A New Menu and Extended Bar Lead The Way To Salem Summer
The options in Salem for lunch or dinner have become legion. It’s difficult to keep track of them all. We regularly see new places open up, and have seen a few favorites fade away. Rumors of new spots to fill empty places are a regular feature of conversation.
Opus has occupied the space at 87 Washington Street for a few years now having succeeded the short lived Greenland Cafe. They are a part of the Serenitee Restaurant Group that operates nine other food spots in eight different north shore communities.
When Opus first opened we were not immediate fans. The space was good. It featured bright and modern bar, great lighting, with a really original and interesting rock walled basement space with it’s own bar and regular entertainment. The food however, while generally good was in our opinion consistently inconsistent and we found the service to be somewhat slow.
We stopped in this past weekend to see what there is to see after their recent renovations and menu changes. The ground level bar has been extended to the back of the room. The long illuminated yellow top remains and shines like a beaconed path to the door leading to the sushi station and the back outdoor patio. Natural light still bathes the dining room in a warm glow, and the exposed brick accentuates the space with a rough natural hues of red and brown.
The lunch hour had just begun and we were one of the first customers of the day. The bartender greeted just as a bar seat was selected and a drink menu laid on the bar. First to catch our eye on the cocktail menu was a list of 13 house-infused vodkas. The infusion craze, a result of the preponderance of flavored, but not really not infused mass marketed liquors, is one the best things to happen in the industry over the last twenty years. Opus is a local leader in house infusion.
A cocktail called Lust For Life, which consists of Hibiscus infused vodka, aperol, ginger, cherry bark vanilla bitters, and Prosecco, was the choice to whet the appetite. We asked the bartender if we could get it as a martini and she readily agreed. It is a well formulated and refreshing cocktail that balances it’s ingredients well. We are looking forward to exploring the other infusion efforts at Opus very soon.
There are both starters and small plates on the contemporary and eclectic menu. Hots Dates wrapped in Applewood bacon and stuffed with a feta cheese mouse; Korean Chili Grilled Octopus with Mandarin orange & shallot marmalade; Falafel Kabobs with beet tzatziki and marinated cherry tomatoes are a few of the offerings. The choice here was the Deviled Eggs with fresh horseradish and crisp copper picante.
The eggs were presented nicely on a cutting board and the the colors played nicely with both the bar top and the noon time sun. The kitchen cut them across the short way which created a slightly different visual effect than your typically presented deviled egg. A mild touch of horseradish permeates but does not dominate the flavors and allows the picante to accentuate the experience.
The entree choice came down to the burger or the steak sandwich, however the Blackened Cod Tacos did catch our eye for just a few seconds. Since we have had the Opus burger in the past it was decided that the Steak sandwich made with grilled hangar steak, boursin, water cress, tomato, red onion sofrito, and fresh horse radish was the call. Horse radish always attracts The BaldOne.
Often overlooked, the bread is a critical part of any sandwich. Opus does not overlook this key component, The bread was fresh, toasted properly, soft where it should be, and firmer in all of the right places. The sofrito and horse radish that topped the meat enhanced the flavor and texture but still allowed the steak to have it’s proper say to the taste buds. The very tender meat was cooked to nice pink color and there was plenty of it on the bread. The herb fries also deserve some good words. In a world where the french fry has become less of a co-star and more of a star, your fry game must be strong. These fries required no ketchup or any other kind of palate attracting accoutrement. They stand well enough on their own.
Opus is a spot that deserves your attention. Visit soon, check out the renovations and the new menu soon.
We also hear that they are currently hosting the Second Coming Shindig on a semi-regular basis. Check their entertainment calendar for that and other great music performances.