Weekend Picks: Special Valentine Edition

Posted: February 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Event | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Blue Ox in Lynn is not revealing much about their menu on the big night, but there will be dinner specials, and women receive a rose upon arrival. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal there last year. By the way, the next cooking demo at Blue Ox is March 22 at 7:00 and features carrot soup, hand-rolled gnocchi, and banana caramel cake ($39 per person).

Ceia Kitchen & Bar in Newburyport is offering a three-course Valentine’s dinner every night in February. The cost is $45 and includes items like smoked paprika pappardelle, warm fingerling and tomato salad with poached egg, and banana brulee. The menu changes weekly and is on Ceia’s website.

The Emerson Inn in Rockport is serving their Valentine’s menu Saturday the 12th and Monday the 14th. It’s a study in decadence, with items like duck and truffle paté with pomegranate gastrique, butter-poached lobster salad, grilled half-rack of lamb or pepper-crusted filet, and raspberry napoleon or molten lava cake. The cost is $49 per person.

Green Land’s prix fixe menu is $65 and includes an amuse bouche, choice of appetizer such as crispy duck wings, a salad or soup, an entrée, and a dessert (caramel turtle cheesecake sounds good). Larry Young will be playing violin tableside at the Salem restaurant from 7:00 to 9:00 on the 14th.

Nathaniel’s at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem is serving up a lovely traditional menu with baked brie for two; rack of lamb, chateaubriand, or cod with lobster and vegetable nage; and chocolate fondue for two. Entrée prices are $28 to $30.

Friday through Monday of Valentine’s weekend, Finz Salem is cooking up romantic plates such as oysters topped with bacon vodka, tuna carpaccio with asparagus, and lemon-thyme glazed chilean seabass. The crispy whole striped bass sounds good, too, marinated in sesame, ginger, and miso and accompanied by avocado ocean salad and truffle butter.

Heavy on seafood, The Lyceum’s romantic menu features oysters and shrimp to start, appetizers like crab cakes and calamari, and entrees from salmon and fried haddock to veal pot roast and angus sirloin. The Lyceum is in Salem, and entrée prices range from $18 to $34.

In addition to their regular menu, a $65 prix fixe menu will be served at Salem’s 62 Restaurant and Wine Bar, with a paired wine option for $20. Pork belly or frisee with wild mushrooms are the first course, cannelloni or garganelli are the second. Entrees include scallops with beluga lentils or slow roasted pork with milk-braised fennel, and dessert choices include 62’s famous warm toffee pudding and hot brioche donuts.

For $35, Valentine’s Day lovers have some delicious-sounding choices at Victoria Station in Salem. Appetizers like carmelized pancetta and shaved fennel salad, entrees like baby bok choy and teriyaki salmon en papillote, and desserts like cherries flambé are all on offer.

The Wine Connextion in Andover has put together some interesting gift packages that combine wine, pastry, and flowers. For $50, you can send your Valentine Segura Viudas Brut Reserva or Rose, an assortment of cake truffles, and a red rose in a bud vase. For $125, your sweetie will receive Mumm Napa Brut Prestige or Rose, a heart-shaped chocolate cake, and six red roses. A dozen roses, a chocolate/strawberry cake, and Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose go into the $300 package, and those going all out this year can send diamonds, Louis Roedere Cristal Brut, two chocolate heart-shaped cakes flaked with 24-carat gold, and 30 red roses ($10,000). The packages are on sale through Saturday the 12th, and delivery service is available.

One last thing: For those looking to buy chocolate or other sweets locally, our post from last year with many suggestions is here.

We’ve also got some North Shore Bloggers Consortium pick for you this weekend:

Seth is all over Lynn at Lynn Happens.

Jane Ward has some great ideas for entertainment this weekend.

Kimmy has her weekend picks in addition to tasty treat over at Lighter and Local.

And once again the Two Palaverers have a range of idea all over MA and NH.

North Shore Kid has some awesome suggestions for family activities.

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Our Valentine’s Crush: The Blue Ox

Posted: February 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bistro, Blue Ox, Lynn | Tags: , , | No Comments »

We had planned to take a night off from reviewing when we headed to dinner on Saturday night for a Valentine’s Day treat. But we had such a great meal at The Blue Ox that we’d be remiss not to tell you about it.

Feeling in a celebratory mood, we chose Matt O’Neil’s $39 prix fixe menu, which included two options for each of the three courses. The cauliflower soup was outstanding: creamy and smoky with a generous serving of bay scallops. Not loving frisee, we were skeptical about the salad but wanted something light before the pasta entrée. As it turns out, we don’t mind frisee one bit when it’s dressed in a maple vinaigrette and accompanied by fantastic duck prosciutto, tangy blue cheese, sweet apricots, and salty pistachios—an incredible combination.

Our main courses were also highly satisfying. The grilled filet mignon was properly cooked to medium rare and kissed with a flavorful port wine glaze. A heaping serving of mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus were perfect accompaniments. Just as good were the firm but light potato gnocchi with a generous portion of lobster and a wonderful sauce of butternut squash, mascarpone, and parmigiano.

Yes, we were too full for dessert, but we had to at least sample the mascarpone cheesecake (to die for) and the decadent chocolate layer cake with whipped-cream filling.

Given that it was Saturday night on Valentine’s Day weekend, we half-expected to run into kitchen missteps and/or harried waitstaff. We’re happy to report this was not the case. Despite a very crowded dining room, our waitress was smiling and calm throughout, and we never felt rushed or neglected.

With O’Neil’s obvious talent and reasonable prices for this quality of food (entrées run from $15 to $19), the crowds are no surprise. Still, opening this type of restaurant in downtown Lynn was a risk, so we’re glad to see that diners are not letting the location get in the way of a terrific meal.

Next Tuesday (2/23) at 7:00, O’Neil is holding a demonstration on deboning a chicken and preparing a chicken roulade. The cost is $35, which includes a three-course meal of escarole soup, the chicken roulade, and almond cream cake. We attended an earlier demonstration and found it informative and fun—you can read about it here. Call if you want to reserve a spot, as these tend to sell out.

The Blue Ox
191 Oxford Street, Lynn
(781) 780-5722
www.theblueoxlynn.com

The Blue Ox on Urbanspoon

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Home-Town Favorites for Valentine’s Day

Posted: January 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Danvers, Gloucester, Marblehead, Marketplace, Salem, Sweets and Treats, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

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Looking to score extra points on Valentine’s Day? Skip that box of prewrapped chocolates from the drugstore and head to one of these North Shore favorites. You’ll get better quality, more interesting choices, and personalized service—all while supporting your local chocolatier.

Harbor Sweets
If your sweetie likes all things nautical, you cannot go wrong with Sweet Sloops, an addicting confection of toffee, pecans, and white and dark chocolate. There are many other sea-themed chocolates available from the tiny Harbor Sweets factory in Salem, and they can be purchased in almost every North Shore town, including Shubie’s in Marblehead, Henry’s in Beverly, The Partridge Tree Gift Shop in Danvers, Connolly’s Pharmacy in Hamilton, Bruni’s in Ipswich, LuLa’s Pantry in Rockport, and Valentine’s in Newburyport.

85 Leavitt St, Salem
(978) 745-7648
www.harborsweets.com

Pride’s Crossing Confections
This converted train station on Route 127 is the place to go if you need gifts for a variety of tastes. The shop is jam-packed with everything from bags of chocolate covered potato chips and pretzels to cases of fudge, truffles, soft-centers, and white chocolate-covered confections. Don’t miss the famous turtles (seven varieties) and buttercrunches, all hand-made on premises.

590 Hale St, Prides Crossing
(978) 927-2185
www.pridescrossingconfections.com

Stowaway Sweets
It doesn’t get much more charming than this tucked-away shop in a former mansion, where the chocolates are extremely high quality and you can select each piece that goes in the box. Do not, under any circumstances, skip the meltaways.

154 Atlantic Ave, Marblehead
(781) 631-0303
www.stowawaysweets.com

The Cocoa Belt
This elegant shop is a new favorite, both for its selection of delicious truffles in sophisticated flavors like black forest, cappuccino, and champagne and its ability to improve on perennial favorites like peanut butter cups and scotch kisses.

58 Maple St, Danvers
(978) 774-4332
www.thecocoabelt.com

Turtle Alley
Known for its luscious turtles, this local maker also stocks an impressive supply of fruit slices, caramels, and fudge. We are especially fond of the kicked-up versions, including spicy peanut butter cups and almond chipotle turtles.

91a Washington St, Gloucester
(978) 281-4000
Museum Place Mall, Salem
(781) 740-0660
www.turtlealley.com

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Holding Hands at Midnight

Posted: February 6th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Gloucester, Marblehead, Newburyport, Salem | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Holding hands at midnight,
’Neath the starry skies
Nice work if you can get it
And you can get it if you try
—Cole Porter

Planning to take your sweetie out next weekend? Here’s a roundup of some romantic spots for a Valentine’s Day dinner, along with a few places offering special menus.

Tryst in Beverly is offering a prix fixe menu on Friday and Saturday nights. The four-course meal is $75 per person. The regular menu will not be available.
www.trystbeverly.com

Ten Center St in Newburyport is serving a four-course dinner derived from its regular dining menu for $75 per couple or $40 per person.
www.tencenterstreet.com

The always-romantic Grapevine in Salem is offering a three-course prix fixe menu during the month of February and March for $21 per person (not including beverages, tax or gratuity).
www.grapevinesalem.com

For a more casual meal, Capts in Salem is offering three courses for $30 or five courses for $40.
www.capts.com/ValentineDay.aspx

Bella Verona doesn’t have a Web site, but this tiny spot across from the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem is cozy and candle-lit. The food is great and very reasonably priced.
Update: Bella Verona does have a Web site, as Cathleen pointed out. It’s http://www.bellaverona.com/

We haven’t tried Duckworth’s Bistro in East Gloucester, but it was recommended to us by a Chowhound who goes there regularly, and the menu looks terrific.
www.duckworthsbistrot.com

It’s been a while since we dined at Pellino’s in Marblehead, but it has a great atmosphere, and we continue to hear good things about the food.
www.pellinos.com

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