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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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North Shore Holiday Happenings

Posted: December 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Blue Ox, Boston Local Market, Enzo, Event, Nathaniel's at the Hawthorne Hotel, Smolak Farms, Victoria Station | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

There are a slew of culinary-related holiday events in the next few weeks, so let’s dive right in.

First up is the Holiday Local Market from 11:00 to 5:00 on Saturday. It’s in Boston but includes North Shore vendors Lark Fine Foods, Chococoa, and Blue Egg Baking Company. Go here for more information and to RSVP.

On Tuesday the 13th at 5:00, Victoria’s Station is hosting the 18th annual Salem Children’s Charity event. All proceeds from the event (which includes food, celebrities, auctions, and surprise guests) go to the less fortunate school children of Salem. $15 cover charge per person.

Rockport’s Christmas Pageant is taking place on Saturday the 17th, and the Emerson Inn is offering a three-course prime rib dinner from 5:00 to close for $33. They are donating 10% of the sales from this event to the Rockport Christmas Tree Committee. The are also offering a five-course New Year’s Eve dinner for $75 per person with selections like rack of lamb and shrimp florentine.

Also on the 17th, you can make your own gingerbread house at Smolak Farms in North Andover. The event is from 10:00 to 12:00 and costs $40. Call (978) 682-6332 to reserve a spot.

The Hawthorne Hotel is holding a number of holiday events, including a Teddy Bear Tea on the 17th, Brunch with Santa on the 11th and the 18th, as well as Christmas Eve dinner and a Christmas Day buffet brunch. Some friends of ours celebrated Thanksgiving at the hotel and raved about it. Check their events page for details.

Finally, the folks at Enzo in Newburyport are offering a traditional feast of the seven fishes on Friday the 23rd and Saturday the 24th. The menu includes house-smoked bluefish pate, lasagna with anchovy (a traditional Piemontese Christmas Eve pasta), broiled clams and mussels, and much more for $50 per person. Enzo is also planning a New Year’s Eve dinner where diners can select from one of four offerings for each course. Personally, we’re interested in the duck conserva raviolo with egg yolk, duck sugo, and crisp leeks and the crema fritta with chocolate sauce and gianduja gelato. The cost is $65 per person, and wine pairings will be available.

One final note—we’d like to congratulate Lynn’s Blue Ox for being named one of the top 100 American fare restaurants in the US by OpenTable. Fantastic news!

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Beat the Winter Blues With Local Food Events

Posted: January 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 62 Restaurant & Winebar, Blue Ox, Event, Finz, Lynn, Marblehead, Salem, Swampscott | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The holidays are over and that means it’s time for food events to kick into high gear here on the North Shore. Our heads are swimming just looking what’s going on in January and February. And that’s without considering Valentine’s Day specials, which we’ll cover separately.

On Tuesday January 18 at 7:00, Chef Matt O’Neil will be doing a cooking demo and three-course tasting at The Blue Ox in Lynn ($39). There will be a mache salad with braised beets, walnuts, parmesan, blood oranges, and blood orange vinaigrette followed by butter-poached lobster and porcini/saffron quinoa. For dessert, a honey cake with chocolate, raspberry puree, and whipped cream. We’re salivating already. Call (781) 780-5722 to reserve a space.

The next Tuesday, January 25, Finz in Salem is putting on a vodka dinner hosted by Pinnacle Vodka at 6:30 ($59). It begins with oysters accompanied by a mango vodka-blood orange puree cocktail. Next is an Asian scallop ceviche with a lychee martini, mojito grilled swordfish with a berry vodka mojito, and espresso rubbed tenderloin with a caliente café martini. Dessert is a Pinnacle and strawberry sorbet with strawberry Pop Rocks. Sounds like a taxi may be in order after this one.

Vodka is also the star of Red Rock’s Tuesday Tasting on the 25th at 7:00 ($25 including tax and gratuity). Russian Standard Original, Platinum and Imperial vodkas will be featured in six cocktails. Russian-influenced appetizers like smoked trout, oysters, salmon roe caviar, dark pastrami, gravlox, pickled beets, and herring will accompany the drinks. Break out your (faux) fur hat and head on over to Swampscott.

On Saturday January 29 at 6:30, Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead hosts its annual Taste of the North Shore ($60). The event includes an all-you-can-eat buffet with specialties from North Shore restaurants and caterers, a silent auction, and a live auction. For more information, call (781) 631-9300 or e-mail taste@emanu-el.org.

Mary Ann Esposito of Ciao Italia visits 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar in Salem on Sunday January 30 at 6:30. For $75, attendees will enjoy a cooking demonstration by Chef Antonio Bettencourt and Ms. Esposito, a multi-course dinner, and a signed copy of her latest book Ciao Italia: Five-Ingredient Favorites. Call (978) 744-0062 for a reservation. Sounds like a true Italian extravaganza.

Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival begins on Friday February 4th with a chocolate and wine tasting at Hamilton Hall from 6:30 to 8:30 ($25). Tickets are on sale at the Salem Chamber of Commerce office, 265 Essex Street Mon-Fri from 9:00 to 5:00 and will be on sale the night of the event based on availability (the event sold out last year). Sugar rush, here we come.

On Tuesday February 8 Red Rock’s Tuesday Tastings is USA Craft Beers ($25 including tax and gratuity. At 7:00, Local beer master Kyle Sartanowicz will offer expert commentary while attendees taste six outstanding made-in-the-USA beers with foods to match.

Last but not least, on Thursday February 10 at 6:00, Caffe Graziani in Salem is hosting an international wine  dinner featuring a five-course meal and an abundance of French, Italian, and Argentinean wines. The full menu is posted here. The cost is $75, and space is limited. Call (978) 741-4282 for information and reservations.

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Our Valentine’s Crush: The Blue Ox

Posted: February 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bistro, Blue Ox, Lynn | Tags: , , | No Comments »

We had planned to take a night off from reviewing when we headed to dinner on Saturday night for a Valentine’s Day treat. But we had such a great meal at The Blue Ox that we’d be remiss not to tell you about it.

Feeling in a celebratory mood, we chose Matt O’Neil’s $39 prix fixe menu, which included two options for each of the three courses. The cauliflower soup was outstanding: creamy and smoky with a generous serving of bay scallops. Not loving frisee, we were skeptical about the salad but wanted something light before the pasta entrée. As it turns out, we don’t mind frisee one bit when it’s dressed in a maple vinaigrette and accompanied by fantastic duck prosciutto, tangy blue cheese, sweet apricots, and salty pistachios—an incredible combination.

Our main courses were also highly satisfying. The grilled filet mignon was properly cooked to medium rare and kissed with a flavorful port wine glaze. A heaping serving of mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus were perfect accompaniments. Just as good were the firm but light potato gnocchi with a generous portion of lobster and a wonderful sauce of butternut squash, mascarpone, and parmigiano.

Yes, we were too full for dessert, but we had to at least sample the mascarpone cheesecake (to die for) and the decadent chocolate layer cake with whipped-cream filling.

Given that it was Saturday night on Valentine’s Day weekend, we half-expected to run into kitchen missteps and/or harried waitstaff. We’re happy to report this was not the case. Despite a very crowded dining room, our waitress was smiling and calm throughout, and we never felt rushed or neglected.

With O’Neil’s obvious talent and reasonable prices for this quality of food (entrées run from $15 to $19), the crowds are no surprise. Still, opening this type of restaurant in downtown Lynn was a risk, so we’re glad to see that diners are not letting the location get in the way of a terrific meal.

Next Tuesday (2/23) at 7:00, O’Neil is holding a demonstration on deboning a chicken and preparing a chicken roulade. The cost is $35, which includes a three-course meal of escarole soup, the chicken roulade, and almond cream cake. We attended an earlier demonstration and found it informative and fun—you can read about it here. Call if you want to reserve a spot, as these tend to sell out.

The Blue Ox
191 Oxford Street, Lynn
(781) 780-5722
www.theblueoxlynn.com

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Blue Ox’s Matt O’Neil Knows His Gnocchi

Posted: June 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Blue Ox, Event, Lynn | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Potato gnocchi, pea puree, ham, mint, mascarpone. Sound like spring on a plate? It was, and it tasted even better than it sounds. This was the main event at last night’s cooking demonstration at The Blue Ox in Lynn.

Chef/owner Matt O’Neil charmed an audience of about 40 with both his cooking advice and his food at this special event ($29). We had expected more of a stand-around-watching-the-chef type of demonstration and were pleasantly surprised when we were led to a table and handed a wine list along with the night’s menu and several recipes to take home.

We tried the house white ($5.50), a dry blended wine that’s very good for the price, while snacking on an antipasto of sopressata, prosciutto de parma, fresh mozzarella, shaved parmesan, roasted peppers and asparagus, grilled artichokes, and aged balsamic.

Then Chef O’Neil began demonstrating the gnocchi recipe on a large table at the front of the room. While he worked, he gave us tips on many of the ingredients he uses in the restaurant along with things to avoid when making gnocchi.

Here are a few take-aways from the chef:

  • Use kosher salt or sea salt that has not been iodized. The iodizing process changes the salt, preventing it from drawing out moisture from food you are trying to sear.
  • Splurge on a bottle of aged balsamic. You only need a few drops in a salad or antipasto, so a small bottle will last quite a while.
  • Likewise, spend the money to get a good bottle of fruity olive oil, not for cooking but for salads and adding to pasta or gnocchi. O’Neil uses one from Greece.
  • With the right ingredients, it’s easy to “doctor up” something like a jar of roasted peppers. Just sprinkle with lemon juice, good olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • For gnocchi, use Russet or Idaho potatoes, bake them in the oven, and rice them while they are hot.
  • For extra flavor, O’Neil drizzles a tablespoon of good olive oil into the gnocchi dough when he adds the eggs. He also adds a small amount of freshly grated nutmeg.
  • He cautions never to overwork the dough. It should still be bit rough when you begin rolling it out, or the final product will be chewy rather than fluffy.
  • After rolling the gnocchi (O’Neil uses a fork for this), place them on a sheet pan sprinkled with semolina flour. All-purpose flour would get absorbed into the dough and make it gummy.
  • To freeze the gnocchi, put them in the freezer still on the tray. Once frozen, you can pack them in a plastic bag or container.

At the end of the demonstration, we were invited to try rolling out dough and forming the gnocchi up at the front table, and then we were served a steaming bowl with the aforementioned sauce and ham. The gnocchi were tender, the sauce was to-die-for delicious, and the mint puree drizzled on top added incredible freshness. The main course was followed by a cannoli with a crisp shell and an extra-creamy filling.

O’Neil, a Swampscott native who now lives in Nahant, is clearly one of the area’s top culinary talents. We look forward to returning to sample the dinner menu, which the chef describes as American style with a twist. The main dining room features a handsome bar area and the gorgeous art of Martha’s Vineyard-based painter Traeger DiPietro. There is a free parking lot a few yards away from the front door.

After seeing Chef O’Neil in action, we’re also hoping for more cooking demonstrations. Eating, drinking and learning—the perfect way to spend an evening.

The Blue Ox
191 Oxford Street, Lynn
(781) 780-5722
www.theblueoxlynn.com

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