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

Choate Bridge Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Gearing Up For North Shore Beer Week

Posted: September 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Drinks, Event, Green Land Cafe, Henry's Fine Foods, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Brothers Sean and Ryan Jansen and friend Ian Cowpar are men on a mission. Their lofty goal? To spread the good word to the citizens of the North Shore about the many joys of craft beer.

2 Beer Guys, which started out as the  personal project of Sean and Ian to educate themselves about the nuances of various beers, has blossomed into much more. They now host beer tastings, teach Beer 101 classes, maintain a website on which they have published hundreds of brew reviews, and publish a blog with up-to-date information on local and national beer events. These guys know their stuff and truly enjoy getting involved with the community.

Which brings us to North Shore Beer Week. If you’re thinking you’ve never heard of this event, you’re right—this year marks the first of what the Beer Guys hope will evolve into a great annual event.

After being involved in the organization of Portsmouth Craft Beer Weekend this winter, Sean and Ryan told us they got excited about creating a larger celebration to encompass their home turf. In partnership with Seaboard, a local beer distributor, they began to knock on doors to spread the word and gain support of local venues. Bookended by existing events, and during traditional Oktoberfest time, the last week in September seemed a perfect fit.

The celebration kicks off on September 25 with the 5th Annual Riverfront Brewfest, hosted by the Haverhill Brewery. They’ll run two sessions featuring sampling from roughly 20 breweries as well as live bands and their popular cask cellar.

The following week includes beer tastings hosted at many local restaurants and liquor stores, two craft beer education classes by the Beer Guys, the Oktoberfest celebration at Henry’s Market in Beverly with the judging of the Homebrew Competition, and a couple of beer dinners including the Green Land Café’s Harvest Beer Dinner. The final event of the week will be the Great Brewers 2010 Grand Prix of Gloucester, which features a beer garden from 11:00 to 5:00 on October 2 and 3, with many participating breweries.

The full schedule of events can be found on the website. The calendar function is a little awkward, so be sure to click on each day to see all the events.

The Dish is an avid supporter of small local brewers, and restaurants that support the craft beer movement. We are constantly delighted by the variety and quality of beers available. The North Shore is definitely a haven for beer lovers, so if you’re one of them, get out there and show Beer Week your support.


Enthusiasm is Brewing on Cape Ann

Posted: July 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Cape Ann Brewing Company, Drinks, Gloucester | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Finding ourselves in Gloucester on a recent sultry summer day, we needed to quench our thirst, and where better to find a frosty quaff than Cape Ann Brewing Company? A small craft brewing company, CABC has gained not just a loyal following but a popularity that reaches far beyond local.

In 2002, owner Jeremy Goldberg and a handful of friends decided to travel the country, experiencing 38 craft breweries in 40 days. The result was a documentary film entitled “American Beer, a Bockumentary.” Goldberg then moved to Gloucester to start his own operation, and in 2004, Cape Ann Brewing Company was born.

The sheer enthusiasm of everyone who works there is a joy, and they all seem to be home-brew fanatics. T.J. Peckham and Tom Ryan, who cover sales and distribution, have gone so far as to produce a series of videos featuring home-brewing how-to tips, called “The Deadliest Batch,” which can be found archived here at the Gloucester Times website.

Brewer Dylan L’abbe-Lindquist was originally hired to help manage the pub due to his restaurant experience, but his vast knowledge of home-brewing has made him valuable in all aspects of the operation.

It was Dylan who gave us a terrific tour of the facility, discussing ingredients and methods and what makes an ale different from a lager. One member of our party is considering home brewing, and the time and detail Dylan used answering our questions was much appreciated. Tours are available to anyone who stops in, as long as they have the staff to spare. If you’re unsure of your timing or have a large party, you may want to call ahead.

The pub part of the operation opened almost a year and a half ago and has been going like gangbusters. The open wood-paneled room with a boat-shaped bar and long tables is friendly and welcoming. Parents with young children take note: there are rocking chairs and shelves of books and games to accommodate those who enjoy meeting friends for a pint but don’t want to call a babysitter.

The pub offers a small but interesting menu of munchies and local pizza, but the focus is the beer. And, oh, what beer. We tried the entire spectrum of what was on tap, from the lighter IPA and Bavarian Wheat to the Fisherman’s Navigator, a German-style doppel-bock, and the Fisherman’s Eclipse, a schwarzbier (also known as “black” beer). One of our party enjoyed the Bavarian Wheat, but it was too fruity (bananas!) for me.

My favorite was the Fisherman’s Tea Party which, it turns out, isn’t really a beer at all. It’s a barley wine that includes three types of tea that were among those dumped during the Boston Tea Party. It had a wonderfully complex and rich taste, dark yet smooth, that I would definitely return for. You can see a video of Jeremy talking about the teas here on Good Morning Gloucester.

If you are into beer, Cape Ann Brewing Company is a must-visit, and even if you’re not a fanatic, the beautiful brews are certainly worth checking out. These guys are passionate about what they do, and you can taste it. If you can’t get to Gloucester, take a look at their website for the closest retail distributor of Cape Ann’s bottled offerings. CABC just got approval to fit up a new space and likely won’t be moving until next year, but be sure to check hours and directions if you’re coming from out of town. The pub also has weekly special events and food offerings so sign up for their email updates to get the latest from Jeremy.

Cape Ann Brewing Company
27 Commercial St, Gloucester
(978) 281-4782

Cape Ann Brewing Company & Brewpub on Urbanspoon


A Slice of (Foodie) Heaven in Newburyport

Posted: September 30th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Deli, Grand Trunk Imports, Marketplace, Newburyport | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

On our recent trip to Newburyport, we were introduced to Grand Trunk Imports by Kim Gobbi of Newburyport Today. The store is not new, but somehow we had completely missed it on previous trips. Now that we know about it, we can’t wait to go back.

Husband and wife team Jeremy and Angela Kirkpatrick have stocked their small space with a treasure trove of gourmet food, microbeers and wine, and accouterments. One wall is filled with imports like chutney, pasta, and olive oil, plus unusual items like orange flower water and roasted chestnuts.

At the back of the store, a large blackboard lists available wines by category, and the cheese case is full of interesting selections. A separate case holds bowls of olives and cured meats like sopressata and paleta iberico (dry cured Spanish ham).

Nearby is a selection of imported European beers and local microbeers, including Haverhill Brewery, as well as sandwiches like blue cheese with apricot and honey. The sandwiches are made fresh each day on artisan bread that’s also available by the loaf.

The front of the store features interesting non-food items, including gorgeous European cheese knives, sexy black slate cheese boards, and handcrafted cutting boards from New Hampshire Bowl and Board.

The next time you need picnic fixings or an interesting pre-dinner spread, we suggest giving Grand Trunk a try. Or you may want to time your visit to coincide with their wine tastings, held Fridays from 3:00 to 6:00 and Saturdays from 2:00 to 6:00.

Grand Trunk
53 Pleasant St, Newburyport
(978) 499-4441


Did You Say Toad in the Hole?

Posted: November 25th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Casual/Pub Food, Old Spot, Salem | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

We knew we were in for a treat when the waitress placed a bottle of Heinz malt vinegar on the table after we ordered the sweet potato sizzler appetizer, on her recommendation.

Actually, we were pretty sure we were going to enjoy The Old Spot the moment we walked in. The gas fire on the pub side, the friendly barkeep, and the flirty pig decorations in the main restaurant were the first clues. The 16 beers on tap, juicy burgers, and an opportunity to order spotted dick cemented the deal.

Established almost three years ago across from the Hawthorne Hotel, The Old Spot is, the waitress told us, the owner’s version of a English pub. Traditional fare like ploughman’s lunch ($12), toad in the hole ($8), and fish and chips ($16), along with ½ liter beers, ensure the pub part is on target. The “version” we took to mean more sophisticated menu choices, including delicious seared scallops with butternut squash ravioli in a light cream sauce (a recent dinner special).

Five of us shared the sweet potato fries ($9), which were topped with bacon, cheddar, sour cream, and scallions. Good thing we are all well behaved, or there might have been some elbow-related injuries. The haddock sandwich, fish and chips, and burger were declared a success, although the fries could have been more crisp. The hit of the night was the very slow roasted pork with wow-wow sauce (a vinegar-laced brown sauce with Worcestershire and whole grain mustard). Despite its melt-in-your-mouth qualities, we couldn’t finish the generous serving.

The same can’t be said for the desserts ($6 each), portions of which were left in their bowls. The brownie sundae tried, unsuccessfully, to cover up for the desert-dryness of the brownie with ice cream and whipped cream. A similar fate befell the spotted dick, which turned out to be bread pudding with whiskey sauce. The lemon bars were the best of the lot, moist and flavorful.

In the end, we left sated and happy, with plans to return. The welcoming atmosphere, attentive service, and good pub fare won us over, not to mention our desire to sample some of the cocktails on offer. With names like thickety boo, nancy boy, and peach knickers, who can resist?

The Old Spot
121 Essex St, Salem
(978) 745-5656

Old Spot on Urbanspoon