Trillium in Salem??
Our friends at Notch Brewing had a play date with the Trillium brewers and we suspect that everyone is going to benefit. Notch has been inviting other brewers to their new facility every couple of months… NOT to do a collaboration brew, but to invite the visiting team to brew ANYTHING their hearts desire as long as it’s not a session beer. Not to be overshadowed by Trillium’s visit, Notch has just tapped their first kegs of “Wooooo!” a beer brewed at Notch by Idle Hands (Malden, MA). Wooooo! Is Idle Hands’ interpretation of a pale weizenbock. Clocking in at 7.5%, it has a decidedly malt driven character from the double decoction mash that brings to mind freshly baked sweet bread. The authentic abbey yeast contributes balanced notes of banana, clove and allspice leading to a very complex and delicious beer.

An Ox of a Different Colour?
We have our ear to the ground and we’re hearing some pretty big news. Matt O’Neil, chef/owner at the acclaimed and loved The Blue Ox in Lynn, has a new project brewing in Salem. It’s still early days for O’Neil but this much is clear: It’s going to be awesome. If you’ve seen large pieces of bank vault exiting the former Salem Savings Bank on Washington Street, that’s a result of the renovation currently underway for the new restaurant which is, as of today, still without a name. We’ve heard whispers of amazing existing architecture, unimaginably high ceilings and there may be a focus on a wood grill and a well thought out wine and cocktail program. For anyone familiar with The Blue Ox, these exciting details and reports of top quality fare are not surprising. Please welcome Chef Matt to Salem!

BBQ (finally) in Salem: Update
It’s official! Steve Feldmann of Gulu-Gulu Cafe and Flying Saucer Pizza Company will open Smokin’ Betty’s BBQ this Spring to Lafayette street! We’ve also learned, just this week, that local favorite Todd Bekesha of Po’Boys & Pies will be in charge of the kitchen. We have our tentacles in a knot over this news! The location will be Lafayette Street in the building that had housed Strega and more recently Red Lulu Cocina + Tequila Bar before lying vacant for quite some time.

Sea Level Rising
It seems the catfish is out of the bag… Restaurateur George Carey will open a new iteration of Sea Level Oyster Bar & Kitchen in Newburyport this spring. Director of Culinary Program, Chef Serie Keezer, is on board as a partner along with Dave Gillis, former GM of Finz and current owner-operator of SALT Kitchen and Rum Bar. The new restaurant will be in the Market Square space formerly occupied by Not Your Average Joe’s (Newburyport). Carey tells us that the new project will build on the concept and successes of Sea Level in Salem but have its own voice within Newburyport food & drink culture.
Po’Boys & Pies
Notch Brewing and PoBoys and Pies teamed up last Sunday for an awesome pop up. Todd Bekesha and Racheal Gilman of Po’boys promise a Cajun Thanksgiving sandwich, boudin, and a chocolate pecan pie made with Notch’s own Tmavy, a dark Czech lager. Have you guys ever had boudin? It’s a type of Cajun sausage although that doesn’t do it justice. Follow Po’boys Social Media to learn about the next pop up!

[envira-gallery id=”14862″] Foreign Affairs Closes in Manchester-by-the-sea
It would appear that Manchester-by-the-sea isn’t done growing just yet. After the opening and critical success of Matthew Gaudet’s SuperfineFood this summer, the town can also look forward to Brendan Crocker starting a new project. Crocker told us this week that he plans to take over the Foreign Affairs Wine Bar & Bistro space on Central Street. Although the project doesn’t yet have a name or detailed concept, diners familiar with Crocker’s work at The Wild Horse Cafe in Beverly or The Old Spot in Salem will be very excited to see what he has in mind.
Tartine Inching closer
Tartine, at 192 Cabot St, is currently under construction and may open within a month. The owners, natives of Belgium, hope to bring the light and warmth of European cafes to Beverly. Having spent most of their lives in Belgium, they loved the convivial feel and unhurried atmosphere of the neighborhood cafes and think you might feel the same way. The name, a reference to the type of open sandwich, is a clue to the menu which will be inspired by Belgian fare and will include an authentic style of Belgian waffle which is quite different from the Americanized version that is most common here.
Speakeasy Lab opens – Craft Cocktails now on Gardner St.
Jesse Brenneman and Ian Hunter, the men behind Deacon Giles Distillery, are expanding in a major way. Anyone who enjoys cocktails should have their Hawthorne strainers in a twist over the news.
In the 2nd weekend of December, the pair will open Speakeasy Lab at the corner of Gardner and Canal Street in Salem. The space, which has been used solely to sample their gin and rum, will be retrofitted with  bar stools, high top tables, and other amenities to create an environment for relaxation and enjoyment of craft cocktails. The scene will be comfortable and quiet. Capacity will be in the neighborhood of 30 guests at any time to facilitate conversation and TVs will be verboten.One innovation that makes the Lab truly special is that instead of hiring one full time bartender, Deacon Giles plans to feature a different local bartender each month who will use their cocktail knowledge to create new and innovative recipes using the spirits made on site. One local favorite who has already signed on his Jim Moynihan, formerly of The Naumkeag Ordinary. Standard cocktails will include the “Sin & Tonic” and “Deacon Stormy” that Brenneman and Hunter have already perfected. The name, Speakeasy Lab, came from the founder’s desire to focus on high end, hand crafted cocktails with an element of the ‘cool’ and the clandestine (the speakeasy). The ‘Lab’ part of the name suggests experimentation and innovation. On any given night, a guest might taste a cocktail that has never been made before using ingredients in totally different combinations.
Speakeasy Lab Hours:
Thursday 12pm-8pm
Friday 12pm-8pm
Saturday 12pm-8pm
Sunday 12pm-8pm

Brenneman and Hunter couldn’t be more excited. They told us that the cocktail is really a much better way for consumers to try their product out and really kick the tires. They are also very excited to strengthen their relationship with the North Shore community just as Notch Brewing and Far From The Tree Craft Hard Cider have done. Whereas visitors to the Distillery have typically come in to taste a ½ oz of gin and then left, that same visitor can now relax with a full, delicious cocktail and spend some time getting to know Deacon Giles’ staff and culture.

“We hope that people will stop in for a cocktail and we’ll be able to get to know them,” Hunter said. Brenneman added, “We’ve been doing tastings all over the place for a long time and the Speakeasy Lab will bring things full circle. We can now invite people to our own place for a cocktail crafted just for them”. PS. Look for the namesake recipe creations by Creative Salem AND Octocog!

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