DownRiver: Best Ice Cream on the North Shore?

Posted: August 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Down River Ice Cream, Essex, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Honestly, the things we won’t do for you people. The other night, we were reading about DownRiver Ice Cream, and were compelled to get out our comfortable deck chairs and see for ourselves if it lived up to the hype.

It does. This was some of the best ice cream we’ve ever eaten.

Yes, this is quite a statement, and, yes, Richardson’s and Dick and June’s have terrific ice cream. But DownRiver outdoes them with its creaminess. Try it for yourselves and see if you agree. (If you’ve already tried it, let us know your favorite flavor.) The store opened at the beginning of the summer on the Essex/Ipswich line.

We had a cup of Deer Tracks, with toffee ice cream, peanut butter truffles, and fudge. The ice cream had a strong toffee flavor, and the fudge was to die for—abundant and seriously decadent.

We also had a cone of Willy Wonka, which has vanilla ice cream, M&Ms, peanut butter cups, Heath Bar, Snickers. The vanilla flavor really come through, the candy was packed in, and the cone was a crisp waffle (no extra charge).

DownRiver charges $3.50 for a regular cone and $4.25 for a large. A cup is $.25 extra as part of the shop’s sustainability efforts (we didn’t see the sign in time). Those efforts mean everything served to customers either goes in the recycle bin (drink cups, napkins, and sundae bowls) or the compost bin (biodegradable ice cream cups, spoons, and straws).

On our next trip, we may try one of the simpler flavors; we’re curious to see how the ice cream makers do with something like strawberry. Or we might start with vanilla and make our own flavor with mix-ins ($.85). There are also several gelato flavors that sound interesting. Then of course there’s Mill River Mix (fudge, coffee ice cream, and Heath Bar) and Clam Flats (chocolate ice cream with white chocolate and macadamia nuts) calling our names.

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

DownRiver Ice Cream
241 John Wise Ave, Essex (Rt. 133)
(978) 768-0102
Downriver Ice cream on Urbanspoon

Share

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

Share