Food, drink, and night life return to an old spot
By The BaldOne
Over the last twenty years Salem has seen it share of chefs, cooks, and other assorted food preparation professionals. We have seen burgers and steaks, fish and chips, soups and pastas, and even an occult themed sandwich or two. Cooks have come and gone, moved from here to there, and on occasion disappeared never to be seen again. Michael Frechette anyone?
Tim Caldwell has been here through all of it. Twenty years ago he toiled over the range at the original Dodge Street Bar & Grill. Some of you may remember that place. Bob Berzofsky and his family ran a great place with wonderful food and the best regular line-up of musical acts on the north shore.
Later Tim created at McSwiggin's, which preceded the Old Spot at the corner of Essex Street and Hawthorne Boulevard. Both venues were tremendously popular with the local crowd.
Most recently he was the chef at the new Grapevine, an ill fated venture despite the best efforts of those involved.
Now Tim and partner Kiernan O'Neill have found the means to return that notable corner to Salem relevance. They have assembled an able and amiable staff who are quite enthusiastic in this new endeavor.
The BaldOne was solo on this bold venture through our snowbound streets. I selected a Notch Pils from the tap in the spirit of keeping it local. Soon after taking the first sip Chris Lohring himself, the owner and creative force behind Notch Brewing came in and said hello. What fine locally produced beer do you suppose was his choice?
The appetizers are a good mix of this and that. Smoked Gouda & Goat Cheese Fritters, Fried Lollipop Kale, Sirloin Hash with spicy grilled shrimp, and Sicilian Meatballs all demand attention.
I had to start with Korean Style Duck Wings with Kimchi. The four wings were plated well with a small portion of kimchi in the center. I am difficult to please when it comes to kimchi, having spent some time in Korea in the days of yore. The mild fermentation punched up with a nice blend of spices made for a pleasant experience. My next trip may require a small bowl in order to have the full experience.
The wings….. oh the wings. The skin was crispy with a light panko breading and the meat was moist, full of flavor, coming off of the bone with little effort. Given the opportunity there is no doubt I would have eaten ten or twelve of them with little or no effort.
It took a moment to decide on an entree. The choices are intriguing. Venison Stroganoff, Crab Stuffed Sole, Tarragon Fettuccini, Braised Short Ribs, Beer Battered Local Haddock, and The Chicken O'Brady, all beckoned my discerning eye and primed appetite.
An order was placed for the All Natural Half Chicken with house mashed potatoes and crispy onions.
The chicken looked appetizing as it sat on top of the potatoes, with the crisp, breaded onion layered on top, and some crisp sautéed green beens placed along side the chicken.
Tender skin and moist meat welcomed me. The spices did not overwhelm the chicken flavor but complimented it well. Initially I used a knife and fork in order to appear cultured. As I got closer to bone it was, "to hell with refinement" as fingers and teeth began to work together.
A clean plate, stacked in the style of a former server were all that remained.
The service at the bar by the lovely and alluring Stephanie was just as I expected and deserved.
Look at your calendar and find the time to drop by The Olde Main Street Pub. Try their offerings for yourself and be sure to tell Tim that the BaldOne from Salem Food Digest sent you.
Olde Main Street Pub
121 Essex Street
Salem MA. 01970
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