A Savory Evening at Maggie’s Farm in Middleton

Posted: August 28th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: American, Drinks, Maggie's Farm, Middleton, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

We recently headed out Rt. 114 to Middleton to check out the newest member of Mark McDonough and Jeff Cala’s Serenitee Restaurant Group. Maggie’s Farm (named after the Dylan song) took over the space next to Sol Bean Café most recently occupied by Rock’s Tavern and opened in May.

Things were hopping on a Saturday night, and we had to wait about 15 minutes for a table. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations after 7:00, so unless you head over early, you may find yourself in the same boat, though spending time at the large, pleasant bar isn’t a problem.

The celebrity-populated mural on the rear wall is fun, making it seem as though Jerry Garcia and Pee Wee Herman are jockeying with you for a seat at the bar. Other than that, the obviously music- and farm-inspired décor is a bit more sparse than some of Serenitee’s other establishments and features more TV screens than we like while dining.

The brews on tap include several local offerings, including Cody Sunshine Daydream, a Belgian gold ale brewed specially for Serenitee. Perusing the cocktail menu, we decided to try the Blood Orange Margarita, made with Sauza Gold Tequila, Cointreau, fresh sour mix, and a blood orange puree ($10). It was nicely tart and refreshing, with a decent pour of tequila.

The menu, as expected, features a mix of seafood, grilled entrees, and Serenitee’s trademark sushi. It also includes vegan and gluten-free offerings, which are clearly marked. Speaking of gluten free, once seated at our table, we decided to try the tater tots ($9) for a starter. Not the pre-fab frozen nuggets you’ve come to expect, these were a decadent surprise. Creamy, cheesy, slightly chunky mashed potatoes that had been deep fried and were served with a chive bacon sour cream sauce, they quickly disappeared.

The entrees we sampled were large and hearty. The meatloaf, made from both beef and pork, came as thick tender slabs served with cheddar mashed potatoes, garlic broccoli, and copious mushroom gravy ($19). The lamb shank really exceeded expectations. Savory, garlicky, and falling off the bone, it was served with a tasty summer veggie ratatouille on a bed of creamy polenta ($20).

One member of our party did go for the sushi, which was super fresh. The spicy roll ($10) is offered with a choice of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, or crab, and indecision led us to ask if the order could be made up of some of each. Our server checked with the sushi bar and happily reported it wasn’t a problem.

There was no way we had room for dessert, so that will have to await further investigation. The flow of the dining space space is slightly awkward and parking limited, but the attentive service and enjoyable meal definitely warrant a return trip.

Maggie’s Farm
119 South Main Street, Middleton
(978) 539-8583
maggiesfarmmiddleton.com

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Pleasing a Crowd at Gloucester’s Latitude 43

Posted: January 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Gloucester, Latitude 43, Seafood | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

We had a diverse group last weekend, with some craving sushi and others leaning toward fried food. Luckily, we thought of Gloucester’s Latitude 43, which perfectly filled the bill. Overall, we had a terrific meal with a welcoming atmosphere, attentive service, and the freshest of seafood.

There were a couple of missteps, including the mussels appetizer ($12), which we found quite bland. Go for the calamari instead; we had them Asian style and quickly finished the generous, crispy portion ($9). The bacon clam chowder was also outstanding: thick and smoky with a perfect amount of clams ($6). With our appetizers we sampled one of the bar’s specialties, an apple old fashioned that was tart and refreshing ($9).

The restaurant’s sushi menu features a huge selection of specialty rolls, and several of us chose these over an entrée. The dragon roll, with shrimp tempura, crab, avocado, and fresh water eel, was an unbeatable combination of textures ($15), and the titanic roll was also well received (spicy tuna, salmon, yellow tail, albacore tuna, escolar, and shishito peppers, $16). The Lat 43 roll was good but didn’t hit the heights of the others (tempura tuna, wasabi goat cheese, avocado, enoki mushrooms, tobiko, and mango wrapped with daikon radish, $18). We also sampled the maguru nigiri (tuna), which was meltingly tender and delicious ($7).

The fish and chips entrée was perfectly cooked and seasoned, with crisp, salty fries and a sweetened tartar sauce that was addictive ($18). The corn and lobster tortelloni was not as successful. The lobster was succulent and plentiful, but the pasta was slightly undercooked, and the filling had an unpleasant mealy texture ($21).

It’s hard to go wrong with a flourless chocolate cake, and this one did not disappoint, with vanilla ice cream, a caramel crunch, and plenty of oozy chocolate to go around ($6).

Whether you’re craving fried food, sushi, a warm bowl of chowder, or just need to please a crowd, Latitude 43 is a great choice.

Latitude 43
25 Rogers St, Gloucester
(978) 281-0223
http://latfortythree.com

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Are We Crazy to Try Sushi on Route 1?

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Fuji Sushi, Peabody, Seafood | Tags: , | 5 Comments »

Fuji Sushi, located in a small strip mall on Route 1, does not look impressive from the outside. But we had heard good things, and their website proclaims they serve the best sushi on the North Shore, so we headed in to see for ourselves.

Ironically, it was the sushi that disappointed. There is a large selection of cooked and special maki rolls, and we sampled two that were quite good. The money brain roll featured spicy tuna and avocado and was deep fried ($8.25); the mango salsa shrimp roll was a great, fresh-tasting combination, with wafer thin slices of mango curved around the outside ($9.95). But the two traditional items we ordered from the sushi bar were very poor quality. The tuna sushi (two pieces for $5.25) was almost inedible, with large veins of sinew running though it, and the eel avocado roll was far too mushy ($5.25).

We fared better with our entrees. The vegetable don (rice bowl) was piping hot and full of wonderful flavors. At $10.95, it is also a terrific value. The shrimp yakisoba was also very good, with plentiful shrimp and smoky noodles ($11.95). We also sampled the house salad with delicious ginger dressing ($2.95) and the steamed shumai, which were small and not very flavorful ($4.25),

If you are looking for inexpensive Japanese food and prefer “crazy” maki rolls over traditional sushi, you can do well at Fuji. Other sushi lovers will want to look elsewhere.

Fuji Sushi
136 Newbury Street, Peabody
(978) 535-1182
www.myfujisushi.com

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Creativity Thrives at Peabody’s Maki Sushi Bar

Posted: June 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Maki Sushi, Peabody, Seafood | Tags: , , | No Comments »

They say good things come in small packages, and that’s definitely the case at Maki Sushi in Peabody. Behind this unassuming storefront on Main Street is a pleasant space with a large menu of traditional and creative sushi.

We had heard good things about Maki Sushi, which opened less than a year ago and does not yet have a liquor license (it’s in the works for the near future, we’re told). It did not disappoint, with fresh offerings and attentive service.

We started with the avocado salad, which featured wafer-thin slices of perfectly ripe avocado, crisp romaine, and a delicious ginger dressing ($6). We also tried the wasabi shumai, five lightly fried dumplings packed with that wonderful horseradish heat ($6).

For our main course, we mixed up the traditional and the modern. The salmon nigiri was good sized and tender ($5). The California roll with snow crab was generous, tender, and flavorful ($8). The eel roll was the only one we tried that we wouldn’t recommend—a bit skimpy on the eel and not enough sweet sauce ($7).

The number of special rolls on the menu is impressive. We tried the double tuna roll, a definite winner with spicy tuna, cucumber, and scallions in a roll topped with a piece of tuna ($10). The lobster roll was also terrific, with lots of tempura lobster, mango, avocado, and a delicious sauce ($14).

We were too full for dessert, but we may save room for the mochi ice cream or the banana wontons next time. We might even venture outside the sushi bar to try a bento box, which includes rice, soup, salad, gyoza, cream cheese dumpling, vegetables, and a four-piece California roll ($16 for beef teriyaki).

Maki Sushi
43 Main St, Peabody
(978) 854-5426
www.makisushibar.net

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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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