Nate and I recently decided to take a day trip up to Salem to check out the witches, eat some seafood, and enjoy the spring weather by the water.
After an afternoon of acting like shameless tourists, we had worked up an appetite and decided to check out Sea Level Oyster Bar, a beachy waterfront restaurant and bar right that looked right out onto the boats docked by the wharf.
Nate took one look at the menu and knew exactly what he wanted – the Srirachia Burger, which came with bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, spicy Srirachia mayo, and pickled jalapeños piled on Texas toast. The burger was juicy and cooked to perfection and the Srirachia mayo had just the right amount of kick to add a little interest to a classic bacon cheeseburger. The thick, buttery Texas toast soaked up the sauce and juice from the burger and the result was extremely messy but totally gratifying. The fries were also heavily seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked crispy – I stole quite a few of them when Nate wasn’t looking.
Indecisive as ever, I was torn between a few options. As has been mentioned many times before, I am a sucker for a good lobster roll, so the Hot Lobster Roll (warmed, buttered lobster meat served on a brioche bun) caught my eye. I was also instantly intrigued by the Stuffed Lobster (overstuffed with crab meat and served with seasonal veggies and grilled potatoes). But, the winner of the night for me was the Baked Seafood Pie – lobster, scallops, and shrimp baked in a sherry cream with vegetables and mashed potatoes and topped with a buttery Ritz cracker topping. It was basically the seafood equivalent of a traditional Shepherd’s Pie and it was, in a word, heaven. The three types of seafood smothered in cream sauce combined with the crunch of the crumb topping and the savory, smooth flavor of the mashed potatoes made for a delicious dinner that more than satisfied my perpetual craving for seafood.
From traditional bar food (everything from Nachos served with tomato avocado salsa to onion rings served with chipotle mayo) to seafood (from fried clams and popcorn shrimp to mussels and steamers) to sandwiches and steaks, the menu was extensive and full of inventive takes on classic dishes. And, with a prime location right on Salem’s historic and picturesque Pickering Wharf, Sea Level Oyster Bar is definitely worth the trip.
After walking off dinner with a stroll down to the Derby Wharf Light, we decided that 20+ minutes of movement entitled us to ice cream for dessert (#logic). So, we stopped by Melt Homemade Ice Cream on Washington Street.
Melt is quaint and friendly and has the feel of a small-town ice cream shop, but the menu is anything but ordinary. There is an extensive menu of creative, slightly off-kilter flavors that taste as delicious as they sound. Nate got a cone of Cinnamon Waffles and Sprinkles — weird, right? But trust us, because it looked like funfetti and tasted like a chilled cinnamon dream. Christiana, the owner of Melt, gave us the back story on how the flavor came to be. It was actually invented by one of her employees, who said she wanted to make an “ice cream that tastes like waffle cones and has a bunch of rainbow sprinkles in it”!
While Nate order to Cinnamon Waffles and Sprinkles, I got a cup of the Banana Nutella with Peanut Butter Cups, which continues my streak of loving all things Nutella. The flavor was the perfect combo of savory-sweet, and the Banana Nutella was a nice combination that vibed with my taste buds.
All in all, it was a perfect impromptu New England day trip. Salem is only about an hour north of Boston and with tons of history, museums, shops, and restaurants it’s definitely worth the ride up.