We’ve been ringing Carlson’s Landing for an opening date for a few weeks now, and someone FINALLY answered the phone. If the idea was creating buzz pre-opening, it worked. We headed to the very tip of Main Street in Essex last week to see for ourselves. At 5:30 pm the massive bar was entirely full, with various potions being shaken and stirred by a crew of busy tenders. But luckily for us, the smallish but oh-so-chic dining room had room for our party of four.
Local interiors star, Larry Hamre’s layout is modern and mildly mid-century with a bit of glam: deep gray walls, lovely white leather banquets, custom mahogany tables, and vaguely Sputnik lighting fixtures. I’d call it High Coastal. Undersea murals by local artist Melissa Barbieri add color and interest. Broad windows everywhere frame the glorious river view, and I won’t be the only one chomping at the bit for a spot on the deck come summer.
The chef has yet to launch the fine-dining menu (give it a couple of weeks), but you can happily nosh your way through the casual card. Deviled eggs, grilled romaine, ridiculously delicious homemade potato chips, a slab instead of an iceberg wedge, tuna burgers, fish and chips, and steak Frites, the kind of menu that will please, frankly, any sort of eater, with solid preparation and careful presentation. The Hibiscus Cosmo is a must from the drinks list of fresh takes on vintage cocktails.
They’ve got a few bugs to work out (the lobster roll, though delish, cries for a few more chunks), but nothing that a couple more weeks under their belt won’t fix.
Whether you like to share a variety of small plates or go for a burger, you’ll be happy here. The atmosphere is festive, and expert restaurateur Robert Rabine, is at the helm. A water view AND good food is a rare thing, and I think you’ll find it here.
No reservations; go early, the dining room has been filling up by 5pm, or squeeze in at the bar. Open all day, lunch and dinner.
63 Main Street in Essex
Wedge Salad with roasted tomatoes