Trip To Salem, MA

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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.

Sea Level Oyster Bar

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.

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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.

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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. Melt Ice Cream in Salem, MA

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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.

Boston Sail Loft – North End, Boston, MA

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So if you haven’t picked up on it yet, Nate and I really enjoy seafood (so much, in fact, that we recently drove all the way to Hull in search of the perfect plate of clam strips — totally worth it). Luckily, we found a place right here in the city that serves up a deliciously authentic Boston seafood experience with 360-degree views of the water. Located right in the North End, the Boston Sail Loft has the look of a weathered beachfront cottage and an amazing menu to match.

We’ve been twice. The first time was for lobster rolls, which were jam-packed with loads of fresh, sweet, and succulent lobster meat bound together by a light coating of mayo and piled on a crisp, buttery roll.  The second time, however, was the highlight for me since it marked my first time trying scallops (crazy, I know).  The Broiled Sea Scallops were cooked to perfection — incredibly tender and topped with golden-brown, buttery Ritz cracker crumbs. They sat in a butter sauce that infused each scallop with a tremendous amount of flavor, and my only regret was that I had to share them with Nate and couldn’t hog them all for myself. We got them with mashed potatoes — garlicky and creamy, with chunks of potato skin running through — and a vegetable medley (because you have to have something green on your plate, even if you only have a few pieces of broccoli to be polite).

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We also decided to splurge and split a Fried Fish Sandwich (because treat yo self).  A heaping portion of fried cod topped with melted cheddar cheese all on a giant hamburger bun, the sandwich was definitely meant for sharing. Or maybe meant for a person who hadn’t just eaten a huge order of scallops. Either way, there were leftovers aplenty. And, as per Nate’s request, I’m mentioning that our sandwich-eating experience was taken to a whole new level when Nate came up with the admittedly brilliant idea to spread the sides of tartar sauce and coleslaw directly on the fried cod.

IMG_2651It was an excellent dining experience — not only was the food delicious, but our table (and most of the tables in the relatively tiny but well-decorated restaurant) looked directly out on the water. The Boston Sail Loft is the closest you’ll get to beachfront dining without having to leave the city.

 

Jake’s Seafood Restaurant – Hull, MA

With amazing views of the ocean and outdoor seating, Jake’s Seafood Restaurant at Nantasket Beach in Hull is a great idea for ocean-view dining.

Because we are impatient and desperate for summer, we went in unseasonably cool early April, so we did not get a chance to experience the views as much as we would have liked to. But ocean smell is ocean smell, so we arrived on a Saturday evening, ready to eat some seafood and lie to ourselves thinking it was summer.

We started off with an appetizer of mussels. The mussels came with a garlic butter white wine sauce, although you could substitute that for Marinara sauce. The garlic butter white wine flavor was delicious, but there wasn’t enough sauce, so you really didn’t get to the taste the full flavor until the bottom of the pile. The roasted red peppers add a subtle flavor that I had never experienced with mussels, but honestly, I would have preferred just the sauce.

Our dinner orders came shortly after. I had the grilled swordfish sandwich served on a toasted brioche roll with chipotle mayo on the side. I was really craving some swordfish, and the sandwich was just how I imagined it would be. The flavor of the grilled swordfish combined with the tangy chipotle mayo was a dynamite combination that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own but really enjoyed with the butter brioche roll.

The clam strips were a giant portion, which we appreciated dearly. The strips themselves were really big. They were sweet and delicious, fried but not overly fried. It was the type of meal that we could have eaten the entire order and not felt too bad about ourselves afterward (we know from experience because that’s what happened).

Jake’s is a pretty cool place if you can get down to Hull. If you live in Boston, you could take a short ferry from the long wharf and to get to Hull and take an uber to Jake’s. Pair that with a beach day on Nantasket beach and you have yourself a solid weekend!