Hits and Misses at Salem’s Green Land Café

Posted: January 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bistro, Green Land Cafe, Salem | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments »

There are a lot of things that appeal to us about Green Land Café in Salem, including the warm décor with exposed brick and old hardwood floors, the creative menu, and the emphasis on local ingredients. We had had lunch there during the summer and really enjoyed the meal, so expectations were high during our visit last weekend. Unfortunately only some of the food lived up to those expectations.

Our meal started off well. We were pleased to see an Oregon Pinot Gris on the wine list ($8), and it was delicious. The cocktail list is extensive and includes a slew of classics like The Sazerac and the Singapore Sling along with signature drinks like the Fig-a-Rita and the Harvest Moon (featuring pear vodka, fig syrup, and fresh orange).

We sampled the Ode to New York ($10), a twist on the Manhattan made with cynar bitters, and a Dirty Sexy Dirty with maytag-stuffed olives ($12). Both were well made and good sized. Alongside was outstanding artisan bread paired with delicious honey butter. Our starter was also very good: crispy flatbread topped with mushrooms, Vermont goat cheese, and truffle honey ($12). We didn’t get much of a sweet note, but the crust was great and the mushrooms were tasty.

All of the entrees are priced reasonably, and there’s a good selection, including a chef’s cut of beef from Maine’s Pineland Farms and several vegetarian options. But some of the portions were small, and several of the dishes lacked flavor. The New England scallops were fresh and tender, but the accompanying butternut squash risotto was completely bland ($21). The roasted organic chicken came with mashed potatoes, asparagus, and basil cream ($19). The skin was tasty and crispy, but the meat was a bit dry.

We likewise were disappointed by the Pineland New York sirloin ($23), which was not tender and had an unpleasant amount of gristle. The roasted fennel and parsnip fettuccini was the best of the evening, with an earthy wild-mushroom sauce perfectly balanced by tangy pecorino romano ($16).

The desserts, although good sized, were once again flat. We tried the flourless chocolate cake and the chocolate bread pudding, both $6.

Since the bar was hopping as we left, and we’ve heard good things about the tapas menu, we hope the Green Land kitchen can bring its dinner offerings up to the level of the drinks and starters.

Green Land Café
87 Washington Street, Salem
(978) 744-7766
www.thegreenlandcafe.com

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Turbine’s Bar Food is Beyond the Ordinary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5 Corners Kitchen: Former Aquitaine Chef Shares His Vision for New Marblehead Eatery

Posted: March 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: 5 Corners Kitchen, Bistro, Marblehead | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments »

3262010bAlthough the North Shore has been experiencing something of a restaurant renaissance lately, Marblehead hasn’t really seen much activity in its dining scene—until now, that is. Marblehead resident Barry Edelman plans to change that by bringing enthusiasm, fresh ideas, and his passion for food to 2 School Street.

A former chef de cuisine at Aquitaine in Boston, Edelman had recently moved to Bistro du Midi in the Back Bay. When that didn’t work out as planned, he decided it was time to make his personal vision a reality and open his own restaurant.

As real estate agents have drilled into us, it’s all about location, and in that respect Edelman hit the jackpot. The former Ladycakes Bakery space sits precisely in the middle of the action at the Five Corners intersection. As Edelman says “When you walk into a space, you want to feel good energy.” With antique architectural charm, high pressed-tin ceilings, large windows, and a corner front door, the space has great potential. The clincher? Edelman can walk to work.

A hands-on guy with boundless energy, he is managing the renovation on his own, and I found him earlier this week with hammer in hand and plaster dust covering his jeans. He showed me around the space, which will feature a bar and dining room, accommodating about 40 people between the two. The kitchen is small, but being both owner and chef, he’s designed it to work for his style.

And what is his style? Despite a background long on French cuisine, Edelman says “I take pride in the simple things, I am going to be doing a lot of humble ingredients. My style is whatever’s good, whatever’s fresh, whatever’s local. I want 5 Corners Kitchen to be a place where people are happy, enjoy themselves, eat well, and not feel they’ve been robbed,” he said.

Edelman’s passion for this type of cooking is obvious. “Sometimes chefs feel like they’ve gotta be creative and do some crazy concoction,” he said. “I want to use fresh, local ingredients in a way t­hat makes sense. I’m someone who cooks a little bit more classically and tries to nail the way it should be done.”

Fresh is a word Edelman repeats like a mantra. And he’s serious about the local aspect. “I told my seafood vendor, ‘I’m the guy you’re going to want to call when you’ve got skate.’ Nobody uses skate or monkfish—local stuff like that comes from our waters.”

As spring unfolds, many more local foods will be available, of course. “I want to use the stuff that actually comes from here. We live in a beautiful place that has so many great farms,” Edelman said. “In the spring, you can bet I’ll be at the farmers’ markets every week.” He also hopes to be able to offer handcrafted charcuterie.

Right now, the plan is to offer six or seven appetizers and entrees very moderately priced, with entrees under $20. The menu will change almost constantly to accommodate foods that are fresh and in season. Like the main menu, the wine list will be small, clean, concise, and ever-changing, as well as affordably priced.

Edelman feels strongly about keeping his prices reasonable and says he’ll be able to do this because he’s not paying Boston rental prices. He wants to provide a city experience in terms of food and service but at a North Shore price point.

“The things I’m going to focus on don’t cost any extra money,” he said. “To properly season and cook a piece of fish doesn’t cost any extra. To greet someone at the door and make sure their server is attentive without being intrusive doesn’t cost anything.”

5 Corners Kitchen will initially be open for dinner and for a “good old-fashioned brunch with proper omelets” from 10:00 to 3:00 on both Saturdays and Sundays. Eventually, Edelman hopes to offer lunch as well. Right now, the target date for opening is May 1. From the look of things, Edelman has his work cut out for him to meet that date, but if he can create a comfortable room that offers interesting fresh food with great service at reasonable prices, we’ll be the first in line, whenever it opens.

Edited 5/11/10; 5 Corners Kitchen is slated to open tomorrow, May 12th, for dinner.

Edited 5/28/10; Our review of 5 Corners Kitchen has been posted.

5 Corners Kitchen
2 School Street, Marblehead
www.5cornerskitchen.com

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Plum Island Grille’s Menu is as Captivating as Their View

Posted: November 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Newbury, Plum Island Grille, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Last weekend the weather was so gorgeous that we just had to get outdoors. On a whim, we decided to head to Plum Island for a walk along the beach and marshes. By the time we got ourselves out there, it was almost noon, and we were in need of a meal before anything else. The logical choice was of course the Plum Island Grille, which opens for a jazz brunch at noon on Sundays.

The restaurant has rustic beach feel with both a pretty dining room and a great enclosed porch with an incredible view, which is where we were seated. One look at the menu tells you that despite the casual atmosphere, the food goes far beyond ordinary beach fare. Both the brunch and dinner menus have lighter fare, more substantial meals, and a good range of starters, all with reasonable prices.

We started with an obligatory bloody mary, the wild mushroom turnovers ($12), and the fresh PEI mussels ($10). The turnover was filled with organic wild mushrooms in a light sauce and served with truffled gouda sour cream and tomato salsa. While quite tasty, the deep fried wonton like shell was a bit incongruous; a baked pie crust pastry would have suited it better. The mussels, simmered in a Thai green curry and coconut milk broth and finished with fresh cilantro and mint, were delightful. The freshness of the herbs enhanced the curry, and the broth didn’t overwhelm the shellfish.

For entrees, we chose the swordfish burger with tapenade and aioli ($15) and the duck confit served with warm goat cheese, trumpet royale mushrooms, and lardon with a poached pear jam ($16) The swordfish, which was served with fries and field greens, was expertly grilled; tender and juicy with the tapenade lending a bit of a piquant kick. The duck was absolutely delicious, rich and savory. In combination with the sautéed bacon and mushrooms, it was downright luxurious. The warm goat cheese turned out to be a fried ball, but it wasn’t heavy or greasy, and the pear jam offered a lovely accent.

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The restaurant faces Sunset Boulevard, and aside from conjuring up visions of Norma Desmond, there is a reason for the street’s name. It runs along the salt marshes that line the western side of the island, over which the setting sun provides a spectacular vision. Plum Island Grille overlooks this idyll, making it not only a good stop for terrific food, but one of most memorable places on the North Shore to relax with a drink and watch the sun go down.

Plum Island Grille
2 Plum Island Blvd, Newbury
(978) 463-2290
www.plumislandgrille.com

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Newburyport’s Port Tavern Aims for Comfort

Posted: September 22nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Casual/Pub Food, Newburyport, Port Tavern | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

On our recent trip to Newburyport to visit the farmer’s market, we decided to stop at Port Tavern for a late lunch. This is just our kind of place—lots of comfort food selections, an excellent burger, and a comfortable atmosphere. Our visit was marred by poor service, but we’ll assume that’s not the norm, as others in the restaurant appeared well tended to.

We thoroughly enjoyed the fish and chips ($13), which had a generous portion of fish and steak fries that were crisp on the outside and creamy inside. We also liked the shepard’s pie ($12), which had robust beef flavor and a creamy potato topping.

The aforementioned burger ($9) was juicy and had great charred flavor, a good bun, and fresh lettuce/tomato on the side. Sandwich orders come with a choice of 10 sides, including garlic mashed potatoes and onion rings. We went with the baked potato, but it came completely plain, which was odd. (We weren’t asked about toppings when we ordered, and none came on the side).

We also ordered the white truffle mac and cheese, which turned out to be gemelli in a terrific, cheesy/earthy sauce. But the parmesan breadcrumb crust on the menu description somehow turned into a few crushed crackers sprinkled on top.

We liked the fact that diners are given lots of choices, including those sides (which you can order on their own for $3) and four types of bread for panini sandwiches like the grilled chicken and pear ($8). We didn’t like paying $2.50 for coffee or waiting more than 45 minutes for our food.

We’re guessing our waitress forgot to put in our order since nearby diners received their food in reasonable time and she ignored us the entire time we waited, refusing to meet our hungry gazes. All that was needed was an apology and a basket of bread, but neither were forthcoming.

We recommend giving this place a try when you’re in the area, just be aware that service may be spotty, so if you find yourself neglected, don’t hesitate to ask for the manager. (We chose not to since we keep a low profile when eating at a restaurant we plan to blog about.)

Port Tavern
84 State St, Newburyport
(978) 465-1006
www.theporttavern.com

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Mandrake Does Bar Food Right

Posted: July 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Beverly, Casual/Pub Food, Mandrake | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

We’d been by Mandrake in Beverly many times but had never ventured in. To be honest, we were a bit put off by Mandrake’s curtained windows and dark exterior. Don’t make the mistake we did—Mandrake’s interior is warmly lit and welcoming, the service is outstanding, and the bar food is reasonable and delicious.

Sitting down at the bar last weekend, we were immediately served glasses of water (we love when that happens) and a large paper cone of house-made spicy potato chips and asked if we wanted to see menus. After a long day of yard work, we did.

Between the appetizers and sandwiches, Mandrake has a great selection for those in the mood to snack rather than dine. (There are plenty of entrees we may return for, along with several specials that looked good, all in the $20 to $25 range.)

We almost went for the nachos grande ($11) and later wished we had, as it looked great. We tried the olive/hummus plate ($7) along with a couple of sandwiches. The large portion of hummus had good texture, the olives were plentiful, and the pita was warm and crispy.

The surf and turf sliders—one crabcake, one petit filet—are a good dinner value at $14, served with a mound of crispy sweet potato fries. Both sliders were excellent; the crabcake was tender inside and crispy outside, and the perfectly cooked beef was topped with béarnaise aioli. The generous, crispy Gloucester fish sandwich, also with sweet potato fries, was only $10.

We were well attended by the bar staff all evening, starting with an immediate offer of a taste when we asked about one of the white wines (followed by a full pour of our selection). The sidecar we ordered came with an assurance it would be remade if unacceptable, since it’s not a popular request. Although it wasn’t right (on the rocks rather than straight up), we somehow managed. We were pleased at the price of the 40 cl Stella Artois ordered later: only $3.50.

A couple of final notes. Mandrake offers select menu items for half price every day except Saturday from 5:00 to 7:00. Also, the Web site seems to be under construction, and the menus aren’t available at the moment.

Mandrake Bar Bistro
252 Cabot St, Beverly
(978) 922-0663
www.mandrakebeverly.com

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P.S. If you’re walking along Cabot Street after dinner and are tempted by the authentic-looking gelato at Trevi Coffee & Tea, don’t be fooled. For $2.75, we received a small cup of what tasted like ice milk.

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Take the Cygnet Challenge

Posted: June 1st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Beverly, Cygnet | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

cyg1We’ve got a challenge for all you foodies on the North Shore: go to Cygnet and try not to have a good time. Having spent an extremely enjoyable evening there last weekend, we don’t think it can be done.

It starts with the bar, which has got to be the best looking north of Boston, or close to it. And its beauty is more than skin deep: our Kettle One martini was large, chilled to perfection, and accompanied by crunchy olives. Likewise, the Lemon Drop ($11) was perfectly mixed, and the margarita on the rocks was so good we could hardly taste the tequila (but we sure could feel it).

It continues with the comfortable dining room—thick carpet, wood paneling, fun artwork, upholstered settees paired with comfortable single chairs—and the terrific service. Our waitress was energetic without being annoying, happy to leave us alone as we enjoyed our cocktails and perused the menu.

We finally settled on the duck spring rolls ($13, good but not great) and the corn crab cakes (also $13 and a must-have: crunchy, tender, and highly satisfying). We briefly thought about soup, but at $8 a bowl (!) decided to pass.

The star entrée of the evening was a wonderfully tender beef filet with a cabernet reduction. Cooked beautifully, it had perfect texture and was complimented extremely well by the sauce. We also enjoyed the soy-glazed sea scallops; they were large and meltingly tender, but the saltiness of the glaze needed to be cut by some acid or sweetness. The fish in our fish and chips was generous, fresh, and lightly breaded, and the fries were just right.

All of the entrees were in the $20 to $30 range (exact prices not recorded—blame those drinks), and we loved the fact that we could choose any two sides from a selection of about 10. The outstanding choice was the creamy sweet corn risotto.

We really didn’t need dessert, but we were having too good a time not to try the warm chocolate cake, which was accompanied by a fantastic scoop of hazelnut ice cream.

Located on winding route 127, Cygnet is off the beaten path for many, but if you feel like a relaxing drive on a warm summer evening, the excellent food and intimate atmosphere make it a great destination.

Cygnet
24 West Street, Beverly Farms
(978) 922-9221
http://cygnetrestaurant.com/
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Salem’s Lobster Shanty Is More Than Meets the Eye

Posted: May 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Casual/Pub Food, Lobster Shanty, Salem, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

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After running some early evening errands in Salem on Friday, we passed the Lobster Shanty and decided to stop for a bite. A local dive bar lauded by Yelp-ers as the best place around to get drunk with your dog, the Shanty advertises “warm beer, lousy food, surly waitresses, rude bartenders and cranky cooks.” How could we not investigate?

The place is one of the tiny buildings in Artist’s Row, so the actual bar is relatively small, but what draws locals on summer nights is the good-sized patio area with free live music on weekends. We opted to sit outside and perused the very reasonable drinks menu, choosing a Belfast Bay Lobster Ale ($4.25) and a specialty cocktail, The Perfect Storm ($7.50), that turned out to be a tasty rum punch with a nice kick.

Along with the requisite boiled lobster and fried seafood offerings, the menu provides a wide range of choices, including grilled pizzas ($7-$9), gourmet burgers ($7-$10), and entrees ($13-$20) We got a chance to chat with executive chef Diane Wolf, who co-owns the Shanty with her husband, Lee. When they bought the place two years ago from the previous owner, she told us the menu was very limited, and she couldn’t resist having a little fun with it.

So while it boasts about limp salads and the tepid sodas, The Shanty’s menu actually reflects creativity and quality not found in your standard pub food; a burger dredged in sesame seeds and cracked black pepper and topped with gorgonzola, grass-fed Guinness-soaked steak tips, and side dishes like wilted spinach and bacon and grilled seasonal veggies. All of the seafood is bought from local fishermen, and Wolf said they make their own mozzarella.

We ordered the calamari ($10) to start, the lobster roll ($17) with a side of the spinach and bacon, and a fishwich ($7) with sweet potato fries and an extra side of pickled beets. The teenaged member of our party ordered the chicken tenders and fries basket.

The calamari was terrific, lightly breaded and very tender. Our only disappointment was that it wasn’t a larger portion—we inhaled it in short order. The chicken basket was pub standard, but the fries were salted with what looked like sea salt, a nice touch.

fishfriesThe lobster roll was what a lobster roll should be: chock full of meat, not overly dressed or seasoned, served on a toasted hot dog bun (we’re sticklers on that point). The piece of fish in the sandwich was good-sized, lightly breaded, and crisp. Our server, a smiling young man who answered to the name of Betty (!?), forgot the tartar sauce but was highly apologetic about it. The spinach and bacon was lovely, and the sweet potato fries were divine. Delicious and crispy with large flakes of salt, we would return on their merit alone.

In truth, there are many reasons to return to The Shanty. Yes, it’s a small unassuming place with some surly looking characters haunting the kitchen, but we found the staff genial, the food tasty, and the prices excellent. (Wolf told us that with an eye to the current economy, they’re staying with last year’s prices). With outdoor seating, music on weekends, inexpensive drinks and snacks as well as the more gourmet options, we’re thinking it’s a great place to chill on a summer night. Whether or not you bring your dog is up to you.

The Lobster Shanty
25 Front St. (At Artist’s Row) Salem
(978) 754-5449
http://lobstershantysalem.com

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Down on The Farm: New Essex Eatery Shows Promise

Posted: April 24th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Casual/Pub Food, Essex, Farm Bar & Grille | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

ribs2When we drove into the parking lot of The Farm Bar and Grille, the new Essex eatery, at 6:30 last night, we were lucky to find a space. We wondered whether the jammed lot was because it was new, good, or simply the only neighborhood bar.  Inside, we realized there was something else we hadn’t considered: thirty-five-cent wing night. Yep, that’s right, Thursday nights at The Farm feature wings for just thirty-five cents apiece, and the sizable bar was packed with both young and old taking advantage of this deal while sampling the many beers available on tap.

We were seated in the dining room, which was about half full when we arrived and at capacity by the time we left. The room has a nice open feel to it with big windows, warm tones, vintage farm tools adorning the walls and a vast chalkboard filling the rear wall. This isn’t a quiet romantic dinner place; it’s a big boisterous family and friends place.

While the much of the beer selection was listed on the blackboard, when asked about wine our waitress said there was no wine list, but recited a handful of reds and whites. We opted to try a few of the brews and also ordered a Sidecar from the bar, which tasted oddly of Benedictine, so was likely made with B&B ifarm21nstead of brandy.

We felt compelled to start off with some of the wings, which required a minimum order of six and were available in buffalo, BBQ, or honey mustard. We opted for the buffalo, which were meaty, hot but not eye watering, and accompanied by homemade blue cheese sauce that was marvelous.

The menu was short and to the point, focusing on comfort food at very reasonable prices. There was no kids’ menu, but we were told that burgers and mac and cheese were available in less expensive smaller portions for children.

The burger ($9) was fresh and juicy, piled high with bacon but missing the cheese, which was quickly rectified. Also missing was a pear salad that never arrived, but truthfully we didn’t notice once the other entrees were served. The rack of smoked babyback ribs, ($22) were very impressive—a huge portion falling off the plate. They were tender and meaty, wet-style with a tangy sauce and excellent flavor. We also tried the grilled salmon topped with cilantro olive oil infused oranges. ($16) The oranges were unremarkable, without much cilantro taste, but the salmon itself was delicious. It was moist and rich, enhanced by the subtle smoky grilled flavor. The grilled seasonal vegetables were also quite good, especially the zucchini spears. All of the entrees were served with hand-cut french fries, generous and tasty.

Alas, we were disappointed when told that the restaurant had already run out of all of the desserts except apple crisp. However, when the junior member of the party ordered an ice cream, it arrived as a mini sundae, complete with whipped cream and a cherry.farm-sign

The Farm has only been open a week and the owners are still obviously working out the kinks, but they’ve got a lot going for them. With a great outdoor patio, weekend live music (no cover charge), plans for a volleyball court, horseshoe pits and a Richardson’s ice cream stand, they are positioning to be the destination for fun this summer. All we can say is that if they succeed, they’re gonna need more parking spots.

The Farm
233 Western Ave., Essex
(978) 768-0000
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Essex-MA/THE-FARM-Bar-Grille/61002762093

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Old Salts, Fresh Drinks, and Good Deals

Posted: March 24th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Casual/Pub Food, Jack Tar, Marblehead, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Jack-Tar may have a historic name (it’s another term for old salt), but this restaurant is up to date, serving a variety of American dishes with a creative flair and catering to today’s cash-strapped patrons with worthwhile deals.

We visited on the Old-Town Marblehead restaurant Sunday night and were warmly greeted. We ordered drinks at the large mahogany bar and were pleasantly surprised by the Not Your Mother’s Gin & Tonic, featuring freshly muddled cilantro and Tanqueray 10. It was a bit on the sweet side, but the good-sized drink went down easy and was a nice change from the ordinary.

We sat down a few minutes later and were served warm bread with herb butter and told the specials (including the prices, which we love). Both of the appetizers we sampled were tasty: a saucy, good-sized barbeque duck quesadilla ($9) and five bacon-wrapped scallops over a salad with an apple slaw ($9). Also on offer are smaller apps portions for $2 to $4, a nice option for sampling.

We took advantage of an every-night special: a choice of four pizzas are $5 between 5:00 and 7:00. The pancetta and blue cheese ’za also featured fresh basil, plum tomato slices, and aged balsamic. The medium-thick crust had good flavor, and the toppings were plentiful and delicious.

We also ordered the Memphis ribs ($18), featuring tender ribs, crunchy sweet potato fries, corn bread, coleslaw, and baked beans. The grilled salmon ($19) with a maple balsamic glaze and horseradish mashed potatoes was perfectly cooked, moist and savory.

The junior member of our group was enthusiastic about her chicken quesadilla from the kids menu, and the price was right: kids eat free on Sunday night.

The service was friendly and attentive, and our only complaint was a wait of about 15 minutes for our appetizers. There were quite a few families with toddlers when we arrived, so plan to dine after 6:30 or so for a quieter meal. We congratulate new owners Scott and Emily Brankman, both of whom have considerable restaurant experience, on their menu and hope they keep up the good work—we’re looking forward to drinks and snacks on their outdoor patio this summer.

Jack-Tar American Tavern
126 Washington Street, Marblehead
(781) 631-2323
www.jacktarmarblehead.com

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