A consistent eclectic theme pervades Alchemy Café & Bistro, from the spacious restaurant's mismatched fabrics and assorted furnishings to each of the menus’ diverse selection of contemporary American cuisine. That eclectic culinary motif has served the eatery so well that Northshore Magazine awarded Alchemy the distinction of best tapas in the area. In the kitchen, the chefs are selective about the ingredients they use in each brunch and dinner dish. They meld these hormone- and antibiotic-free meats into entrees such as smoked confit pork belly tacos and scallop fritto misto. Designed for sharing amongst guests, the menu includes flavor-filled half-sized entrées and sharing platters, including one with steamed mussels fennel, white wine, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, house cut frites, and tarragon aioli. Patrons can dine in one Alchemy's many themed rooms, such as "The Cave" and "The Mafia Table."
The upscale casual environment, with colorful painting on exposed brick walls and leather couches surrounding candlelit coffee tables, also sees guests enjoying organic salads and tofu bites, which can be paired with a 2-4 cup pot of French-pressed coffee or one of several options from a locally-produced cocktail list. Alchemy also encourages guests to enjoy an after-dinner drink of bourbon, whiskey, or absinthe, or indulge with a dessert of maple bread pudding and flourless chocolate torte. Alchemy also contains several gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly options.
Though it overlooks Gloucester Harbor, where fishermen haul in the restaurant's supply of fresh fish and lobster, the dining room of Latitude 43 feels like it's underwater. The hull of a 36-foot Coast Guard rescue boat hangs overhead, a 16-foot iron-and-glass octopus sculpture wrought by a local iron artist dangles above the sushi bar, and a harbor mural painted by local artists enlivens the walls. The aromas of coastal cuisine waft through the oceanic interior, signaling the arrival of dishes such as grilled local swordfish, more than 17 sushi rolls, and a host of non-seafood entrees that can be prepared in gluten-free or vegetarians versions. Latitude 43 has won 'Best Sushi' by Northshore Magazine three years running, and their menu includes dishes such as Jeff's clam chowder ($4/$6), grilled swordfish with a red-wine-mushroom glaze ($24), and a signature sushi roll with tempura tuna, wasabi, goat cheese, and enoki mushrooms wrapped with a daikon radish ($18).
Because a strong ecosystem produces healthy fish, Latitude 43's restaurateurs do their part to ensure earth's well-being with their green facility. Recycled materials compose the tiles in the kitchen and around the sushi bar, and the deck's sunshades heat the dishwasher's hot water while shading guests from the sun’s deadly laser beams. An oceanfront patio hosts feasts in the summertime, while a fireplace made from locally sourced granite keeps diners cozy in the winter.
Nestled near the shoreline that juts into the Atlantic’s waters at Cape Ann, The Fish Shack nets a menu of fresh seafood soups, baskets, entrees, and lobster, hauled in by their neighbor and parent company Roy Moore Lobster Co. Traditional chowders brace bellies for autumnal chills and baseball blues, with thick and creamy new england clam chowder or thin and milky haddock chowder stepping up to the plate ($4.95/cup). For more substantial hungers, enlist the aid of a fried-sole-fish sandwich with fries or coleslaw ($8.95) or a 7-ounce shrimp basket with fries ($11.95). To create a local favorite dish, chefs crumble a crunchy Ritz-cracker crust on top of fresh scallops before baking them and drizzling them with a provençal sauce, a motley infusion of garlic, butter, and capers ($17.95). With regular fresh catches, The Fish Shack prices its lobster daily, serving the crustacean boiled, casseroled, scampied, standardized tested, and rolled.
Cala's aims for a local flavor, to the extent that one of their regular patrons catches the lobsters that go into dishes such as their lobster rolls. Local flavor infuses their menus, as well, with New England clam chowder among the appetizers and haddock and scallops among the choices for entrees. Diners can build their own pizzas with as many toppings as they please, and many dishes can be made vegetarian-style or without gluten.
Owner of Nicholas Seafood and Grille Marcia O'Brien carries on a five-generation New England tradition of delivering a menu of fresh-fish delicacies to harborside diners. Starters include Pino's popcorn shrimp, freshly popped from conch-shell kernels and attended by a pool of spicy mayo, as well as steamed P.E.I. mussels simmering in a jacuzzi of white wine, garlic, and butter. Shrimp, scallops, and lobster nestle beneath a buttery blanket of house-made breadcrumbs in the seafood casserole, and Nick's mixed dinner combines sweet italian sausage, steak tips, and honey-bourbon-marinated turkey tips. Baked haddock and grilled Atlantic salmon round out the pescetarian plethora, and steak-lovers can tuck into a slab of prime rib rubbed with sweet and savory spices and paired with rosemary-shallot butter. The regularly rotating dessert menu spins a sweet roulette wheel of fresh pie and cake baked each day.