Waterfront dining is an ideal setting for attaining the freshest catches, swooning at the sunset, and catching video footage of crabs walking their dogfish. Relish seafood's great evolution with today's Groupon: for $30, you get $60 worth of fresh seafood at Victoria Station, located on Salem's historic Pickering Wharf.
Salem's Victoria Station perpetuates more than 30 years of culinary tradition of plating the riches of land and sea on waterfront moorings. Settle into a leisurely lunch or dinner while sharing starters such as the beet goat-cheese stack ($7.59) or golden calamari rings ($8.59), which are for proposing marriage but are guaranteed not to last through the meal. A lunch entree of baked New England haddock ($9.99) is the smaller sibling to grand dinner portions of specialties such as jumbo fried shrimp ($18.99) and signature-roast Angus prime rib ($17.99+). Duel dinner guests with twin swordfish kabobs ($19.59) or dine on a succulent menu of turfavorites, including flame-broiled classic filet mignon wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon ($24.99).
In addition to its expansive menu, Victoria Station entertains via the adjoining Vic's Boathouse. Its new oceanfront deck and lounge host a late-night menu and live weekend entertainment made for dancing with your first mate or with impressively vocal crustacean best friends. Victoria Station also serves a full gluten-free menu and an all-you-can-eat salad for more mindful belly cravings.
Victoria Station & Vic's Boathouse
Today, Victoria Station & Vic's Boathouse 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 almost 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 99th and final location 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. The menu has earned the restaurant scores of accolades, including Best Waterfront Dining, Northshore Magazine, 2011–2013.
Vic's Boathouse, a bar and lounge at Victoria Station, opened in 2010 and has already earned the honor of Best Bar, North of 2012, according to Boston Magazine. Inside, 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.