Dish Tidbits: Spring 2010 Restaurant Openings

Posted: May 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Essex, Marblehead, News, Salem, Swampscott | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Whether it’s a sign of economic upswing or simply the continued evolution of the North Shore’s vibrant restaurant scene, it’s difficult to keep track of all the exciting openings going on in the area this spring.

A few weeks ago, Bolivian coffee importer Cafe Valverde Coffee Roasters replaced Fuel coffee shop at 196 Essex Street in Salem. This was apparently the starting flag, signaling a host of new openings.

This week saw the openings of Greenland Café and Coven Dessert Bar and Artisanal Market in Salem and the much-anticipated 5 Corners Kitchen in Marblehead.

Marblehead will see another new storefront soon, when Hooked Seafood & Grill opens in the old Super Sub space on Pleasant St. in June. Sticky Rice, the on-again off-again Thai restaurant on Hawkes St., has been sold to a new owner and is slated to re-open under the name Sticky Rice Bistro.

Salem has become a hotbed of restaurant activity recently and is looking forward to several openings in addition to the two this week. Since publishing its menu online, there has been a ton of buzz about Howling Wolf Taqueria, which will open at 76 Lafayette St. in early summer. The plentiful burritos and veggie options look to be winners.

Also on Lafayette Street a new restaurant serving pub fare, The Lafayette Grill, is scheduled to open in the old Casa Blanca space, which neighbors are hoping will be a step toward cleaning up the troubled area.

In the former Edgewater Café space on Washington St., the Adriatic Restaurant and Bar, which will feature a mix of Italian and European food, is finishing up renovations and hiring waitstaff and will open doors shortly. (added 5/17/10:  a great video of Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll interviewing the owners of both Coven and Adriatic can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INGDTKQo4Ww )

Another seafood venue has taken over the empty Derby Fish & Lobster space at 215 Derby St. and will be opening under the name Seaport Grill. No word yet on how soon.

And if that’s not enough new food for Salem, the recently renovated jail space is reportedly in talks with a restaurant, but nothing official has been announced yet.

Vinnin Square is seeing its share of the action as well. On the Salem border, Rizzo’s Roast Beef and Pizza of Peabody will be opening a second location in the plaza next to Staples. And on the Swampscott side, it looks like City Bar and Grill, which acquired a liquor license during the winter, has finally started to fit up the former Friendly’s/Finagle spot. Any independent venture would be welcome in the square, which feels overrun with chain restaurants and fast food outlets.

Over in Beverly, North Shore Restaurant group has taken on the new eatery being developed at the revived North Shore Music Theater. Named BackStage Bistro, it promises “top notch American cuisine” with theatre props from favorite past performances as decor and a show-tune sound track.

We hear that Mark McDonough and Co. will also be making some big changes to Alchemy in Gloucester, giving it a more comfy, lounge-y feel and emphasizing small plates and platters to share.

Also in Gloucester, Giuseppe’s, a new restaurant and piano bar will be moving into the former Elliot’s space in the Blackburn building. Their website promises the place will be “very musical, very Italian and

On Cape Ann, rumor has it that the Market Restaurant in Annisquam will be re-opening May 29 under the management of two former Chez Panisse chefs, which certainly sounds worth investigating.

There have also been murmurs about a tapas and healthy-fare venue opening in Essex. In a town synonymous with fried seafood, we’re sure this will be a welcome addition.

Looks like we’re going to have an exciting summer trying out all the new tastes, and perhaps some we don’t know about yet. Give us a shout at email@northshoredish.com, or leave a comment if you know of any more our readers would be interested in.

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Coven Promises Fine Foods and Funky Fun in Downtown Salem

Posted: May 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Cafe, Coven, Salem, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

What would happen if your playful, sugary-cereal-and-Saturday-morning-cartoon-loving childhood self collided head on with your older, fine-food-loving self? You’d wake up at Coven.

I stopped in yesterday to chat with Jen Vourlos, who created this brainchild along with partner Rob Trezza and is busy training staff and setting up, with plans to have a soft opening tomorrow morning. Not all of the foods and services will be available immediately, said Vourlos, but everything should be in order by the grand opening at the end of the month.

What exactly is Coven–bakery, café, artisanal market? Take all of the above, add vintage toys, games, and a dash of retro rockabilly décor, and you’ve got the idea. This storefront on Essex Street in Salem is a little bit of everything and unlike anything else.

Whether you are looking for gourmet foods, local artisanal cheeses, and fresh produce; indulgent and whimsical baked goods; or a casual place to eat, drink and hang with friends, Coven has got you covered.

Recent transplants from NYC where they owned a small dessert shop, Jen and Rob moved to Salem to be closer to family and create their vision of making “a change to the everyday cafe experience by providing a place where people can unwind while enjoying unprocessed and freshly prepared foods and whimsical desserts.” The treats will range from cakes, bars, and tarts to things like Nutella cannoli and all-natural, homemade versions of Twinkies and Poptarts.

Your inner child will delight in the cereal bar, where you can pour yourself a bowl of anything from Special K to Count Chocula, and the top-your-own-cupcakes with retro favorites like pop rocks. Your date-night self will appreciate a quiet corner to have a glass of wine with a cheese plate and play a favorite board game. Vourlos said she even plans to offer wine and beer dessert pairings. (They have acquired a seasonal beer and wine license and hope to eventually have it year-round.) The gourmet in you will love having a place to buy Richardson’s dairy products, cage free eggs, Voges curry coconut ice cream, or locally made cheese.

Coven will be open from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm, serving baked goods, daily specials, sandwiches, salads, deli items, and prepared foods. Everything is available to take out or eat in, and you may find yourself staying just to check out the vintage Smurf collection. Me? I’m looking forward to trying out some to those homemade Twinkies.

Coven
281 Essex Street, Salem
(978) 741-0500
http://www.facebook.com/CovenSalem
(final website is under construction)

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News and Notes

Posted: March 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Wow—there are so many things going on right now our heads are spinning. We also had some tasty meals and treats over the weekend, so, without further ado, here’s a roundup of everything we thought you should know.

On Tuesday March 23 at 7:00 p.m., The Blue Ox’s Matt O’Neil will be demonstrating how to filet a whole cod and braise ramps. The $35 fee includes a three-course meal (dessert is dulche de leche/chocolate chunk bread pudding). Call (781) 780-5722 to reserve a spot.

The Lyceum has announced a new drink menu, including a cool as a cucumber martini; a french cocktail with champagne, gin, lemon juice, and cointreau; and an orange bitter martini with Grey Goose orange, dry vermouth, cointreau, and orange bitters.

Salem Restaurant Week dates have been announced. The event will take place Sunday April 11 to Thursday April 15. We’ll have a list of restaurants for you as soon as they are announced.

Seeking comfort food Saturday night, we ended up at 15 Walnut and found just what we were looking for: a cup of the best French onion soup we’ve ever tasted (complete with cheese-covered croutons), a perfectly cooked burger on a brioche bun, and highly addictive hand-cut fries. The bartenders were having an infectiously good time, and the margaritas were just right.

Turbine Wine Bar has opened in Lynn with an interesting-looking menu. The Web site is short on information right now, but Corey from Downtown Lynn blogged about his visit here.

We have heard exciting news about the new restaurant going into the recently vacated Ladycakes space in Marblehead and will bring you more details soon.

We had a dish of pistachio gelato this weekend from Jaho in Salem. It was fantastic, as was the mocha coffee we washed it down with. The small gelato is $3.50, and it’s plenty to satisfy a sweet tooth. We sampled the chocolate gelato also, and it was fine but not worth the calories.

The Adriatic Restaurant and Bar is slated to open soon in what used to be the Edgewater Café in Salem (Washington St). It will offer a mix of Italian and European food.

Ithaki in Ipswich is closed for renovations and will reopen March 25.

Salem’s Spring Fling is slated for Saturday March 27 from 6:00 to 9:00. Sponsored by Pamplemousse, this event takes place at Old Town Hall and celebrates the end of winter with fine wine, craft beer, and food from local restauranteurs. Tickets are $25.

And last but certainly not least, Coven Artisinal Market Cafe and Dessert Bar will open in early April at 281 Essex Street in Salem. It will specialize in freshly made food, whimsical desserts, artisanal market items, and local farm fresh produce.

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