Friday, January 17, 2014

Fun Foodie Visit to Salem and the North Shore, Part I

** Warning**  This is clearly an opinion piece.  This blog post is written with a very personal "bent", and is done so that I can tell you about my personal favorite places to eat in Salem and in the area.  I write from a "foodies" perspective, and by that I mean that these are all my favorite foods, not necessarily what might be the best overall dining experiences.  Because I care a lot about the preparation of food, I will tolerate a lot to eat well-prepared dishes.

Because you will expect this, I will start out with my favorites from our current menus here at the Hawthorne Hotel.  If you think that I am doing this because I have to, nothing could be farther from the truth.  I am offering these suggestions because I love these foods.  Period.  That is my criteria.

To start the day, Breakfast in NATHANIEL'S:

Seafood Eggs Benedict
Eggs Benedict
Vegetable and Cheese Frittata
Belgian Waffles

Our "Benedicts" feature real, properly-made Hollandaise sauce, something you can barely find anywhere anymore.  The Frittata is loaded with lots of vegetables and lots of melting yummy cheese.  We use a special recipe for our waffle batter, so these waffles come out LIGHT and CRISP.  I dislike cakey waffles, and ours are not only light and airy and crisp, we serve them with real maple syrup.   Honestly, breakfast does not get better than at the Hawthorne Hotel.

Lunch (or Dinner)  in the TAVERN -- we serve the same menu from 11 am to 11 pm, so you can eat these any time.

Warm Arugula Salad with Smoked Salmon, Roasted Cauliflower and Fried Capers
Raspberry Chicken Salad
Tavern Penne Pasta with Smoked Mozzarella, Roasted Tomatoes, Asparagus and Grilled Chicken
Open-faced Grilled Portobella Mushroom Sandwich
Fried Haddock or Fried Haddock Sandwich (we get our fish locally and fresh, fresh, fresh!)

In NATHANIEL'S for Dinner, I adore the Wild Mushroom Ragout with Grilled Rustic Bread, and any of the fish dishes because we always buy the freshest fish around.  Save room for dessert, and order the Gingerbread Ice Cream Sandwich with local honey drizzle.  Mmmmmm.

Going outside the hotel, I really love ethnic foods, so here is what I head for:

Bella Verona, a darling little ITALIAN restaurant (across the street) has a wonderful straciatella soup, and a lovely appetizer that is more like a simple main dish, a warm salad of chicken breast, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, boiled eggs, and some other goodies. No lettuce, it is just a composed plate of really nice ingredients.  If you are weary of restaurant food, these two dishes taste more like "home" and can be very refreshing in that regard.

If you want more upscale, more expensive, modern Italian, head on over to Beverly and try Pride's Osteria. Don't miss the semi-freddo for dessert.  It is located on Rantoul Street, not far after you cross the bridge from Salem.

For SEAFOOD I recommend a few places, depending on circumstances.  For upscale, on-the-water Seafood, you cannot go wrong at FINZ, located on Pickering Wharf and just 1-1/2 blocks from the Hawthorne Hotel.

If you want VERY CASUAL atmosphere and good seafood, you should go to the Lobster Shanty on Artists' Row, just off of Front Street.

If you want to go for a ride to a picturesque, rustic, New England atmosphere kind of place, take a ride up to Essex.  Skip Woodman's which is where it seems all the tourists wind up, and go instead to Farnham's Clam Shack.  Located right on the salt marshes, and with a slightly more varied menu than most of this kind of place, Farnham's is a favorite.  Try their spicy scallop chowder for something really different and delicious.

This is the end of Part I of this post.  Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow.

I hope to see you here, or at one of my favorite food places on the North Shore.


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