From Lunch to Brunch to Gourmet Dinners, We’ve Got Plenty of Ways to Celebrate Mom

Posted: May 7th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 62 Restaurant & Winebar, Blue Ox, brunch, Event, Finz, Nathaniel's at the Hawthorne Hotel, Victoria Station | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Forgot Mother’s Day is this Sunday and scrambling to make plans? We’ve got a quick round-up of brunch ideas as well as some less traditional options.

If delighting in a little taste of everything is mom’s style, there are several buffet options. Salem’s Victoria Station is featuring breakfast favorites as well as a carving station and plenty of seafood. And cocktails, of course. Perhaps a “Mom’osa” is in order? ($30 per person, $15 for kids,children under five eat free.)

Is mom a fan of oysters? Next door at Finz, the offerings include a raw bar along with a full buffet and the tasty-sounding waffles with blueberry whipped cream or banana encrusted salmon over coconut jasmine rice. ($39.99 per person, $15.99 for children 12 and under.)

A few blocks away, the Hawthorne Hotel will make mom feel like royalty. Their spread is available all day, with a change in focus at 3:00 from breakfast items to dinner. The veggie options look plentiful, including non-traditional salads like red-white-and-green salad with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, edamame, and fresh basil and a sweet-and-spicy cucumber salad with tomatoes, bell peppers, and red onion. The make-your-own strawberry shortcake will appeal to the kids in the group. ($42.95 adults; $2 per year of age for children.)

Newburyport’s 10 Center wants to ensure mom enjoys herself, too. In addition to an extensive buffet with dishes like stuffed french toast and lobster mac and cheese, they are offering a complimentary mimosa to each mother. ($40 per person, 10:00 to 3:00.)

A reliable favorite of many moms is the Emerson Inn by the Sea in Rockport for their always-beautiful grand buffet. Live piano music and ocean views accompany offerings like a smoked salmon, trout and mackerel display; chilled salad of shrimp, clams, mussels and calamari; and roasted garlic and gorgonzola encrusted black angus sirloin. ($49 per adult; $24.50 for children ages 3-10; 10:00 to 2:30.)

For those who would rather forgo brunch and treat mom to a luscious lunch or dinner, several terrific restaurants have special menu items on offer.

62 Restaurant and Wine Bar in Salem has a special menu just for mom from 11:00 to 9:00. In addition to regular menu items, Chef Tony Bettencourt will tempt you with crostini topped with whipped ricotta, roasted black mission figs, and aged balsamic vinegar and grilled lamb chops with zucchini, black olives, roasted tomato, crumbled feta, Sardinian couscous, and basil.

Lynn’s Blue Ox has put together a three-course meal for mom that has us salivating.
The pan-roasted cod with spring pea risotto, oven dried tomatoes, fava beans, pea tendril salad, and truffle vinaigrette and the strawberry rhubarb tart with strawberry and mint champagne sauce and whipped cream are calling our names. The special meal is $44 per person, available from 12:00 to 6:00.

Ceia in Newburyport will feature special selections such as a luxe steak and lobster benedict; spaghetti with black garlic, mint, and serrano chili; and shrimp with linguica, fingerling potatoes, kale, and a farm egg.

Last but not least, if the celebrated lady in your life loves eating out, our friends at Dinner Dealer have the perfect gift: a deck of restaurant-discount cards costs $25 and provides more than $300 in savings to North Shore restaurants ($1 from each sale is donated to a local food pantry). And if you contact them in the next few days, Dinner Dealer will throw in a free mini pampering kit with treats like chocolates and skincare products from local, women-owned companies.

Looks like there are plenty of options for treating your mom, grandmom, stepmom, godmom or anybody else to a great meal this weekend. Remember to call ahead for availability and that tax, tip and drinks aren’t generally included in the price, and enjoy!

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Scratch Kitchen: Regional, Seasonal, and Delicious

Posted: September 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: American, Scratch Kitchen | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

We’re not sure exactly what happened, but our inner carnivores went wild last week at Scratch Kitchen. With house-smoked pulled pork and thick-cut bacon on the menu, it just seemed like the thing to do. It all started with the house-cured wings, which were smoky, sweet, and crispy ($9). We’re already planning a return trip for more.

We had to try the pulled pork sandwich, seeing how it’s a specialty of the house and made from pasture-raised hogs sourced from Northeast Family Farms. A huge amount of tender meat mixed with vinegary sauce was piled on a toasted bun with not-too-sweet coleslaw. A delicious combination that was nicely offset by freshly pickled vegetables on the side ($8). The BLT was also a great mixture: crisp bacon and bread contrasted with creamy tomato slices and herb-garlic mayo ($7.75).

Happily for those more in control of their meat cravings, there are plenty of options, including a fish taco featuring Gloucester haddock and a vegetable and goat cheese panini (Valley View Farm cheese, of course). And that’s without even mentioning the house-cut fries made with Maine potatoes and served with a Great Hill Blue cheese fondue.

We’re always happy to see an emphasis on seasonal, local ingredients, and Chef Bill Fogarty obviously walks the walk, offering daily specials based on what’s fresh from the farm or farmer’s market. We’re also happy to see that Scratch Kitchen has dinner options like bacon mac and cheese and roasted chicken tossed with pesto and orecchietti, along with wine by the bottle or glass and a strong roster of New England beers.

Scratch Kitchen
245 Derby St
(978) 741-2442
www.scratchkitchensalem.com

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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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Serious Sandwiches in Ipswich

Posted: April 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Cafe, Ipswich, Stone Soup Café | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

We had heard good things about Stone Soup Café in Ipswich, so when we found ourselves in the area and in need of nourishment last week, we stopped in. Good thing we were hungry—this place serves up a serious lunch.

The menu is large and includes salads, burgers, dogs, roll ups, specialty sandwiches like grilled cheese and avocado, fried chicken and fish, plus pizzas with gourmet toppings and a selection of house-made soups.

Breakfast items for lunch are a favorite of ours, so we were thrilled to see not only pancakes ($4 for one, $6 for two—and they’re huge) and eggs benedict ($8), but a monster egg sandwich ($7). It lived up to its name: after a cup of excellent spicy lentil soup with sausage ($3), we had to take half of this delicious grilled sandwich home. It featured fried eggs, hash browns, bacon, cheese and sautéed onions.

We also sampled a cup of clam chowder (creamy and full flavored, $3.50) and a reuben filled with pastrami and sauerkraut on grilled bread with melted cheese ($8). And yes, we took half of that home as well.

The service was attentive and friendly, even going so far as to bring us a sample of the lentil soup so we could judge the spice level. The décor is less pleasing; it looks like not much has been done since the restaurant moved from its downtown Ipswich location last spring into what had been Marco Polo, an Italian restaurant.

Stone Soup serves breakfast and lunch every day as well as dinner Thursday to Sunday, with entrees ranging from $9 to $17. A full bar is available for lunch and dinner, including beer from Wachusett Brewing Company in Westminster.

Stone Soup Café
141 High St, Ipswich
(978) 356-4222

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Local Flavors Shine at Hamilton’s 15 Walnut

Posted: February 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: 15 Walnut, American, Bistro, Hamilton | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

With a focus on local food and a frequently changing menu, the bistro called 15 Walnut is a terrific addition to Hamilton’s dining scene, which leans toward pub-style restaurants. It’s also beautifully decorated in warm, inviting colors with exceptional art work and a large bar.

We sampled two sandwiches and two salads, with all four dishes clearly focused on top-quality ingredients. The Cuban sandwich ($10) was decadent and melty, with crisp grilled bread and pulled pork along with house-cured ham. The crispy haddock burrito ($11) was surprisingly light for a fish sandwich, a wrap with a perfect mix of fish, vegetables, and salsa fresca.

The 15 Walnut salad features red oak lettuce, Valley View goat cheese, candied walnuts, and fried shallots ($8). The wood oven beet salad mixes arugala with beets, almonds, and a very light aioli ($15 with chicken). We liked that the salads can be accompanied by steak ($7), chicken ($5), or scallops ($6), but we were surprised by the portion sizes, which were closer to side salad than entrée.

Since we were there for a quick lunch, we didn’t have a chance to sample any cocktails or desserts, which sound intriguing. For example, the Endless Summer is made with fresh-squeezed orange juice, orange vodka, cointreau, and splash of sour, and the honey crème brulee and the apple crisp are made with local honey and fruit. The entrées also sound good (especially the marinated skirt steak and the lobster mac and cheese) and seem reasonably priced at $17 to $22 with two sides.

Open from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm every day, 15 Walnut is definitely making it easy for us to return to sample more creative food with a local emphasis.

15 Walnut
15 Walnut Rd, Hamilton
(978) 468-2434
www.15walnut.com

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True Comfort at Caffe Paolina

Posted: January 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Caffe Paolina, Italian, Swampscott | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

We know it’s time to lighten up a bit after all that holiday indulgence. Still, last weekend in the midst of the whirling frozen stuff, we felt in need of some January cheer.

We headed for lunch at Caffe Paolina, which is in a near-deserted strip mall in Swampscott and looks like it might be a coffee shop. Instead, we were greeted by Paolina herself and served fantastic Southern Italian-style food that warmed us considerably better than our supposedly waterproof boots.

We decided on two starters: an antipasti ($12) and the antipasto alla Paolina and the involtino di melanzana (rolled eggplant cutlet, $5). Before they arrived, we were treated to complimentary bruschetta: firm Italian bread topped with chopped onion, tomato, and olive oil.

The antipasti was an interesting combination that seemed odd but tasted wonderful: lettuce accompanied by roasted peppers, cooked broccoli and green beans, shrimp, and melted cheese. The eggplant was even better: breaded and fried, filled with ricotta and spinach, and topped with warm tomato sauce.

The three pasta entrees we tried were fantastic. The lasagna ($12) was an authentic version with thin sheets of pasta and a creamy béchamel rather than the heavier ricotta/thick noodles we often see. It was surrounded by a light tomato sauce a bit on the sweet side (in a good way).

The fettuccini alfredo ($11) and chicken, broccoli, ziti ($12) had the same luscious cream sauce with a distinct flavor (cheese? nutmeg?), the kind you’d return for. The broccoli was cooked through but firm, and the chicken was tender.

The panini we tried, with polpette ($8), was not as good. The meatballs were bland, so the dish just fell flat.

As lunch spots go, Paolina’s is not inexpensive. But the quality of the ingredients and techniques is spot on, and the pasta entrees are generous—enough to take half home if you’ve indulged in some of the Italian bread or an appetizer. And we noted that the prices on the dinner menu are quite similar: around $10 for starters, $12 to $15 for pasta, and $15 to $17 for entrees, making it a good value (it’s also BYOB). The interior décor is more café than restaurant, but with great food at reasonable prices, we don’t think anyone will mind.

646 Humphrey St, Swampscott
(781) 593-6455
www.caffepaolina.com
(Note: Web site is under construction, but the hours and menus are there)

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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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Breakfast With the Stars: Mildred’s Corner Café

Posted: December 1st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Breakfast, Cafe, Lynn, Mildred's Corner Cafe | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

A reader e-mailed us a few weeks ago to recommend a couple of restaurants in Lynn, and this long weekend was the perfect time to check out one of them: Mildred’s Corner Café.

Boy, are we glad we did. Mildred’s is a charming spot with creative breakfast and lunch offerings, kitschy Hollywood décor, games to play while waiting for your food, and warm, attentive service. The tiny seven-year-old café, which is only open Friday to Sunday, is clearly a labor of love by Jan McLaughlin-Muirhead, who describes herself owner, cook, waitress, chief dishwasher on the menu.

We had been seated for approximately five seconds before being offered coffee, which came in large, colorful mugs. Tea is also available—19 types of loose tea, a fact that surprised and delighted us. After studying the menu and relaying our choices, we sat back to admire the movie-star posters and test our knowledge of silver-screen trivia.

Along with the usual breakfast offerings like omelets and French toast, Mildred’s large menu has seasonal specialties like pumpkin pancakes, gourmet items like a wild mushroom omelets, and light fare in the form of fat free yogurt with granola and fresh fruit.

We tried the crabcakes benedict ($11), which came with a generous portion of both hollandaise sauce and home fries. Everything was well seasoned and tasty, although the potatoes could have been more crisp. We also enjoyed the English breakfast ($6), featuring a small cup of baked beans, two delicious sausage patties, and grilled tomato slices along with fried eggs.

The huevos rancheros ($9) was a winner, combining flavorful refried beans with large chunks of sautéed tomatoes/peppers/onions, a generous scatter of ripe avocado, and two fried eggs. The junior member of our party declared her crispy bacon the best she’d ever had, enjoying it along with her scrambled eggs, pancake, and Go-gurt ($5).

It was a great way to start off a Sunday, and we look forward to returning to explore more breakfast items and interesting-sounding sandwiches like the avocado egg salad. We hear that there is often a wait for tables, so we were glad to see a small counter with stools as well as a separate waiting area with couches and a television playing (you guessed it) classic movies.

Mildred’s Corner Café
45 Lewis St, Lynn
(781) 595-4600
Open 7:30 to 2:00 Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

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Maria’s is the Place for a Hearty Breakfast

Posted: October 30th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Breakfast, Maria's Place, Salem | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

There is no shortage of great places to grab breakfast on the North Shore, and we’ve got another one to add to your list.

On Sunday morning, we stopped by Maria’s Place in Salem for carbs and caffeine to jumpstart our day. Set at the end of a strip of storefronts on Jefferson Ave., the dining room is large and open, giving it a sort-of cafeteria feel, with a counter and grill along one wall. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, with locals chatting up the kitchen staff and waitresses calling out “See you next week” to regulars. We were greeted and seated right away, our helpful server promptly filling our coffee cups.

The menu featured all the usual suspects, and we had a hard time choosing, so we decided to order several things to share. The first was the popular hungry man breakfast, which includes two eggs, sausage, bacon, homefries, toast, two pancakes, and a glass of juice for $9. The menu warns there are no substitutions, but for a $1 more we had the blueberry pancakes in lieu of plain. It turned out to be a huge amount of food, and while the homefries were ordinary, the blueberry pancakes were excellent: large, nicely browned, and full of flavor.

We also ordered the Belgian waffle ($6), along with sides of corned beef hash and grilled kielbasa, an unusual addition to the menu ($3.75 each), While it tasted fine, the corned beef hash was too finely ground; we prefer larger chunks of meat and potatoes. The waffle was quite respectable, and one taste of the kielbasa made us glad we had ordered it. Salty and savory, it was a welcome change from the usual side dishes.

Although Maria’s Place is bright and clean with terrific service, it somehow lacks the charm of local diners or places like Red’s and The Driftwood. Still, if charm’s not your thing and you’re looking for a no-nonsense friendly place for a solid breakfast, look no further. Maria’s is open 6:00-3:00 Monday through Saturday and 7:00-2:00 on Sunday. It also features an extensive lunch menu.

Maria’s Place
10 Jefferson Ave, Salem
(978) 744-1817

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Hot and Crunchy at Danvers’ Sawasdee

Posted: October 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Danvers, Sawasdee Danvers | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments »

Award-winning Thai food for lunch? Conveniently located in downtown Danvers? What’s not to like? Indeed, we found everything to our liking on our visit to Sawasdee, which recently won Northshore Magazine’s vote for best Thai food.

The interior is airy and comfortable, with brick walls and wood floors, funky light fixtures, and more tiny bamboo plants than we’ve ever seen in one place. A cozy bar occupies one corner, and the restaurant serves beer and wine.

The menu is just as well thought out, with a huge selection of appetizers, the option to create your own stir fry or curry (choice of meat and sauce/veggies), and plenty of lunch specials. We especially like the option to change the white rice in the specials for brown rice ($.75), sticky rice ($1), or rice noodles ($1).

We started with a DIY appetizer special call fun fun lettuce wraps: large leaves that hold a chicken mixture and crispy bean thread noodles, all dipped in a sweet chili sauce ($5). Fun, crunchy, and delicious.

Then we moved onto pad thai ($6.75), panang curry with beef ($7.75), and pla rad pik (crispy fish, $7.75). The pad thai noodles and large shrimp were succulent, and the sauce was a tad sweeter than we’re used to—absolutely addictive. The panang had just the right combination of coconut and curry, although the beef was a bit chewy.

The fish was quite fiery and had a terrific light breading. It’s available as a whole fish for dinner, and we recommend it for those who complain that Thai restaurants turn down the heat too much for Americans. The vegetables on both the fish and the curry dishes were crisp/tender, just the way we like them.

Done right, there’s nothing like Thai food to satisfy those cravings for comforting carbs, salty sauces, and heat—and Sawasdee definitely does it right.

Sawasdee Danvers
49A Maple St, Danvers
(978) 744-8424
www.sawasdeedanvers.com

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