Pizza and Beer Hits the Spot at The Riverview

The Riverview Restaurant, an Ipswich, MA must-visit

The Riverview Restaurant, an Ipswich, MA must-visit

Some time ago, my friend Kristen (who is quite knowledgable about everything awesome in New England herself) recommended we visit The Riverview in Ipswich, MA. After someone smashed the front end off my car on my last attempt to get dinner and drinks with Kristen, almost a year later we were finally able to make good on our attempt to reunite and visit The Riverview!

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As Kristen told me, her father has been coming to The Riverview since he was a teenager and as far as he can tell, nothing about it has changed. And that is the beauty and the draw of this restaurant. From its online reviews, other people feel the same about it. The Riverview is clearly a much beloved Ipswich institution. I could certainly see why, as our tab with two full pizzas and four beers ran us altogether about $30 with tip. HOLY COW. (Something to note: The Riverview is cash only.)

The Riverview knows what it’s good at and doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. This means pizza, pizza, and more pizza. Pizza is the only thing on the menu, but there is a variety of choices. Let’s be realistic – who really needs more than that anyway? As Kristen told me and I soon learned, a full pizza there is like a personal size. It has smaller slices, so if you’re a pizza fanatic, you can definitely put away a whole pie.

Lots of pizza options, all affordable

Lots of pizza options, all extra affordable

The best part is that the pizzas generally run from $6.00 to $7.00, with a couple fully loaded options outside of this range. Kristen and I both ordered cheese pizza for $6.00 each. You literally cannot beat that price. The pizza itself is delicious as well. It’s definitely classically made, nothing too fancy, just right and hits the spot every time. It’s even served simply, on metal trays with plastic utensils. With a thin crust and just the right ratio of cheese to sauce, The Riverview’s pizza fills you up but doesn’t make you feel like you just ate your weight.

Possibly the greatest combination of all time: pizza and beer

In my opinion, nothing goes better with pizza than a cold beer, and there are a number of options to choose from at $3.00 to $3.50 each. I dare you to beat those prices on a regular night anywhere. You can’t! I ordered a couple Yuenglings and Kristen ordered Bud Light. If you’re not so much of a beer drinker, there are a variety of wines and wine coolers available as well. For regular beverages, sodas, juices, and milk are on the list.

Our waitress at the Riverview was also very friendly and attentive, and even came up with a makeshift plan to block the light that was in my eyes based on my proximity to a window. I hadn’t even thought about that until she fixed it so I could be more comfortable in my spot!

A classic interior can be found at The Riverview

As far as the environment of The Riverview, I’m sure it’s been pretty much the same since the days of Kristen’s dad’s youth. With red booths, nautical or beer-related decor, and classic wood paneled walls, this place keeps its classic touch in tact.  Adding to the retro ambiance, it even has an old school jukebox. After Kristen put in some quarters, we were able to listen to classic rock while eating our pizza and drinking our beers, giving it a real back-in-the-day vibe. I love it!

If you’re on the North Shore and looking for great pizza and beer that makes your wallet and your stomach happy, you must visit The Riverview in Ipswich. It’s open Tuesday through Sunday 4:00pm-11:30pm, and you can take out or dine in. Parking is available in a rear lot or on the street. As always, if you check it out, let me know what you think!

Featured: The Riverview Restaurant, 20 Estes Street, Ipswich, MA, 978.356.0500

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Fun at the Newburyport Farmers’ Market

Entering the Newburyport Farmers' Market at the Tannery Marketplace

Entering the Newburyport Farmers’ Market at the Tannery Marketplace

Every time spring rolls around, some of my most anticipated events here in New England are the area farmers’ markets. I’m very lucky to live in a region where it seems that just about every town and city has a market. I could probably go to a different one every night of the week and weekend if I wanted to! I was going crazy because most of the markets don’t start until June, but yesterday morning I happened to be browsing Facebook on my phone in bed when I saw a post about the Newburyport Farmers’ Market being open that day. I did a quick Google scan and found out that sure enough, Newburyport is ahead of the game and their market started on May 1st!

I shot out of bed, got dressed, and texted one of my longtime best friends Nicole, and she agreed to go with me. Off we headed to the beautiful coastal city of Newburyport. Even though it was a blustery day that felt more like October than May, the sights and smells of the Farmers’ Market instantly warmed our spirits.

Baked goods from Figtree Kitchen out of Portsmouth, NH enticed market goers, including myself!

We were so excited to be at the market that we didn’t know where to look first. We kind of did a lap around all of them before approaching what we took an interest in. There were vendors selling everything from flowers and succulents, handmade headbands and accessories, soups, coffee, breakfast sandwiches made right there to order, baked goods, fresh produce, locally raised meats, and the list goes on. For a full vendor list, you can check out this page. I began with a yummy cranberry muffin from Figtree Kitchen out of Portsmouth, NH, another pretty coastal city that I love. They had so many delicious baked goods to offer that it was like being right in a cafe!

Tasting meads from 1634 Meadery, one of the highlights of the day!

It may have been morning, but in my eyes it’s never too early for a tasting of delicious locally crafted spirits. 1634 Meadery out of Ipswich, MA was on hand letting market goers taste a variety of their incredible meads, which is wine “made with fresh, unprocessed raw honey, and using local fruits” (www.1634meadery.com).

Nicole and I were ecstatic when we got to enjoy taste testing the out-of-this-world meads crafted by 1634. The tasting went from dryer to sweeter. It was so funny to see how Nicole and I reacted differently to certain meads and how we differed on what we liked best. One of the meads had a more smoked flavor to it, and while Nicole’s eyes almost popped out of her head when she tried it, it was more tame to me! I swore to the woman running their table that we must have different taste buds!

All the meads were delicious, but my favorite was the Viking Victory. According to the 1634 website, the Viking Victory is made with “bamboo honey…mulled with nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves”. Nicole enjoyed the Orange Elation the most. While the other meads include fruit sourced from New England, since we don’t grow oranges here, 1634 Meadery got theirs from Florida and it was perfectly sweet and citrusy. I totally plan on going to a 1634 Meadery tour ASAP, and will feature it on the blog!

A staple of any farmers’ market, fresh local produce

After warming right up thanks to the mead, we went on the hunt for local produce which isn’t hard to find at a farmers’ market, naturally. We’re asparagus fiends so we both bought a bundle of the veggie. It’s funny because as a kid my grandpa always cooked fresh asparagus and I hated it. As an adult I was afraid to try it again but my friend Amanda cooked some for me once and I was hooked! Interesting how our palates change over the years. I had hoped to pick up fruit at the market but I don’t think there’s much in season just yet, so I’ll have to wait until June kicks in.

Now for the adorable part – Dancing Goats Dairy out of Newbury, MA had a table where they were selling handmade chevre and tome style goat cheese. Not only were these selling these delightful products, they actually had two adorable baby goats (technically, they are called “kids”) and Nicole and I couldn’t stop fawning over them. How precious are these sweethearts? It’s been a dream of mine to one day own a dwarf goat (Nick thinks I’m crazy) and although I know the Dancing Goats babies will grow into full-size goats, I would still adopt one in a heartbeat! Sadly I didn’t since we live in an apartment and have zero land, but a gal can wish. The goat in the photo above seemed so serene and happy, probably because the woman who was holding her had a coat that must have felt like fur. Aw, be still my heart.

Soup’s on with The Soup Guy!

After finally tearing ourselves away from the goats, we stopped by The Soup Guy table where our taste buds were yet again satisfied with samples of their amazing soups and chili. All of their offerings are vegan and gluten free, so there’s something for everyone. As a huge “chowdah” fan, I loved their corn and mushroom version. Nicole tested the Bulgarian Split Pea Soup and found it delicious. However, both of us instantly broke out our wallets for The Soup Guys’ Bootleg Chili. Vegan and gluten free does not detract from the taste of the chili at all! This one’s a winner. I bought a frozen pint and Nicole bought a takeaway lunch version, served over rice with cheese, guac, and tortilla chips. Olé!

Pretty plants could be spotted all over the market

We admired more flowers and plant life,  and then for our last purchase we visited the Lilac Hedge Farm table for fresh, sustainably raised meats. Unfortunately, I didn’t grab a photo but make sure to check them out if you go to the Newburyport Farmers’ Market. I’d been wanting to purchase meat from a farmers’ market for a long time, and for some reason never had. For my first introduction into purchasing directly from the farm meats, I bought two grass-fed beef patties. They were a great size and didn’t break the bank! I am beginning to be very conscientious about making sure the meat I’m buying is quality, so I’m willing to spend extra anyway. I don’t think I can get meat any fresher than directly from the source!

I was excited to try these patties, so I made them for dinner last night. WOW. They had such a unique flavor, I couldn’t get my mind around it. I don’t know what type of burgers I’d ever eaten before, but they didn’t taste like this! Just cooking it, I could tell the grass-fed beef was on a level of its own for utmost quality and freshness, and I honestly don’t think I want to purchase from a grocery store again. Perhaps I’ll join the farm’s CSA program!

After seeing all we could at the market, it was time to head home with our purchases. It always makes me feel wonderful to be able to shop local and support those in the community who dedicate themselves to providing foods and goods for us. If you’d like to visit the Newburyport Farmers’ Market, it’s open on Sundays from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., rain or shine, at the Tannery Marketplace, 75 Water Street, Newburyport, MA. A great time will be had by all!

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Sunday Funday at Lake Massabesic

A peek at Lake Massbesic from behind the trees

Or is it technically Massabesic Lake? Either way, a spring Sunday was well-spent while trekking the trails around this beautiful spot yesterday. After a morning being lazy indoors, my friend Amanda texted me to see if I was interested in going on a nature excursion that afternoon. Since there was not a cloud in the sky and it was a perfect temperature (not too hot, not too cool), there was no way I could say no to some fresh air. After meeting at her house we headed to Auburn, NH and found the lake and a parking lot around it. Off we headed to the trails!

Me and Amanda on our excursion!

Lake Massabesic actually spreads into two areas in New Hampshire, the town of Auburn and the city line of Manchester. The lake is incredibly blue and very pristine looking, as according to the Manchester, NH website, it “collects and stores water from rainfall or melting snow that provides drinking water for 159,000 people in the regional Manchester area” (www.manchesternh.gov).

My attempt at a panoramic shot of the lake…a little lopsided, but still captured the beauty nicely! P.S. As mentioned above, Lake Massabesic provides drinking water, and boats like the ones pictured here are not allowed in restricted area of the lake. Also, no swimming allowed! 🙂

I wanted to take some time and disconnect from the technological world, and I didn’t capture any photos of inside the trails. However, the trails were pretty, clean, and not difficult to walk through. I’d say they are suitable for families of all ages. Some of the trails are more in the woods; you may be stepping over logs or muddy spots, going through leaf piles, etc. The other option on the part of the lake we were located at was to walk the Rockingham Recreational Rail Trail, which is more open and easily walkable, very convenient for biking and running. Lots of people were walking dogs while we were out – these are the perfect trails to bring your pup to, as long as you keep them on a leash. Amanda and I tried both types of trails on our walk.

Nothing but blue skies (and blue water) yesterday on Lake Massabesic

The Rockingham Recreational Trail seemed to go on forever. From what I’ve realized via some Google searches, it goes through several towns. I’d say we did about a 2.5 mile trek. I would have definitely kept going because that’s not too far, except having stayed at Nick’s parents’ house while visiting the night before, I didn’t have any sneakers with me! I had to be content with borrowing a pair of Amanda’s boots…and she is a size or more smaller than me. Yikes! My right foot was okay, but my left foot which is bigger started forming a blister after awhile. Now I’ll remember to always keep  a pair of sneakers in my car for times like this!

If you’re in the Manchester/Auburn, NH area and are looking to reconnect with nature in a not too strenuous way, I highly recommend the trails around Lake Massabesic. You can either walk the Rockingham Recreational Trail and the other trails around it, or you can also walk the Massabesic Audubon Trails. Visit this website for more details about the Rockingham Trail and how to access it, and visit this website for more about the Massabesic Audubon Center area.

Happy Trails! 🙂

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Amazing Food at A Mano

It’s just been a consistent fact of my life that I am powerless under the magic of Italian food. Few things make me feel quite as happy as a steaming plate of pasta being placed in front of me. Looking for a little bit of that serotonin boost during the dreary winter months, I booked a Valentine’s Day reservation for me and Nick at A Mano Italian Kitchen and Pizzeria here in Salem, MA.

A Mano is located in the same spot as the former 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar, and is owned by Executive Chef Antonio Bettencourt, who also owned 62. While I’d heard wonderful things about 62, I’d never gotten the chance to try it during my college years in Salem because, well, my college kid budget didn’t get me much more than Wendy’s. 62 closed and A Mano was born in its place in October 2015. The new restaurant still takes immense pride in crafting its from-scratch Italian dishes (“a mano” literally means “by hand”) but has a slightly more downhome, “approachable” feel, as was the goal of the rebrand.  Now that I moved back to Salem with a little more in my pockets than college funds had allowed, I was excited to try this new venture from Chef Bettencourt.

Ahh wine...the perfect compliment to any meal.

Ahh wine…the perfect compliment to any meal.

After taking an Uber not even five minutes down the road (hey, it was like -20 degrees out Valentine’s night), Nick and I walked into A Mano and, thanks to our reservations, were seated right away after hanging our coats. The interior of A Mano featured dim lights which are great for sipping your wine and feeling relaxed (not great for me taking photos with my phone, SORRY!). The atmosphere is cozy, with a bar and lounge tables on one side, and on the other, intimate tables and an area set up as one long booth style seat with tables for two placed intermittently, each offering a singular seat on the other side. We were seated in this area, and at first I thought we would be so focused on hearing other guests’ conversations, but that wasn’t the case and all went smoothly.

“Antipasti”…the meatballs!

We “went big” for Valentine’s Day and ordered a bottle of Riesling, my favorite type of wine. We also started out with an “Antipasti” (which I’ve looked up means “before the meal”), the meatballs which were comprised of beef, pork and ricotta with pomodoro over polenta.  The appetizer came out with three good-sized meatballs and they were perfectly tender and flavorful. I don’t think I’d ever had polenta before, because I’d never tasted anything quite like it and I think I’m now obsessed. I asked our knowledgeable waitress just what it was, and it’s like a cornmeal paste, kind of like an Italian version of grits. I probably could have been happy with just polenta as a side!

On the A Mano menu, pastas and entrees are separate sections (there’s also pizza and salad). The menu explains that pastas are mid-sized to be a second course before the entree, but you can get an entree-sized portion of any pasta. I decided to go with the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese in the mid-sized plate after seeing what still looked like a filling portion on the table of the person next to me and finding out it was the mid-size. Nick ordered one of the night’s specials, the lasagna (his favorite meal).

The photo doesn’t do the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese justice – this was seriously satisfying.

The Tagliatelle alla Bolognese was cooked to perfection and I couldn’t get enough of the Bolognese, which included veal, something else I’d actually never had before! I was just being a regular old daredevil with my food that night. The sauce had just the right amount of meat and the homemade aspect of the pasta really enhanced the dish. Nick was very happy with his lasagna, and I tried a bite; it did taste exactly as if an Italian grandma had cooked it up in her own kitchen.

Nick patiently waited, with hands crossed, for me to take this so he could dig in.

Nick patiently waited, with hands crossed, for me to take a picture so he could dig in.

I can’t end a nice dinner without something sweet, so we ordered the Warm Toffee Pudding on a recommendation from our waitress. It was delightful, and sweet it certainly was with a toffee sauce sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. Toffee is one of those flavors I find to be more exciting than always getting a dessert focused on the regular old chocolate or vanilla, so I thoroughly enjoyed this ending to our meal.

Warm Toffee Pudding hit the spot!

Warm Toffee Pudding hit the spot!

Chef Bettencourt gets two thumbs up from me for A Mano, and I’m thrilled to have another date night option in our area to visit with Nick or to bring other couples we are friends with to. A Mano allows you to make reservations through OpenTable right on the homepage of their website, (I jump for joy when I can make reservations without calling) so go make one for your next night out and thank me later! 🙂

Featured: A Mano Italian Kitchen and Pizzeria – 62 Wharf Street, Salem, MA, 978.744.0062

Diner Dreams Come True at The Ugly Mug

Oh, Mr. Groundhog. You’ve angered a lot of people with what seems like a false prediction of early spring. Many of us here in the Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire region are currently having another snow day, after just having one on Friday. Because I think Salem is gorgeous in the snow, despite the hassle of bringing the car to a packed parking garage during a snow emergency parking ban, I wanted to make the best of the morning. I thought, what better way to kick off a snow day than trying a breakfast spot we hadn’t been to before? Enter: The Ugly Mug Diner!

A well-lit, inviting atmosphere adds to the ambiance at The Ugly Mug Diner.

The Ugly Mug Diner opened in 2014 while I was living in New Hampshire, or I would have tried it back then. I’m thrilled that this snow day allowed me the opportunity to check it out because this is definitely going to be my new breakfast spot. This diner, while cozy, is definitely not what I like to call a “dive bar diner”. You won’t find a dark, outdated environment or outdated menu items here!

The interior is very clean with a creative, quirky style of decor. If you look close enough in the photo above you can see that the lights over the counter are actually coffee pots! There were also cheese grater lights above our table. I absolutely loved this – what an excellent and unique idea. While not what I would call a rustic place, the multiple chalkboard menus added a touch of a homestyle feel. Near our seat I was delighted to see “pigography” by super talented and super sweet local photographer, Joey Phoenix. Retro 80s tunes played over the sound system, and the vibe in the diner was upbeat and friendly, yet relaxing.

You can’t help but smile at the adorable guinea pigs photographed by the talented Joey Phoenix. You can purchase these sweet scenes as well!

Now, for the best part: the eats. The Ugly Mug Diner is a far step ahead in my eyes in inspired diner food and beverage offerings. Sure, you could get plain pancakes and regular coffee here if you preferred, but with so many other standout menu options, I’m not certain you’d want to! It’s obvious that all involved in running this diner take pride in the food they serve. Their website describes it perfectly on the welcome page when it says, “We are a foodie haven, not a greasy spoon”.

One of the Ugly Mug menu pages, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch on the Benedict section!

An example of items on the sweeter side would be “The Elvis Waffle”, which includes peanut butter cup chunks, banana, bacon and whipped cream. Looking for something eggy? Perhaps try the Vegiluxe off of their “Deluxe Egg Sammiches” menu, which includes a fried egg, caramelized onions, Portobello, roasted tomato and roasted garlic goat cheese. If Benedict is your style, there are several options (hello Joe’s Fishprints Dueling Crustaceans benedict, I imagined to be named after the shop on Pickering Wharf). This section of the menu is complete with a photo of British actor Benedict Cumberbatch at the top.

There are also “Sammiches” and burger options sure to please the palate. Meat lovers will drool over The P.E.L.T., which includes  “bacon and pork belly confit in a double decker BLT with sriracha aioli on sourdough bread”. I could go on and on about the different mouthwatering combinations of food at The Ugly Mug Diner, but you can just check it all out yourself here.

Which winter drink special sounds most appealing to you?

We can’t forget about drinks, and drinks there certainly are here! I have never seen such a wide variety of drinks at a diner, and I think I’m in love. They even serve adult beverages, people! You want beer? Order it up! Even try a beer cocktail while you’re at it! (The High Life Lime Rickey sounds good to me.) Don’t whine about no wine here, because it’s on the menu. Mimosas? Of course!

If the morning isn’t quite your happy hour, perk up with one of the many caffeinated options. I’ll admit, I played the safe route because I was strongly craving a Chai Latte so that’s what I got, but it was very hard to pass up ordering something like their Salted Caramel Mocha or Nutella Latte. The Toasted Marshmallow Hot Chocolate was also in the running for me. I didn’t regret the Chai Latte though, because it was actually a combo of their own Chai made in-house with tea from MEM tea in Watertown, MA.

The vast collection of ugly mugs at the aptly named diner is a delightful part of visiting!

Drinks are served to customers in random “ugly” mugs, of which I’ve heard come from a huge collection within the diner. One of my favorite parts of the experience was looking around to see all the crazy awesome mugs other patrons were sipping out of.  I definitely got an ugly mug as you can see – it has the name of a water treatment company from South Carolina on it. Nick’s mug is actually really cute, though. Who doesn’t love cartoon penguins in winter hats? Around the room, I also saw a mug with an image of the Beatles, and a funny-shaped one with the face of what seemed like a troll or a giant of some sort. I can’t wait for my next trip back to the diner just to see which mug I get next!

As for the meal, I couldn’t resist the sound of the Carrot Cake pancakes, which were written on the Specials chalkboard, complete with little carrot drawings next to it. I’m a sucker for anything adorable like that, so the deal was sealed for me.  I also got a scrambled egg on the side. Nick ordered the Western Omelet (sans avocado, which it usually comes with) and a Banana Nut muffin, which was also on the chalkboard, grilled up for warmth with butter on the side.

No words for the deliciousness of these Carrot Cake pancakes.

I don’t think I’ve ever had more enjoyable pancakes. The thought of Carrot Cake pancakes never even occurred to me. These were SO delicious, warm and soft with the scrumptious taste of carrot cake as if it was fresh from grandma’s kitchen. Sweet but not too much so, as the melty, sweet-tooth satisfying frosting provided that extra shot of sugary delight. There were actually carrot shavings on the side, so I tricked my mind into thinking, oh look! We’re even getting our vitamins today! I hope this is one special that returns again and again on the chalkboard.

Nick likes to put ketchup on everything…I’m not such a fan, but to each their own!

I know, I know, this is a horrible shot of Nick’s plate, but that’s because I was in a rush to take the first bite of those Carrot Cake pancakes 😉 As a side to his Western Omelet, Nick got a homefries mix, half regular and half sweet potato. I just had to try the sweet potato (love everything s.p.) and they were outstanding. I would take those over regular homefries any day, any time.

All too soon, it seemed like we had devoured our plates and our time at The Ugly Mug Diner came to a close as we geared up to head back out into the bitterly cold wind and snow. At least we would walk home (actually, to the bank first) full and satisfied! I’m already thinking ahead to my next visit to this delicious diner, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. After all, Ugly Mug won Editors’ Choice for Best Breakfast and Readers’ Choice for Best Brunch in Northshore Magazine’s Best of the North Shore 2015.

If you’re in the Salem, Massachusetts area, take some time to start your day out at The Ugly Mug Diner! Or, check it out for lunch. It’s open 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM every day. When you do go, let me know what mug you get in the comments 🙂

Featured: The Ugly Mug Diner – 122 Washington Street, Salem, MA, 978.745.MUGG (6844)

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Most of my life, and especially after the driving years began, I held a disdain for the snow. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking how a diehard New Englander could possibly be unappreciative of what usually feels like the longest season of the year in these parts. But, I know I’m not the only one here who felt this way. That all changed when I saw the Salem, Massachusetts area in the snow. Salem is the most magical, most beautiful city to live in scenic-wise in the winter, in my humble opinion. This historic place takes on an otherworldly snowglobe-like feeling once those flakes start sticking to the scenery.

One of my photos of the Salem Common, quiet, serene, and otherworldly in the snow.

One of my photos of the Salem Common, quiet, serene, and otherworldly in the snow.

These days, no longer in college, I’m lucky enough to live close to downtown and the snow does not stop us from being able to walk around in this winter wonderland in close proximity to our favorite bars, restaurants and shops. It’s fun to sit inside a cozy spot, imbibing in a few drinks, maybe playing some darts, as the snow falls outside. However, the real fun lies in walking around the Salem Common. The Common is beautiful no matter what time of year, but it is absolutely heavenly on days when the snow is coming down. On these days, I will just run around it with the excitement of a child, observing the beauty and trying to unsuccessfully capture it in a photo, because no picture really does it justice. It is one of those scenes where you just have to stare long enough so you can remember it in your mind’s eye rather than on your phone.

The trees on the side of the Common closest to downtown have beautiful white lights that add to the ambiance. Combined with the lights coming off of the wreaths on the windows of the historic Hawthorne Hotel, a prettier picture can’t be found. Last night, Nick and I just walked and stared in wonder. Nick took a couple pictures, which with an older phone and low light aren’t the greatest, but at least they are something! They are a memory of the happiness we felt last night, being with each other and feeling lucky enough to live in such a place.

Nick and I, happy to be walking in a winter wonderland!

Nick and I, happy to be walking in a winter wonderland!

Just posing!

If you ever get the chance to spend time in Salem, Massachusetts in the winter, I highly recommend it. There are still lots of fun activities going on; this weekend is Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival, and during Christmas there is Holiday Happenings, although I can’t always guarantee snow will be here during the holidays (but it’s still gorgeous around the area). Even last year, when New England had the snowiest winter on record and everyone was sick of it, Nick and I stayed at a hotel in Salem on Valentine’s Day (we hadn’t moved to our apartment yet) and it was still  breathtaking, with feet on feet of snow! This winter, I really don’t want that much snow again, but I don’t regret what we do have. Each season is a God-given gift, and I don’t want to take any of them for granted!

Want to see more pictures of my adventures around New England? Follow along on Instagram at newenglandstateofmind!

Saturday Scenes Around Salem

How lucky have we in New England (or at least the southern parts of the region) been getting with this December warm streak? Yes, I’m a lifelong New Englander, but it doesn’t make me any more a fan of winter. I merely tolerate it 🙂 Today has a high of nearly 60 degrees, so after getting breakfast at the always amazing Red’s, Nick and I walked around our city of Salem.

I took a few pictures to capture some fun and pretty sights of today. Enjoy!

A festive wreath stands out amongst the very classic New England look of this old building, which is located next to Salem’s oldest graveyard, The Burying Point.

Another wreath welcomes the season and matches this pretty evergreen door perfectly. Something about doors, especially when decorated, are so eye-catching and entrancing!

I cannot help but take a stroll along the water every time it’s nice out. We in New England need to make the most of these days, because we do know what furious winter weather the following months will bring! This photo looks out along Collins Cove, under a pretty blue sky.

A pretty view can be found looking out amongst the reeds. These forms of plant life themselves add a nice beachy touch to the landscape. I absolutely love this neighborhood. Thanks, Mother Nature, for being especially nice to us this week!

Date Night at Burton’s Grill Peabody

Hi everyone,

First, I want to apologize for the blogging hiatus! The past month has been crazy busy for me, but I’m ready to get back to the grindstone (the fun grindstone, that is) and start adventuring again around New England while sharing it all with you!

This past Friday, Nick and I wanted to have a date night (we have them a lot I suppose, but this time we decided to actually put a label on it). Nick had originally wanted a steak dinner, and while that’s not what he ended up ordering, we decided to go to Burton’s Grill on a recommendation, located at the Northshore Mall in Peabody, MA.

The bar at Burton's Grill

The bar at Burton’s Grill

So, Burton’s Grill isn’t exclusive to New England, but most of their locations are here, particularly in Massachusetts where you can find the restaurant in Peabody, Burlington, North Andover, Hingham, and Westford. In New Hampshire, it is located in Nashua, and in Connecticut, there is one in South Windsor.

A little scene from our table

We had made reservations through the website, so we barely had to wait when we got there. (I love when restaurants have the option to reserve online). We were luckily seated in a booth, which I prefer over tables, especially the ones that are super close to other patrons! The atmosphere had low lighting (so sorry about the photo quality) which one expects in a nice restaurant, and a contemporary vibe with nice furnishings. I didn’t feel at all like I was in the mall, although I could see stores from outside the door.

The *menu pricing is what we would expect to pay for a nicer night out. Compared to some of the places closer to the city where you might spend your entire rent on dinner, Burton’s is very reasonable, especially for us 20-somethings who really need to save!

My yummy Gingerbread Espresso Martini, complete with coffee beans

My tasty Gingerbread Espresso Martini, complete with coffee beans

We started with drinks and I decided to get a little festive by ordering the seasonal Gingerbread Espresso Martini. My friend Shiloh had been raving about Espresso martinis, and now I know why! It was so delicious, and almost like drinking a spiked ice coffee. It even had coffee beans in it.

We had been recommended by Nick’s co-worker to try the Philly Spring Rolls as an appetizer, so we did just that. Heavenly, like mini steak and cheese subs in the convenience of a spring roll. I could have eaten a thousand more. Okay, that may be excessive but you get the idea. We devoured them as soon as they arrived, and I forgot to take a picture. I told Nick the steak and cheese filling could compare to that of his favorite NH sub shop, Nadeau’s, but he told me (jokingly) to “watch your mouth” when I said that. Oops! We also had bread before the meal, and it came with a unique and tasty pesto-style dipping sauce.

The Pork Tenderloin entree in all its glory

For entrees, Nick actually ended up going with the Pork Tenderloin instead of steak. According to the menu, it came with “locally sourced pork, mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetable (he got greenbeans), cider mustard jus, and cranberry chutney”. I tried a bite and it was very tender and flavorful. Not even a need for steak here!

It may seem like a small plate, but it was more than it looks! I had leftovers at the end.

I ordered the Pan Roasted Chicken which came with “locally sourced statler chicken breast, seasonal vegetable (I also got greenbeans), mashed potatoes, and cider au jus”. The chicken and all sides were the perfect meal for a winter’s night, juicy and perfectly seasoned. I had enough left over for lunch the next day too!

We were too full to order dessert, but I’m sure it would have been amazing. One thing to also keep in mind about Burton’s Grill is that it also has a *gluten sensitive menu, and a *vegetarian menu, so there really is something for everyone. It also has to be noted that the staff at this location was very attentive, and always made sure we were satisfied and had everything we needed. If you’re looking for a spot for your next date night and you live near any of the Burton’s locations listed, Nick and I recommend it!

Featured: Burton’s Grill – Northshore Mall, 210 Andover Street, Peabody, MA, 978.977.0600

*Side note: It seems, at least according to the website, that each location has its own menu, so be sure to check the locations page to find out the menu for the Burton’s Grill closest to you for accuracy.

Weekend Recap: October 24-25

For the most part, I’d say we had a pretty lazy weekend. We live in Salem, Massachusetts which can get very chaotic this time of year during Haunted Happenings. I know how much fun it can all be as a tourist, and as a resident too, but sometimes as a local the crowds become too much to bear and we hibernate at home (no pun intended)! Essentially, this is what we did, enjoying the couch life and all the football watching the weekend brings. However, we did manage to make it out of the apartment a few times for some food (of course), drinks, and a tiny bit of sightseeing!

We didn’t do anything Friday night, so our first stop this weekend was on Saturday at lunchtime. We decided to go to Sylvan Street Grille in Peabody. I hadn’t been in a few years actually, and the last time I was supposed to go someone crashed into my car and I never made it. So, I was glad to finally revisit it this weekend!

I'm unsure who this patron is, but I wanted to capture a view of the bar and TVS

I’m unsure who this patron is, but I wanted to capture a view of the bar and some of the many TVs at Sylvan St. Grille

Sylvan Street Grille is a casual restaurant and bar with great service and a large, fulfilling menu for both food and drinks. They have many TVs in the bar, which were all playing various college football games. This was essentially Nick’s heaven, and I felt cozy here as well.  No need to get fancy, you can just come here to get some good drinks and food and have a fun time out. In fact, the motto on their website is “Eat, Drink and Chill at the Sylvan Street Grille”.

cranberry sangria

I started with the Cranberry Sangria from the specials of the day menu. Sangria is always one of my go-to’s and this one was pretty strong, but I’m a gal who likes to get her money’s worth, so I didn’t mind. Nick tried a Dogfish pumpkin ale, and he really enjoyed it as it was a strong beer with an unoffending level of pumpkin flavor. For lunch, I ordered the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad, which included grilled Teriyaki chicken breast, with sesame angel hair pasta, mixed greens, tomato, shredded carrots, crispy wantons and a homemade honey mustard sauce. I absolutely love these types of Asian salads with cold noodles, and I would definitely order this one again. Nick ordered a Chicken Parmesan sandwich and was very satisfied with his choice as well.

I had already dug into the salad when I took this photo...it did have a nice presentation before!

I had already dug into the salad when I took this photo…it did have a nice presentation before!

Nick's Chicken Parm sandwich, comfort food if you ask me

Nick’s Chicken Parm sandwich, comfort food if you ask me

I really wanted to try one of the delicious dessert options available on the Sylvan Street menu, but I didn’t know if I could stand any more food. I decided to combine my need for something sweet with a second drink order (I wasn’t driving). I chose the Blueberry Pie beer/cocktail combo of Wachusett blueberry ale with a shot of Absolut vanilla vodka (it might have been Pinnacle Whipped, I can’t find it on the online menu) and a graham cracker crust rim. With fresh blueberries inside, this combination was an incredible (and easily re-creatable at home!) palate-pleaser. The graham cracker crust was a sweet touch and the drink really did have the flavor of blueberry pie. YUM!

blueberry beer cocktail

While we didn’t do much after Sylvan Street Grille besides hang out at home and watch Halloween movies, we got out a bit on Sunday again. For more food, what else. I’ve started running again, so I don’t feel as terrible about all the food we consume, but when you love to try out restaurants, and combine that with writing about them, it becomes hard to not indulge!

Our initial idea on Sunday morning was to go to the Driftwood restaurant in Marblehead . I enjoy exploring other dining options in our surrounding towns here on the North Shore. However, upon arriving at the Driftwood, there was a pretty large group of people waiting outside and we weren’t sure if we were up for that. I figured this might happen, as I had read good reviews of the restaurant online before we left the house, so I don’t know why I didn’t just stay away if I wasn’t in the mood for crowds but alas. We kept driving through Old Town in Marblehead and came across some beautiful ocean views via the harbor, even though the morning was overcast. It made for a nice October effect over the landscape.

The view over Marblehead Harbor

The view across Marblehead Harbor

We walked a bit, admiring the seaside scenery. Then we got back in the car to meander through these historic neighborhoods as we headed back towards Salem. I had to make Nick stop so I could take a photo of one of my (many) dream houses that I come across here in coastal New England. The houses in this neighborhood are the epitome of classic New England, with many built in the early-mid 1700s, and one that was built in the 1660s! Imagine living there!

Marblehead house

The newest of my many New England dream houses…I love the classic red of these colonial homes, and the festive pumpkins across the door frame

At this point, I figured that we might as well try breakfast in Salem after all, and since I knew the Salem Diner was close to the Marblehead line, that’s where we headed. I hadn’t been there before, but had always seen it on my way to class as it sits in a vintage diner car right across from Salem State’s Central Campus. Luckily, it was around lunchtime by this point and we didn’t have a wait to sit down. I enjoyed the old diner car atmosphere and being around students. It brought me back to my college days, which are getting further and further into the past. When we looked at the menu, I noticed that it stated that the Salem Diner was run by Chartwells, which is the company that runs all the food programs at Salem State. Interesting! I had completely forgotten that the school purchased this diner early last year and reopened it.

The interior of the old diner car that is the Salem Diner

The interior of the old diner car that is the Salem Diner

Nick and I both ordered coffee and Western omelets, with ham, peppers and onions. I got cheddar cheese and Nick got American. The omelets came with home fries and your choice of toast. Home fries are a kryptonite of mine, and I think I ate more of those than I even ate of the omelet. In honesty, I wasn’t even that hungry while we were there so I only ate about half of my meal, but it was simple, classic breakfast fare and just what we needed at that moment.

After our meal at the Salem Diner we headed home again as Sunday is laundry and football day for us, as I’m sure it is for many of you! We were able to get out once more later that day, because temperatures were in the 60s and a nice walk was a necessity. We strolled around the Derby Wharf to Pickering Wharf area and made a pit stop into Jaho Coffee & Tea for a couple lattes (read my rave review of Jaho here). Granted, it was 6:00pm but I needed a pick-me-up, and I had gone to bed early the past couple of nights anyway. I ordered a French Toast latte, which has become my new favorite flavor there, and Nick ordered a Pumpkin Spice latte. (Yes, as you may have noticed, he’s very down with the pumpkin spice craze.) I also ordered an apple cider donut, well, because I clearly didn’t need it but…fall. And my sweet tooth dominates my life.

latte and donut

On our walk back, we admired the pumpkins and Halloween decorations that can be found everywhere around our neighborhood because this is Salem, Massachusetts, after all – Halloween capital of the U.S.!

A blurry photo from Nick's phone, but as Nick said, I look overly excited to see pumpkins everywhere...well yes, because I love fall!

A blurry photo from Nick’s phone, but as Nick said, I look overly excited to see pumpkins everywhere…well yes, because I love fall!

I also took a picture of another dreamy antique house, The Daniels House. Built in 1667, this house is now a bed and breakfast. I think this would be a wonderful place to stay for any history buffs who come to visit Salem and want to fully immerse themselves in its old charm!

salem house

Later on, the night was capped off by another yet walk because as crazy as this city can get this time of year, it’s home now and there is no more beautiful place in my eyes. I will always be able to see why so many people choose to make it a must-visit destination on their October itinerary, and year-round as well. That’s how I first discovered it, years ago as a tourist with my family.  Happy Halloween Week!

Featured:
Sylvan Street Grille – 12 Sylvan Street, Peabody, MA, 978.774.1724 (also a location at 195 Elm St. in Salisbury, MA)
Salem Diner – 70 Loring Avenue, Salem, MA
Jaho Coffee & Tea – 197 Derby Street, Salem, MA, 978.744.4300 (also located at 1651 Washington St. in Boston’s South End, and a coffee roaster and wine bar location at 665 Washington St. in Boston)