Cape Ann’s busiest tourism season is just winding down, but Manchester-by-the-Sea’s newest restaurant is just getting started. Superfine Food, the latest venture from a Food & Wine-lauded chef, Matthew Gaudet, is on track to open next week.
It’s the second ownership venture for Gaudet, who was behind the acclaimed West Bridge with Alexis Gelburd-Kilmer. West Bridge closed in December, and Mamaleh’s recently took over that Kendall Square space.
Shuttering West Bridge was a personal choice for Gaudet.
“[West Bridge] was who I wanted to be five years ago, and it’s not necessarily who I want to be today,” the chef said this spring. “What I really appreciate is everything having the best products, without the pomp and circumstance. There’s a giant quality of life thing for the restaurant industry, and we have to decide what’s right for us.”
Along with business partner Paul Emmett, Gaudet’s new outlet is a casual, family-friendly hangout, located about 10 minutes from Manchester’s Singing Beach. It would have been nice to introduce Superfine’s pizzas, hearty salads, smoked meats, and pedigreed ribs to beachgoers this summer, but there’s a silver lining in the late summer debut.
“If we win the locals we’ll be able to contend with the rest of the world soon enough,” Gaudet says.
The Superfine team renovated the former Coffee Cup Restaurant, exposing a brick wall in the dining room and updating the plumbing and other systems. In the process, they found a black and white aerial landscape of Boston, circa the mid-1960s, showing the Prudential Tower, but no Hancock building, and an under-construction Southeast Expressway. The team salvaged the image and had it mounted and framed, along with music posters. There are mounted TVs connected to an Atari Flashback (with 50 classic games) and a Sony PlayStation, and there’s also a record player and stacks of vinyl to play.
“It’s very retro. It’s a place to have fun,” Gaudet says.
The team is biding their time between inspections by finalizing the cocktail list for the unique spot. Implementing a full bar program at a counter-service restaurant takes some figuring out, Gaudet says, so he brought on former West Bridge bar manager Alex Howell to consult.
Superfine has a small but solid selection of quality spirits, including a couple different vodkas, gins, and tequilas, a mezcal, 10 bourbons, and a handful of Scotches. are currently experimenting with some batched cocktail recipes, to streamline service of original drinks. They will also offer classic mixed drinks, like a Dark & Stormy and a Sazerac.
“It seems a lot more common sense to just do beer and wine. But I refuse! We’re going to have ribs, and you need bourbon. It’s important. We want to serve it. It’s martini country up here, gin and tonics and stuff like that. We need to find a way to provide those, and figure out our service flow,” Gaudet says.
There are three craft beer drafts and a dozen bottle and can options, as well as a concise list of four reds, four whites, and two sparkling wines, representing small-scale, high-quality European producers.
Guests order drinks as well as food from the service bar, then seat themselves at a booth (there are three), a communal table, or one of 14 stools at a drink rail.
“It’s quick-service counter meets a bar,” Gaudet says.
To eat, the “Farm” section of the menu offers leafy greens with lime yogurt dressing and radishes, and quinoa and farro with feta, cucumbers, and seasonal vegetables. There are “Ocean” entrees, like cider-braised mussels, and the day’s catch with basil salsa verde and confit potato; and dishes by “Land:” with whiskey glazed ribs, a West Bridge favorite, and a classic bacon cheeseburger. Snack on cheese-filled gougeres (a flaky French pastry) and monkey bread, which is also served with the daily smoked barbecue offering.
It’s not the North Shore’s typical neighborhood pizza joint, but Gaudet is hopeful it will become one. The pies start with the slow-fermented starter Gaudet used at West Bridge, and toppings include lamb sausage, pepperocini, and Wolf Meadow Farm stracciatella, and clams with cloumage and spicy pork ‘nduja.
“We don’t want to be like everybody else up here, but at the same time we want to fit in,” Gaudet says.
He’s looking forward to meeting the neighbors next week.
25 Union St., Manchester-by-the-Sea, superfinefood.com.
Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaurants/2016/08/19/superfine-food-first-look/
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