever remembered as a paragon of baked goods.

The General Glover closed in the late ’90s, and the building has been standing derelict ever since. The Anathas family still owns the property and sporadically uses some of the buildings on it, but the restaurant stands as a deserted reminder of the past. Walking by it recently, we saw the old captain’s chairs stacked by a window, ghosts of the once memorable Essex Room.

Fortunately, the building hasn’t become a hazard like its counterpart in Lynn. City officials have been trying to get the Anathas family to address the crumbling vacant building that once housed the original Anthony’s and has become a danger to pedestrians. It’s mystifying that they have let these properties fall into disrepair.

While I have no idea what the future holds for the General Glover House property, I am happy I that had a chance to be a part of its past.


Wondering What’s New in 2013?

Posted: January 6th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , | No Comments »

I’m sure you’ve noticed things have been a bit slow the past month here at the Dish. Fear not, now that the holidays are over you’ll be hearing from us more often. The good news is that we have been asked to write an occasional column for the Boston Globe North dining section and our first piece came out today, so you can get your Dish fix right here: Fresh North Shore restaurants to explore in 2013


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.


Serving Up a Fresh Dish

Posted: August 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , | No Comments »

You may have noticed we’ve been a bit quiet this summer. Crazy work and vacation scheduling has taken a toll, but now we are refreshed and invigorated and looking forward to putting that energy into the Dish.

To that end, we are looking for your feedback. Since our very first post back in 2008, we haven’t changed very much around here, and we’d like to know your thoughts; what you like about the site, what you don’t, what you want to see more or less of. We started NSD to bring you local restaurant and food news and we want to make sure you enjoy what we’re serving up.

Please give us a hand and take a moment and fill out the following survey:

Survey: Serving Up a Fresh Dish

We look forward to your input!

Kristen and Jill


To Market, to Market…

Posted: June 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Marblehead Farmer's Market, Marketplace, Newburyport Farmer's Market, News, Salem Farmer's Market, Swampscott Farmer's market | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

For many foodies, the start of summer had nothing to do with the calendar or the weather—it’s all about the farmers markets. Personally, we are chomping at the bit. Apparently so are the folks in Newburyport, who had their farmers market opening day May 6th.  Marblehead jumps on the bandwagon this Saturday, June 9 (Veteran’s School, 217 Pleasant St., 9:00 to 12:00), followed by Salem on June 14, along with many others in late June and early July. Salem is held at Derby Square on Front St., Thursdays from 3:00 to 7:00, and Newburyport is at The Tannery Marketplace on Sundays from 9:00 to 1:00.

Many folks are excited that Swampscott is getting its own market this year, starting on June 10. It will be open Sundays through October from 10:00 to 1:00 at the high school. Clark Farm will anchor the market with a large variety of produce; John Crow Farms, Maitland Mountain Farms (known for their pickles and flowers), Fille de Ferme (homemade jams and jellies), Cherry Street Fish Market, and Big Sky Breads round out the initial group of vendors.

If you aren’t familiar with John Getting’s terrific resource North Shore Locavore, you should click on through and check it out. Not only does John keep a full list of farmers markets, he  continually updates with great information on farms stands, CSAs and local foods all over the North Shore.

Please let us know about your favorite market or vendor in the comments or by email. We’ll be visiting markets all over the North Shore this summer and posting about our finds.


One Week in August

Posted: August 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Drinks, Event, News | Tags: | No Comments »

We’re excited about this weekend, which marks the start of the first annual North Shore Wine Week. The kickoff party is Saturday at Wine ConneXtion; information on the event is here. Andover’s Brasserie 28 will be serving up food samples that day, and Chef Matt Morello is the culinary chair of the entire event.

Morello said he’s slightly surprised by how well the concept has been received. “We have more than 30 restaurants, which is a great showing for the first year. I think when you offer a good product, it’s exciting to be able to partner with others who feel the same way.”

Morello said the theme behind his offerings at the kickoff party is smoke. One non-traditional element of each dish will be lightly smoked, including bourbon and tomatoes. At the restaurant, which Morello owns with his wife, there will be four flights of wine from its Napa wine station, which keeps wine temperature controlled and under pressure with argon gas, rather than in bottles. “This lets us offer amazing wines that most people can only buy by the bottle. It’s the freshest glass of wine—like opening a new bottle every time,” said Morello.

The Serenitee Restaurant Group is varying its Wine Week offerings by restaurant. At Alchemy in Gloucester, Sommelier Matt Rose has created a tapas pairing menu and is offering wines by the glass from the cellar list that are only available by the bottle during the rest of the year. At Latitude 43, you’ll find a raw bar pairing menu featuring oysters and sushi. And at Hamilton’s 15 Walnut just before the event (Thursday night), there’s a $50 five-course farm dinner with half glass wine and beer pairings for every course for $3 each.

At 62 Restaurant and Wine Bar (which will also be serving up samples on Saturday), Chef Tony Bettencourt is focusing on the relationship between food and wine. “Old world wines, or European wines, tend to pair better with food, but I wanted heighten the awareness of the lesser known varietals that people may not see as often,” said Bettencourt. “By pairing the dishes with these wines, diners can experience firsthand how pairing the right wine with food can make each better.”

The complete schedule of events is here, and if you make it to the kickoff party on Saturday, please make it a point to say hello–we love to meet readers and talk about our favorite restaurants.


Dish Scoop: Fried Clams Now Available on Your iPhone

Posted: August 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: News, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The North Shore has always been known for its seafood. From Gloucester’s docks to Marblehead’s lobster boats, people have historically headed up the coast for the freshest fish, crispiest fried clams, and most luscious lobster. In fact, there are so many options, it can sometimes be difficult navigating them all. Until now.

The North of Boston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (NBCVB) has just launched a free iPhone app to “Help ‘Lobsta’ lovers and clambake connoisseurs to find their fill North of Boston.”  Funded by the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, the app is based on the Seafood Trail originally listed on the cultural tourism website Escapes North.

“People are hungry for instant info in the palm of their hands. We are thrilled to provide an easy way to learn about all that Essex County has to offer in terms of food and fun,” said NBCVB Executive Director Sue Ann Pearson. “It not only helps promote Massachusetts as a premiere travel destination, but also highlights the many wonderful culinary options to explore in the North of Boston area. Visitors and locals can download the Seafood Trail app to discover where to eat, what to do, and other tasty tidbits.”

And did we mention they provide an easy link to a certain local food blog? All kidding aside, we are very excited to be a part of the project because it fits so well with our mission—to promote the food scene on the North Shore.

One of our most frequently asked questions is where to find good seafood. And to answer that question we always need ask a few of our own. Where do you want to eat? What kind of seafood are you looking for? What kind of atmosphere? Now you can peruse all the options right there on your phone.

What’s cool is that the app not only lists restaurants by town, but also has mapping, GPS locations, direct links to the restaurant websites, and an easy click-to-call function. The eateries listed run the gamut from clam shacks to more upscale options, and it notes nearly beaches and parks to round out your coastal day trip. NVCVB plans to continue developing the app and adding more information, so if you’re looking for seafood North of Boston, download before you hit the road!

You can find the app here at Escapes North.


Weekend Picks, April 1-3

Posted: April 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Marblehead, News, Salem | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

After a few quiet weeks, there are a slew of interesting food events this weekend.

First up is Salem’s Spring Fling on Saturday from 6:00 to 9:00 in Salem Old Town Hall. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door and include craft beer from Magic Hat, Ipswich, Stone Cat, Cape Ann Brewing, Clown Shoes, and more. There will also be wine from Pamplemousse and Market Wine & Spirits and food and desserts from several Salem favorites, including 62 Restaurant, Lobster Shanty, Victoria Station, Café Polonia, Gulu-Gulu Café, and Greenland Café. This is an over-21 event featuring music from Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket. Tickets are available at several Salem locations and online here.

Also that night is the Art Auction to benefit the Marblehead Festival of Arts. The silent auction begins at 5:00 at Abbot Hall, followed by a live auction at 7:30. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door; they include hors d’oeuvres and wine tasting during the first part of the evening, and dessert and coffee later on. More information is here.

This weekend is the beginning of an epic Salem Restaurant Week, which runs Sunday through Thursday and has been extended to run the following Sunday through Thursday as well (April 10 to 14). Meals are $15 for two courses and $25 for three courses. A complete list of restaurants is here.

Last but not least, this weekend marks the end of prohibition in Salem. Well, the winter kind, anyway. All the restaurants with partial and seasonal liquor licenses can begin serving again on April 1, and they are celebrating. The Lobster Shanty is throwing an opening day open mic shindig and rolling out a new menu, and 62 Restaurant and Wine Bar is unveiling their spring cocktail list. 62 will be serving complimentary hors d’oeuvres from 5:00 to 7:00 in the lounge. After 7:00, they’ll serve a complimentary signature spuntino with each drink purchased from the new cocktail menu in the lounge.

From 8:30 to 11:00 over at Howling Wolf, there will be free Mexican wings and buffalo wings. Lee Hawkins will be singing the blues, and there’s a raffle for Red Sox and Revolution tickets. And starting at 8:00, there’ll be live music by Clay Ventre and the Bond Girls and complimentary passed hors d’oeuvres at Café Polonia.

So ignore any white stuff that happens to be falling from the sky today and get out there and enjoy!

We’ve also got some great things to do from our pals in the  North Shore Bloggers Consortium:

Seth is all over Lynn at Lynn Happens.

Jane Ward has some great ideas for  this weekend.

Kimmy has her weekend picks in addition to another great recipe over at Lighter and Local.