Beets, Octopus, Baked Potato Soup, And Kimchi Pancakes
By The BaldOne
Naumkeag Ordinary – Roasted Beets with whipped honey goat cheese, beet top pesto, and beet chips. We found this to be a lovely dish well worth the $10. The beets, both the red and yellow were cool and crisp and were complimented both visually and in taste by the very creamy goat cheese. The beet top pesto provides a nice color contrast and blended well with the goat cheese. A definite hot day snack.
Sea Level – Grilled Octopus with carrot rosemary white bean hummus and fennel arugula salad. This dish was a very pleasant surprise. Octopus does not have to be deep fried. The hummus has slight tan to orange color with a subtle presence of both the rosemary and white beans. Lightly grilled octopus with no breading meant that the meat was tender but not chewy. Few things are better on the summer than fresh herbs, cabbage, and black olives in a proper oil drizzle. $14 is a fair price for this dish, especially when it comes with the view of Salem Harbor from the Sea Level upper deck.
Olde Main Street Pub – Loaded Baked Potato Soup. You may normally expect this to be a creamy sort of soup. Well, that is not what Chef Tim Caldwell had in mind when he decided to serve this soup from his kitchen. Plenty of baked potato, bacon, and chive are in this very hearty and tasty “soup du jour.” The soup changes on a regular basis, so your timing will have to be right to catch this one on the menu. What really stood out for us with this soup was the nice texture of the chicken broth, the subtle contrast of colors between the potato and the broth, and the wonderful blended flavors. Chef Caldwell has long been a favorite of this opinionated lover of good food and his position within that realm remains secure.
Bonchon Salem – This new place on Essex Street may have made it’s claim to fame with chicken wings, but we are finding the many other Korean themed offerings fascinating. The Kimchi Pancake Trio at $9.95 is one of those that have attracted our attention, and our devotion. This one is a mix of napa cabbage, turnips, carrots, onions, and red bell pepper. Kimchi is not for everybody, but the Bonchon version is mild enough for most American palates. They have managed to find a middle ground that works. The pancakes are thin, and crisped a bit on the outside with a little cilantro for accent. They come with both sesame soy and a chili sauce for dipping.