Soothed and Satisfied at Kame

Posted: May 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Beverly, Kame | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

We love Japanese food, but it can be pricey. That’s why we like to get our fix mid-day, taking advantage of the specials and de-stressing in the calm atmosphere at Beverly’s Kame.

We’ve visited Kame several times over the past few years and find the food consistently fresh and well prepared. The menu contains no surprises but has a great selection of traditional Japanese/American fare like dumplings, sushi, tempura, noodles, and teriyaki.

We like the fact that sushi is available with either white or brown rice, although the price for the latter is slightly higher. We sampled the spicy tuna, salmon/avocado, shrimp tempura, and eel/avocado maki ($5–$7.50), as well as salmon sushi ($4.75 for two pieces). The fish was tender, the avocado was ripe, and the rolls had the right amount of wasabi. We also tried the steamed shumai appetizer, which was perfectly cooked and came with spicy mustard sauce ($6.50).

The best deals on the menu are the lunch specials, which run from $7.50 to $8.95 (sushi plates are a few dollars more), and the bento boxes. We tried the tempura bento box and got more food that we could eat for $10.95. There was a large portion of tempura, salad, two egg rolls, three dumplings, and a bowl of rice, plus a miso soup starter. The salad had a bit too much dressing, but everything else was spot on, and the tempura was perfectly fried.

Several varieties of sakes are available, including one unfiltered, ranging in price from $5.50 to $7. We tried the Kaishu Honjyozo, which was $5.75 and came as a shot standing in wooden box containing more sake. Perhaps one of our sake-expert readers can tell us the origins of this presentation.

If you prefer to indulge after the meal, try the tempura dessert ($5.50), which we’ve enjoyed on previous visits: a large plate of delicious tempura-battered bananas topped with chocolate sauce.

Kame
250 Cabot St, Beverly
(978) 922-9333
www.kamerestaurant.com

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Putting Ingredients Front and Center: Beverly’s Soma

Posted: December 8th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Beverly, Soma | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

It’s one thing to have a feel for flavor combinations, it’s another to have a true passion for ingredients. That’s the feeling we got during our recent lunch at Beverly’s Soma—as though someone had lovingly hand selected each ingredient and combined them in the best way possible. Indeed, the Web site says quality ingredients (local when possible), creativity, and attention to detail are what the restaurant is all about.

We began with a wonderful appetizer of braised lamb and gnocchi ($9). The lamb was tender, the gnocchi were incredibly light, and they were both bathed in a rich sauce along with spinach and mushrooms.

Our entrees were equally satisfying. The fresh mozzarella and prosciutto panini ($8) was lightly crisped so as not to melt the thick slice of cheese and accompanied by wafer thin slices of prosciutto and very flavorful black olive tapenade. We picked cole slaw rather than fries, and it was great (freshly made with a dash of curry), but the fries we saw going by looked worth a try.

The garlic shrimp pizza ($9) had an abundance of toppings, including crisp/tender broccolini, on a marvelous crust—crispy and not too dense.

We shouldn’t have, but we had to try the Aphrodite chocolate cake, which came with vanilla bean ice cream and salted caramel sauce. Much lighter than the typical molten cake, it was rich, meltingly tender, and not too sweet. A bite of cake with the sauce and ice cream put us in dessert heaven.

If you’re looking for a relaxing lunch spot with top-notch food, Soma should be at the top of your list. The service was superb, and the menu is varied enough to please just about any craving, including a large wine selection and the option to build your own pizza from a list of 41 ingredients.

The dinner menu also looks great, and we’re sure the food will not disappoint, but be aware that bar, which specializes in creative martinis, gets quite lively on weekends. If that’s not your thing, try a weeknight or daytime visit to truly appreciate this kitchen’s
well-crafted meals.

Soma
256 Cabot Street, Beverly
(978) 524-0033
www.somabeverly.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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French Toast and Friendly Faces at Beverly’s Depot Diner

Posted: July 8th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Breakfast, Depot Diner, Diner | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

With all of the incessant rain lately, we were feeling in serious need of some comfort food. And because bacon is one of our favorite comfort foods, we decided to head over to The Depot Diner in Beverly. Not to be confused with the Little Depot Diner in Peabody; it isn’t a vintage style diner, but rather a storefront restaurant in a small strip mall next to the North Beverly commuter rail station.

It was bustling on our arrival, but we managed to snag a free table, though we’re told arriving after 9:00 on a weekend morning will mean fighting the crowds for a seat. The dining room is large and open, and in lieu of a diner motif, the décor is made up of warm mustard and terracotta colors, accented by bright abstract paintings and dark wood tables.

Our waitress was cheerful and efficient, providing coffee (dark and rich) and juice in short order as we surveyed the large menu of breakfast and lunch items. The omelets being consumed at the next table looked impressive, but we decided on the eggs (any style) over corned beef hash with homefries and toast ($7.75) and the Portuguese sweet bread french toast ($6.50) with a side of bacon ($3).

The corned beef hash was quite tasty, with nice crispy bits and savory flavor that complemented the eggs. We were impressed by the variety of breads available for toast and pleased rye was among the offerings. The homefries, however, were lackluster—bland and mushy. The french toast was heavenly: two large, thick slices of Portuguese sweet bread transformed into fluffy, eggy perfection. The bacon was nicely crisp and not too greasy.

Whether you are looking for a bright spot on a dismal day or simply a tasty hearty breakfast, we found that a stop at the Depot Diner is just the ticket.

Depot Diner
23 Enon St., Beverly
(978) 922-6200
www.depot-diner.com


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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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Afternoon Delight

Posted: April 5th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Beverly, Siam Delight | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Updated 8/26/10: We visited Siam Delight last week and had a very different experience. Gummy pad thai and a much smaller portion for the same price. A friend of ours had a similar experience, so we’re guessing the restaurant has changed hands. We recommend you try Sawasdee in Danvers instead.

With signs of spring still few and far between, we decided to perk ourselves up with an indulgent lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant, Beverly’s Siam Delight. It did not disappoint, and we left with pleasantly full bellies and a lighter step.

The pretty green walls, warm wood, and whimsical lighting in this restaurant are somewhat unexpected given its location next to a dry cleaner on Cabot Street. Locals are certainly not fooled, as evidenced by the full dining room and long take-out line at lunch.

The food at Siam is consistently terrific—fresh and flavorful, and they never use MSG. We tried several new dishes on this visit and enjoyed all but one. First though, from previous meals we highly recommend the pad thai (well balanced sauce, good noodle texture, plentiful chicken and shrimp), and the duck green curry (just the right amount of heat and lots of sauce to coat the rice).

We started our lunch with shrimp in a blanket ($6) but weren’t crazy about the texture of the minced shrimp and fish inside the crispy shell. We had no complaints about our entrees, starting with the homestyle duck ($8) featuring boneless slices of tender meat, crisp-cooked vegetables, and a tasty sauce. The large plate of food came with a good-sized mound of white rice—an excellent value.

Longing for summer, we couldn’t resist ordering a dish named noodles on the beach and were glad we did. The wide noodles were succulent, and the sauce clinging to them and the vegetables featured a wonderful spicy basil flavor ($7.50). Our third dish was also a hit: beef magic fried rice. We don’t know about the magic, but the marinated beef, green peppers, basil, and plump rice grains made an addictive combination.

Siam Delight just celebrated its tenth year in business, and it’s easy to understand their staying power. With great food at reasonable prices, it’s our bet they’ll be delighting diners for many years to come.

Siam Delight
128 Cabot Street, Beverly
(978) 922-8514
www.nvo.com/siamdelight

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Dish Hearsay: Soma Reopens

Posted: April 3rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Beverly | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Information is still unverified as to any changes in management and executive chef, but after being closed for a month, Soma on Beverly’s Cabot Street reopened about two weeks ago with a new menu. A friend of North Shore Dish visited and sampled the just-added pizza offerings, declaring them top notch.

A check of the updated menu reveals a large selection of sandwiches for $10, including a steak souvlaki wrap, el cubano press, and muffalatta panini that look interesting. Entrees range from vegetable pasta and lobster ravioli to braised short ribs and steak frites montréal ($15 to $24). Pizzas are priced from $9 to $18 depending on size and ingredients. The grilled steak and gorgonzola, which includes red onions, arugula, and a balsamic reduction, comes highly recommended.

Soma
256 Cabot St, Beverly
(978) 524-0033
www.somabeverly.com

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Seeking Comfort

Posted: March 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Casual/Pub Food, Garden City Pub | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Garden City Pub is not exactly a secret, but it’s something of a hidden gem, located behind a liquor store in North Beverly. It’s our number one choice for comfort food, and lest we be accused of keeping things from you, we’ve got to share. Just don’t all rush there next Saturday night or we’ll never get a table, ’k?

We had another great meal there last weekend, and the price was the perfect antidote to the week’s stockmarket plunge: $50 for a large, satisfying dinner for two with drinks.

Lunch Guy splurged on a Ketel One martini ($8.50), followed by french onion soup and eggplant parmesan. The soup ($4) had its priorities in order—lots of crunchy bread topped with melted cheese. Oh, and the soup was tasty, too. The entrée was a huge portion of very thin eggplant slices breaded perfectly ($13). Between the eggplant and the bowl of pasta it came with, Lunch Guy took half of it home—and believe me, that doesn’t happen often.

My entrée has got to be one of the best deals around. A large bowl of delicious lobster ravioli topped with creamy pasta sauce for $14. It came with a good-sized portion of fresh caesar salad for an additional $2.50. The ravioli are not house made as far as we could ascertain, but they were large, cooked perfectly, and filled with chunks of lobster. My cocktail was cranberry juice and house vodka, a 16-ounce glass for $5. It goes without saying we were too full to think about dessert.

Garden City is not the place for a quiet, romantic meal. It’s noisy and crowded most nights for dinner, and the large bar dominates the room. But the service is efficient and friendly, the steak fries (sampled on previous visits) are heavenly, and the drinks are generous. Let’s just say if this place were a little easier to see from Route 1A, getting a table would be nearly impossible.

Garden City Pub
21 Enon St, Beverly
(978) 922-9018

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The Lunch Counter: Nick’s

Posted: November 21st, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: American, Beverly, Nick's Famous Roast Beef, The Lunch Counter | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

As a tradesman, our Lunch Guy eats out four or five days a week. Bad for his cholesterol level, good for our readers—he’s scoped out the best places for inexpensive meals in Beverly, Salem, Peabody, Danvers, and more.

Lunch Guy has had it all, from chicken to Chinese, but before we get to that, we have to pay homage to the best fast-food joint in the area: Nick’s Roast Beef. Nick’s is beloved by all in the Beverly/Salem area, and Lunch Guy says it’s for good reason.

For starters, there’s the friendly service and the awesome roast beef. Lunch Guy likes the junior beef three-way (sauce, mayo, and cheese; under $5 with a drink). With Nick’s wonderful, not-greasy fries, of course ($2.50).

But here’s the rub. The cheeseburger plate calls to Lunch Guy every time. It’s a huge burger grilled to order with fries, onion rings, and a salad. At $7, it’s a steal, since it’s more food than anyone can eat.

One more thing—Lunch Guy says get there before noon if you want to get a table.

Nick’s Famous Roast Beef
139 Dodge St, Beverly
(978) 927-6029
www.nicksfamousroastbeef.com

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A Fish Called Walu

Posted: November 10th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Agave Mexican Bistro, Beverly, Cielito Lindo, Mexican, Newburyport | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

There you are, minding your own business, when it hits—that undeniable craving for warm tortilla chips and a salty margarita. True, there aren’t a huge number of places on the North Shore to indulge your need for Mexican comfort food, but we’ve scoped out two that are definitely worth a visit.

For a welcoming atmosphere, fantastic guacamole, and that comfort-food factor, you can’t beat Cielito Lindo on Rantoul Street in Beverly. Always busy on weekend nights, you will nevertheless be greeted with a smile by the mustachioed host, and before you know it, you’ll be seated in the cozy room digging into a rustic bowl full of avocado heaven ($7.50).

On a recent visit, we enjoyed a delicious bowl of posole in addition to the fresh-made guac. The posole was a special that night and featured red chile, white beans, chicken, and cilantro. For entrees, we had skirt steak fajitas, tilapia in a spicy cream sauce, fish tacos, and mayan style pork enchiladas with green tomatillo sauce. All were reasonably priced, freshly made, and well received.

We sipped our way through a pitcher of margaritas that was, sadly, lacking in the tequila department. Our suggestion—go with the sangria and consider a burrito ($6.95). We saw one go by that was the size of a football. Be sure to nod enthusiastically each time the host  comes by to check on you (we’re assuming he’s one of the owners)—you want to be assured of that warm greeting when you return.

For a slightly more upscale meal—and a seafood treat you would not have expected—check out Agavé Mexican Bistro on State Street in Newburyport. Again, you’ll find a wait on weekend nights, but a buzzing coaster and a drink at the inviting downstairs bar will help with that.

At one of the two dining floors above, you’ll be greeted by a colorful décor, white tablecloths, and the noise of tipsy diners. Do try the margaritas here; the restaurant is, after all, named for the plant that provides us with tequila. There are several gussied up versions, but you won’t go wrong with the basic, which has just the right amount of lime. Tequila connoisseurs may want to try a new brand straight up—the restaurant boasts more than 60.

The menu at Agavé is large and varied, and we’ve never tried anything that wasn’t well prepared and delicious. But the star of the show is walu, a fish we’ve never seen elsewhere (Agavé imports it from Hawaii) and worth raving about. It’s a firm, buttery fish that tastes almost like lobster—$23.95 at dinner with vegetable, mashed potatoes, and house-made mango salsa.

Unfortunately, between the chips, ’ritas, and walu, we’re always too full for dessert. But the menu includes churros served with chocolate and cajeta caramel syrup ($5.00), a treat we’re determined to save room for one of these times.

Cielito Lindo
150 Cabot St, Beverly
(978) 922-4657
www.cielitolindogrill.com

Agavé Mexican Bistro
50 State Street, Newburyport
(978) 499-0428
www.agavemexicanbistro.com

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