Cozy, warm, festive, historic, special, all words I would use to describe 10 Center Street in Newburyport, MA. This past Friday evening, my high school friend Julie and I took the commuter rail from Boston to Newburyport, ready for a night of wandering the streets of this festively-decorated quintessential New England town.
Note that the commuter rail station is NOT in downtown Newburyport as we assumed but a 45 minute walk. Thankfully, Julie asked another commuter before we attempted said walk, and we were able to get a cab ride into town for just $4.35 from the station. If you were planning on heading up to Newburyport by train, I would suggest having a cab company number handy in advance!
Once we arrived, I tried to take a few photos of the holiday decorations, one of the reasons I love this little town. However, taking photos with numb, shaking hands isn’t easy, and between that and a very dark restaurant, the above is all I ‘ve got!
Because of the cold and a lack of open stores, we decided to head to Agave Mexican Bistro for margaritas and chips while we waited for our husbands to arrive for dinner. We both opted for the prickly pear margarita which was a nice blend of sweet and salty and was a necessary companion for some fresh, hot tortilla chips and salsa. It was the perfect way to kick off a Friday night out.
After our margaritas, we headed to 10 Center Street for our dinner reservation. Housed in an old building, the restaurant has wide pine floors, exposed beams and a loft, and fireplaces galore. When we arrived at our table, right in front of one of the fireplaces and just a few feet from another, I actually felt warm for the first time in days! The rooms are very dimply lit with candles and the fireplaces providing much of the light. The warm lighting really gives the restaurant a special vibe.
We all ordered beers to get started, and I had a Chimay on draught. I have been enjoying dark beers so much lately, and this one is certainly a favorite. For starters, we shared Baked Lobster & Artichoke Dip (Double Cream Brie & Grafton Cheddar/Old Bay/Crispy Pita Chips) and Crispy Fried Calamari
(Corn Flour Dusted Rings & Tentacles with a Peppadew Pepper Relish & Roasted Garlic Aioli). I was excited to see peppadews on the menu after our delicious goat cheese and peppadew dip at the Whole Foods holiday event. Both appetizers were great, but the creamy lobster dip with fried pita chips was the clear favorite. We could have licked the bowl clean! The calamari was really good as well, especially as the breading was light and you could really taste the freshness of the sweet calamari.
It was close to impossible to decide on an entrée, but I narrowed it down to about three and then finally chose the Potato Gnocchi (Mustard Greens/Roasted Sweet Potato/Melted Goat Cheese/Toasted Pecans/Bitter Coco & Maple Cream Sauce). I just knew the combination of bitter mustard greens, soft gnocchi and goat cheese, and maple cream would be out of this world, and I was right. The portion was fairly large, and I could only eat about half before throwing in my napkin. It made a fantastic breakfast at 9:30 the next morning
We were all happily full at the end of the meal and declined even a look at the dessert menu. With everything else being absolutely stellar, I am sure the desserts would have been impressive if we had room!
The prices at 10 Center Street are incredibly reasonable and I would say pretty low, considering the high quality, creativity and volume of food. The atmosphere is one of my favorites in New England. Year round, there is so much beauty to be found in Newburyport and its environs that a day trip, followed by dinner at 10 Center Street, is the perfect getaway from the city and a fun time for out of town guests. I can not wait to return to this beautiful North Shore gem.
Do you have a favorite day trip from your hometown?