Today, Victoria Station in Salem is unique—but it wasn't always. In 1970, inspired by the landmark Victoria Station in London, three Cornell Hotel School graduates created a restaurant with English touches, such as a bright-red phone booth and authentic train cars they'd turned into dining cars. They opened up in San Francisco, and the business grew. By the 1980s, there were about 100 Victoria Station locations in the United States and around the world. Johnny Cash did a stint as their spokesman.
But the company filed for bankruptcy in 1986. Its rise and fall is documented in Tom Blake's book Prime Rib and Boxcars: Whatever Happened to Victoria Station? The waterfront Salem location was the very last to open, and it's the only one left.
Today, the restaurant has gone in its own direction, drawing inspiration from both the restaurant's past and its current surroundings. Classic New England cuisine and old steak-house favorites mingle comfortably on the menu. The chefs coat haddock in a seasoned cracker crust to bake and serve with chardonnay and fresh lemon juice, and the slow-roasted prime rib that made the original restaurant famous still has a place on the menu. Diners can also order up house favorites, such as lobster mac 'n' cheese with five-cheese béchamel sauce and cornbread shallot crumbs, or they can opt for an Angus burger.
Vic's Boathouse, a bar and lounge, opened in 2010. There, diners can request a local or craft brew, order a martini, or pick from the pub menu. The bar hosts nightly live entertainment, including open-mic sessions, live musicians, and karaoke, which makes for lively evenings without the expense of hiring a DJ for family dinner.
Situated on Salem’s scenic Pickering Wharf, Capt's Waterfront - Premium Steak & Seafood Grill provides guests with picturesque harbor views from its upstairs dining room and deck or first-floor bar and grill. While catching sports games playing on the widescreen televisions, guests in the bar and grill can overlook the harbor while cozied up next to the fireplace. Upstairs, the main dining area offers an ideal atmosphere for a romantic date or special event, with a full wine list and meals of charcoal-grilled steaks, lobster, and other market-fresh seafood. On Sundays, brunch momentarily takes over the eatery, with specialties such as lobster eggs benedict and apple-and-cheese French toast box served with a Bloddy Mary bar and bottomless coffees or espresso drinks.
Fishing boats never dock at Brodie’s Seaport, but their hauls are a mainstay of the eatery’s menu. Chef Billy Glidden and his culinary team show off the versatility of oceanic catches by stuffing fresh North Atlantic lobster into buttered Brioche hot dog buns, sauteeing shrimp and scallops to top papardelle pasta, and frying fish to a golden brown for classic plates of fish and chips. Not only chefs of the sea, they complement their aquatic fare with custom-grilled Angus burgers, crowned with toppings such as blue cheese crumbles, onion rings, and sliced jalapenos and sandwiches such as the Italian sausage sandwich, a classic dish from before Italians learned how to sweet talk fish into their boats.
Porthole Restaurant hauls in a multifarious dinner menu stocked with fresh seafood specialties alongside grilled meats and pasta specialties. Take taste buds for an initial dip into seaborne flavors with a half-dozen Blue Point oysters on the half shell ($9.98) or juicy scallops wrapped in bacon shackles ($9.25). Silverware sparkles in anticipation of slicing through succulent filet mignon ($16.98) served with choice of a potato and veggies or spearing Claire's seafood supreme ($14.98), which unites a delectable trio of lobster, shrimp, and scallops under a creamy cheese-sauce trade agreement. Pasta wranglers can corral herds of noodles including eggplant parmesan ($8.98) and shrimp scampi ($12.98), and amphibious appetites savor land-and-sea platters such as the Four by Four ($12.98)—a quartet of tempura shrimp sidled up next to four sirloin tips with an optional picket fence to keep meaty universes from colliding.
Veteran executive chef, Joe Guarino of Red Rock Bistro, devised lunch, brunch, and dinner menus brimming with haute cuisine and fresh-caught seafood. Gazes wander to the restaurant's massive bay window and the expansive beachfront and picturesque skyline vistas beyond before settling on flatbread pizzas bubbling with gourmet cheeses or house-made ricotta gnocchi. Delicate sauces simmered from lemon and thyme, maple bourbon, sweet onion, and other flavors season fillets of seafood and hearty chops of steak and filet mignon. Thursday through Sunday, Red Rock celebrates life with live music, which ricochets from glasses, breaks up Super Soaker fights on the patio, and bounces out across open waters as musicians cook up the sound of blues, rock, and jazz.
Against the rolling whitecaps of Devereux Beach sits Lime Rickey's, a beachfront eatery overlooking the 2,400 sailboats bobbing beside Marblehead's renowned harbor. It's an idyllic vista that encompasses everything lovely about New England's seaside culture, including the food. Lime Rickey's chefs pack ocean-fresh lobster into hearty rolls, fry clams, shrimp, and scallops, and press marinated pork, ham, and cheese into cubano paninis. Cocktails clink to the tune of live musicians, who serenade diners on the wraparound deck and deftly ignore the cries of seagulls shouting for "Freebird."