Rock Lobster

It had been many moons since Jeff and I had been to a legit concert. When I was a kid, I went out to see anyone who rolled through town! That was back when concert tickets were fifteen bucks and I didn’t have irrational anxiety about being in the midst of 10,000 people and suddenly needing to exit.  Today, even if Zombie Elvis himself were to make an appearance at the Boston Garden, I’d pass on it. As luck would have it, one of Jeff’s favorite singer-song writers,  Martin Sexton was playing in (sort of ) nearby Rockport at a delightful venue. We decided to take the night off and procured our tickets.

Rockport is about two hours from home. We went back and forth about staying over but ended up making it just a day trip. I knew very little about this tiny hamlet before our visit. Turns out, it’s A-dorable! There were historic buildings and cute store fronts everywhere!

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Art Assoiciation

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Example of said art.

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Cedar shakes are so friendly looking!

I had been longing for a quality lobster roll since the summer solstice.  I had a terribly disappointing one in Providence if you recall, so I thought this place would be a great opportunity for a do-over!

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I wasn’t looking for fancy, just tasty!

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The view boasted about on the menu. Sadly, not from our table. “Excuse me folks, I need a picture. I’m a blogger!”

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An unfiltered beer for him, an IPA for the lady..

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Chowder to start.

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Properly dressed.

The lobster rolls were gorgeous. Served on a grilled roll, though not as buttery and golden as I would have preferred, it was stuffed with tender claws and tail meat, and that’s all. The mayo was on the side, to be added as little or as liberally as one would like. The only thing lacking was a lemon wedge for the win!

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One with fries…

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…one with coleslaw.

After our delectable lunch, we had an hour or so to poke around this seaside treasure. There seemed to be an ice cream shop around every corner. I was hoping to get a cone when the show let out, but after asking a couple places how late they were open, it was clear that this town rolls up the side walks as soon as the sun goes down. As of this dateline I STILL have not had an ice cream this summer.

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Someday.

There were summer cottages tucked in among the shops. They all  seemed to be in competition to have the cutest plantings and flower boxes. There were no losers here!

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This was the sister restaurant to the place we had lunch. Only take out here.

The most spectacular part of Rockport is the gorgeous ocean views! I’ll let you scroll through without my needless commentary.

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Speaking of the views here. Remember when I said that the venue where we would be seeing the show was delightful? Well, here it is, the Victorian building in the middle! The whole back wall of the concert hall is glass and looks out onto the stunning atlantic!

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Could I BE more excited?

I neglected to take a photo from across the street so that you could see the facade. Let’s see if the internet let’s me borrow one.

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Will it stick?

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A close up.

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A rendering of the building I snapped in the Ladies’.

You can read all about the Shalin Lu Performance Center HERE. I will tell you that despite looking like an antique facility, this hall was built from the ground up in 2010. The performance center was designed to be an absolutely perfect listening room which also provides the most fabulous views over the harbor! We arrived with just enough time to enjoy a glass of wine upstairs in the reception hall before heading down to our seats.

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Schmoozing with the beautiful people.

Some views from the reception room:

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We made our way down to the auditorium. This space was not only elegant in design but also achieved absolute perfection for  acoustic listening.

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Anxiously waiting for the curtain to be pulled back!

So. Here’s what happened. Martin Sexton was absolutely fantastic! His opening act, the  Brothers McCann simply blew us away with their harmonies. They were great entertainers. The show was awesome!!! However, there was a great big fat elephant that sat in the room the whole night. THEY NEVER OPENED THE CURTAIN!  My friends, I know this is not life and death, it’s just a view of the  stinkin’ sunset, but it really put a damper on the evening. All the promotional materials advertised the perfect marriage of music and atmosphere. Half of that equation was sorely missing. My understanding is that it’s the artist makes the call on whether or not the curtain is drawn. Perhaps the decision is made on the basis that the view may become a distraction. I can tell you this: I was distracted! It was due to my anxiety about whether or not they were ever going to open the dang curtain!

My heart was set on seeing this view:

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Stolen from their own website.

We had a fantastic time taking in the quaint visages of Rockport. Being able to enjoy some exquisite music was just what what the doctor ordered for us, in the middle of our summer madness. We will be on the look out for other  artists playing at the Shalin Liu Performance Center. Now, my expectations will be better managed about the curtain. But I’ll still mope about it if it’s not open!

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We’re Gonna Zoom, Zoom, Zooma, Zoom!

This foray into Providence came about, well… providentially. Our daughter had tickets to a show, and though she’s a quite capable driver, the thought of her trekking all the way to Rhode Island accompanied by another young friend was a wee bit unnerving. We decided to chauffeur the girls to the concert and while away the time by dining at one of the many restaurants in Federal Hill. A much better plan indeed. I put out the call to my foodie friends, as I’m want to do, for suggestions. The feed back I got was that you really can’t go wrong anywhere here, but we did get a few names to choose from. We were visiting on a Sunday which is when a lot of fine dining establishments are closed. Luckily, one of the recommended boîtes was open for business.

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Zooma it is!

Zooma Trattoria is an Italian restaurant that features homemade pastas. When we arrived, there was a young man making fettucini in a little show kitchen.  I neglected to take a picture on the way in. When were done, the pasta show was over. Dang it.

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Empty Pastaria. I made that word up.

The interior was an eclectic mix of styles. It had a decidedly 90s feel to the front complete with hot pink chairs and funky chandeliers. The back dining room had a more sophisticated, formal look. We got a table by the front window, which was great for people watching. There were signs of wear and tear, however, including masking tape holding a bit of the window together. Bad show.

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Glass chandeliers and flamingo pink chairs.

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Artwork was featured throughout the space.

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Jeff chatting up the bartender. Either I was trying to be artsy or this was an unintentional snap. Who knows?

We started the evening with a Cucumber Gin Martini as per usual. I want to like other cocktails, but I just can’t go in for fruity concoctions.

IMG_1640Our server, Danielle brought us over some crusty bread and olive oil. She introduced herself and said it was “nice to meet us “.  I thought this was a very sweet detail. Strangely, the bread was served with a tiny salt shaker. I know salted butters are trendy, but usually it’s fancy sea salts, not plain ole’ iodized.

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Lil’ Salt

We decided to start with the carpaccio, but alas, they were out. I never mind one bit when a kitchen is out of a certain menu item. It gives me hope that thier offerings are fresh and not dug out of a freezer.  We regrouped and ordered the Mussels.  I was so famished I neglected to take a photo. The description was as follows: Cozze all a stagione: local mussels, white wine, garlic, onion, chilies & seasonal herbs. They were served with grilled bread and were quite tasty. Not the best, not the worst. Next was the pasta course. I asked our sweet Danielle to help me decide and we went for these:

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Tortellini vino rosso
hand made in house using imported Caputo flour. goat cheese filled red wine ravioli, brown butter & orange reduction

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A closer look.

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A cross section.

These tortellini were absolute perfection. The pasta was infused with red wine. It wasn’t just a food coloring gimmick. You could definitely taste the vino here. The goat cheese filling was light and creamy. It must have been whipped up with some mascarpone to get that dreamy texture. And that orange brown butter reduction was perfectly balanced between citrus and savory. A winner all around.

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A little table wine for the main course.

For the main course we went with a traditional Veal Marsala.

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Vitello al Marsala
Scaloppine of veal, Marsala wine & mushroom reduction with rosemary roasted potatoes

Tender veal, perfectly seasoned with crispy potatoes, and a deeply flavored marsala sauce with mushrooms. You could certainly tell that this was made from a bone stock and not some salty packet. Here’s what I love; there was no superfluous garnish here, just a nicely plated dish. I really don’t go in for restaurants throwing on an orchid or kale or sprinkling parsley around the edges. I just want what’s intended to make the dish taste amazing. Well done!

We still had some time before the girls were done so we decide to square up and take a walk around Federal Hill and try and find a perfect café to have a cappucinno and dessert. We heard some music emanating from this lounge so we headed over. As we got closer it turned out it was the boom, boom of a DJ. The crowd looked a wee bit too young for us.

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Too raucous.

Next, I was drawn in by the neon of the Old Canteen Restaurant. I could see through the windows that they had fancy waiters in white tuxedos. Ooh, I gotta check this out.

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Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen.

As we entered the foyer, we could see that there wasn’t a bar or lounge just a dining room. The space was enveloped in a 1967 time capsule. A sea of pink, florals and Venice murals. A little too old for us. We kept walking and found ourselves in the delightful area of Little Italy. Oh, to be here in the height of summer!

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The light on the Piaza!

We spied a lounge that looked like a good prospect!

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Could this be the one?

I think so. This is Constanino’s. From what I can tell looking back at their website, we experienced just a small portion of the operation. There’s a full service dining room, and outdoor space as well as a gorgeous Italian market serving up a plethora of pastas, meats and cheeses for consumption on the patio or to be enjoyed at home. We were at the Vendi Bar, their little lounge on the corner. This was just perfect for us. All I wanted was a cappuccino and something sweet.  We bellied up to the uplight bar and ordered  our coffee and a Grand Marnier.

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Cappucino: perfect. Grand Marnier: served in a shot glass. Face palm.

This place had an eclectic mix of patrons. We chatted with some young fellows who recommended the Tirimisu. We also got a bit of a show from a lady who seemingly had a bit too much Prosecco. There was a lot of hair tossing and leg involved. It was free with admission.

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The tirimisu was gorgeous!

We had never spent any time in Federal Hill before this evening.  The courtyards and outdoor cafés looks to be something worth the trip back down this summer. Look for me on the piazza!

 

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