Blog Off at Mandrake: North Shore Dish v. Good Morning Gloucester

Posted: May 31st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Casual/Pub Food, Mandrake, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , | 22 Comments »

The thing about Joey C. (seen here sporting his new geek chic glasses) is that it’s virtually impossible to say no to him. Which is how we found ourselves at Mandrake last Thursday night eating, drinking, carousing, and wearing paper bags over our heads.

A few weeks prior, Joey C. (Ciaramitaro) and Patrick Ryan of Good Morning Gloucester fame had challenged us to a blog-off in which we’d meet on neutral ground (i.e., not Gloucester), dine together, and post about our experiences on the same day. The post that gets the most comments ensures bragging rights as the most awesome North Shore blog.

It was not our usual anonymous meal, that’s for sure. But despite the paper bags (a humorous nod to our standard under-the-radar dining) and Joey’s antics (he befriended everyone in the place and set up his tripod anywhere he pleased), we had a great time, and the food was right up our alley.

We started with the hummus and tapenade plate, accompanied by soft pita ($7). It was good, but totally eclipsed by the calamari, which were very tender and accompanied by a delicious aioli ($10), and the crab cakes, which were good sized, flavorful, and exceptionally light ($14). The only cocktail we tried was the Islander, which tasted like summer in a glass ($8).

Our entrees were all good, with a couple of standouts. The steak tips were cooked to our requested medium rare and accompanied by a huge amount of garlic mashed potatoes ($18). The baked scallops had great flavor, and the scallops were moist ($17). The horseradish and dijon crusted salmon was perfectly cooked and sitting on lyonnais potatoes, a nice change from the usual ($19).

The yellowfin tuna was very tender and fresh, perfect with just a sear on the outside. The sides were spot on in flavor: a salty seaweed salad and a bright asian coleslaw ($19). The best of the night was the seafood mac and cheese, which managed to be rich but not heavy. The cream sauce was delicious, the portion was huge, and the seafood was not overcooked ($24).

Thanks to Joey’s gregariousness, we were treated to dessert—a huge plate of fried dough topped with cookie dough ice cream, whipped cream, and caramel sauce. It sounds like carnival junk food run amok, but it was actually a unique indulgence that quickly disappeared.

We had been to Mandrake only for cocktails and bar snacks, and we’re glad we got a chance to return for dinner. The decor is cozy, the service is extremely friendly (and not just to Joey, we observed), and the atmosphere is the relaxed kind we tend to gravitate to.

We had a boatload of fun that night, and want to thank the staff for putting up with us. Of course, we could never seriously compete with Joey and Patrick, who get hundreds of hits a day due to their loving coverage of all things Gloucester, not to mention the photos of albino lobsters and LOLseagullz, but let’s give them a run for their money. Whether you’ve been to Mandrake or not, if you’re a loyal North Shore Dish fan, please comment on this post so we can show the boys of GMG that not only are we good sports, but we know what great local blogging is all about.

And no, we weren’t kidding about the paper bags, Joey’s got the evidence.

Mandrake
252 Cabot St, Beverly
(978) 922-0663
www.mandrakebarbistro.com

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We’ve Been Challenged!

Posted: April 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Event | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

The gauntlet has been thrown down.

The bad boys of Gloucester have issued a challenge that we find impossible to refuse. Yes, that’s right, they have challenged us to a “good old-fashioned” blog off. (You didn’t even know such a thing existed, did you?)

Talking trash and calling us the “second best blog around,” Good Morning Gloucester published a post this morning outlining the challenge, which involves both teams reviewing an as-yet-unnamed restaurant. The piece that receives the most comments will be the winner.

Although these guys garner more page views with their goofy captions on seagull photos and bizarre lobster stories, we think we’ve got more loyal readers across the North Shore. Food or follies? Serious or silly? You decide.

While Northshore Magazine doesn’t include a blog category in their Best of the North Shore awards, we’re game to find out if Joey and Patrick can live up to their boasts. May the best blog win.

Stay tuned for more details!

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Gloucester’s Latitude 43 Unveils New Sibling: Minglewood Tavern

Posted: November 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Drinks, Gloucester, News | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

We were a bit confused when we started hearing mention of Minglewood Tavern. We knew the bar at Latitude 43 in Gloucester was undergoing renovation, but this sounded like a whole new entity. We decided to investigate and gave Brian Eastman, the bar manager, a call.

It turns out that Minglewood Tavern, which takes it’s name from the Grateful Dead song New Minglewood Blues, is still attached to Lat 43 but has been given a separate identity and a complete makeover. This isn’t surprising given the fact that both establishments are owned by Mark McDonough’s Serenitee Restaurant Group (previously North Shore Restaurant Group). McDonough is well known for his creativity and fearlessness in retooling eateries to better serve local neighborhoods.

Eastman told us the team essentially gutted the entire tavern and outfitted it with features that make it even more funky and comfortable. The centerpiece is a large bar custom built by Walker Creek Furniture of Essex and finished with salvaged 205-year-old barn boards. Another new feature is a beautiful stone hearth built with local granite that serves as inspiration for the new menu, which Eastman describes as creative pub fare. Flatbread pizzas and other oven-baked items like enchiladas and lasagna will be on offer. Other menu items, like the sushi that Lat 43 is known for, will still be available.

There is a full roster of weekly specials and events planned, and Eastman is especially excited about Thursdays, when various brewers will be on hand to meet and talk beer. And speaking of beer, Minglewood is serious about it; they’ll offer twenty brews on tap.

Minglewood opens tomorrow night, and they’ll have a grand opening celebration starting at 6:00 pm with tastes from the new menu and live music from the local band Phat Maxx. We heard a rumour that Good Morning Gloucester’s infamous Joey C will be on hand mixing up his signature drink, the Hop Skip and Go Naked, which is served in a mason jar. How can you pass that up?

Minglewood Tavern
www.minglewoodtavern.com
25 Rogers Street, Gloucester
(978) 281-0223

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Gloucester’s Fort Square: Familiar Faces at Breakfast

Posted: February 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Breakfast, Cafe, Fort Square Café, Fort Square Cafe, Gloucester | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The ever-so-charming Joey C. of Good Morning Gloucester steered us to Fort Square Café last weekend when we were looking for a casual place for breakfast. Not surprisingly, he was right on the money. With great food, local specialties, and counter staff that greets you like a long-lost sibling, this place is right up our alley.

2262010bThe breakfast menu at tiny Fort Square is extensive and served all day. It includes eggs, omelets, and pancakes served with various breakfast meats and choice of hash browns or home fries. We tried two specials that day and loved them both. Crispy french toast ($5.50) was coated in crushed Honey Bunches of Oats and perfectly cooked. A side of bacon was crispy and flavorful. The tasty Portugese scramble with peppers, onions, and chorizo, home fries, and toast is $8.50, but we guarantee you won’t need another meal that day.

We also sampled mudiga steak, a local favorite consisting of thin slices of beef that have been breaded and fried. For fisherman, or those who like to eat breakfast like one, the steak is served with eggs, hash browns, and a toasted roll. Those not quite as adventurous might enjoy it more for lunch. We saw a steak sandwich with roasted peppers and melted provolone go by that looked delicious. Many other sandwiches are available for lunch ($4.50 to $6), and we’re hoping to return to check out the chowder.

Fort Square Café
29 Commercial St, Gloucester
(978) 281-3100
No Web site, open Mon-Sat 7:00 to 3:00, Sun 7:00 to 1:00
Fort Square Cafe on Urbanspoon

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