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May 29, 2008 06:11 AM

The Ship in Lynnfield

We were fans of Stephen Bell at Savory Taste in Reading so we were looking forward to trying his new place. "The Ship" on Route 1, Lynnfield. Unfortunately, he wasn't there the night we dined, so I'm going to give it another try because I'd like to think the kitchen was not at its best the night we ate there.

The space is what it is- I mean, it looks like the inside of a ship, with odd angles. However, they've really downplayed the tcotch factor, so it's not obnoxious.

They offer a huge "martini" menu which launched me on my first pet peeve. Call it a cocktail menu, and an inventive one, at that. But just because you serve fruity tooty mixed drinks straight up in a martini glass doesn't mean you're serving martinis. The actual martini we got was good- and potent. I don't recall how much it was, which triggered pet peeve #2- no prices anywhere on the drink menu.

The menu is very seafood heavy, with lots of appealing choices for seafood lovers. It's a bit too widespread though, and I have to imagine it's because they want ot be a fine dining restaurant but fear alienating the Route 1/Christmas Tree Shops crowd. So there's a "fried seafood" portion of the menu, which, while it seems out of place to me, probably is a very smart idea.

We started with Lobster Dumplings, Crab and Lobster Cakes and Mussels Calabrese (requested spicy). Lobster Dumplings weren't particularly good- 3 tough-skinned dumplings with a filling purported to contain lobster (I couldn't taste any). Crab cakes got a thumbs up. The mussels were good but they weren't kidding with the spicy- too much for me but others really enjoyed them.

"Caesar's Salad" raised a pet peeve #3 for me. It's served with "House Dressing", anchovies on request. Suspicious of the "House" qualifier, I asked if it was a "real" Caesar dressing. I was assured that yes, it was. Glad I pressed on to ask "Are there anchovies in it?" because the answer is no. I'm not sure where the disconnect was between my question and the answer in the first case, but don't say it's a real Caesar dressing when it's not. It was a bit odd. But to be fair, the menu doesn't say it's a Caesar dressing. My feeling on this is if you don't like anchovies, don't order a Caesar salad already. I know, I know, people think they don't like anchovies but a proper Caesar dressing is just so lovely- it would be nice to be able to get one around here. And to their credit, the anchovies on the side were very good, although that's not how I prefer to eat them in a Caesar salad. The salad itself was fine.

I had my heart set on the Monkfish Picatta but sadly couldn't eat most of it as it was inedibly salty. The greens underneath were even worse. And, although I'd asked specifically if the rice pilaf had peppers and was assured it didn't, it did. So I was pretty much 0 for 3. The server brought some roasted potatoes that were very good. A Seafood Casserole was very salty (but edible) and the same with a Cajun-style tilapia.

Now, to the restaurant's credit, the manager was right on the ball and offered desserts on the house. And although I was getting some wrong answers from our server, she was still doing a decent job. Plus those potent martinis had me in a good mood. The desserts were declared very good all around.

So on that note we ended our meal and due to the service and other good notes (appetizers and dessert) we'll give it one more try. Hopefully we'll either hit it on a night when Chef Bell is in the house, or he'll whack the salt shakers out of his crew's hands.

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  1. After reading your comments, I think I'll wait to try this place. Free desserts for a crappy salad and salty entree's?? Hate to ask what the tab was.

    3 Replies
    1. re: treb

      To be fair, I didn't see the bill (someone else was paying) so they might have done more that that, financially. And it wasn't a crappy salad- it just wasn't an authentic Caesar salad, but that's pretty par for the course around here.

      1. re: Chris VR

        A fake caesar is not a caesar, call it a salad with Creamy Italian. So if you looked the menu, what were the prices generally like?

        1. re: treb

          Prices (except drinks) are listed on the website (linked to on the Place page).

    2. I always hope that place will succeed,vbecause I had my very fist dining-out experience therr for my tenth birthday. My parents seemed horrified that I chose it, but I DID think it was a real ship (only got to cook on a real schooner years later,but that's another story...)

      It actually started out as fine dining then, I had my first baked stuffed shrimp, and Shirley Temple....and we all know where that led...

      1 Reply
      1. re: galleygirl

        The Ship does need a little time to get in shape. Chef Bell has been working very hard to get the restaurant where it should be and that is going to take a little time. I did speak to Chef Bell recently when I dined there and feel confident that he will eventually work everything out. I would suggest as well emailing Chef Bell with any thoughts as he is very open to suggestions.

      2. Place link

        The Ship
        24 Broadway Rte 1, Lynnfield, MA 01940

        1. Is this a remake of the original Ship restaurant, at the same location? I think it closed in the late 80s-early 90s. There have been a couple of other restaurants there, most recently a Mediterranean restaurant, I believe.

          6 Replies
          1. re: lasershow

            I think it is - I feel ancient :-)

            1. re: phonelady

              It is the location where there have been other places- but that's before my time. I think when I first saw it it was a Wethervane, then maybe an italian place, then the Mediterranean place.

            2. re: lasershow

              In the '50s and through to it's closing, The Ship was the 'ne plus ultra' of fine dining on the North Shore. As I recall the food was strictly American fare, but it was a nice white table restaurant where one would take a date or business associate to impress or would celebrate happy events. Of course, I was just a babe in arms, but I did hear the 'rents talk.....LOL

              1. re: Gio

                The original Ship did serve a to die for Caesar Salad...along with amazing seafood dishes...

                The waiters were dressed in sailor-type uniforms

                1. re: Gio

                  Wasn't it The Weathervane at one time? Ech... This place has been a loser since the orig Ship closed, a/k/a the Bishop's era.

                  1. re: Gio

                    I cannot believe The Ship is back. I had my very small wedding there, with close friends in 1978. It was my favorite upscale restaurant on Rt. 1 back then. The Continental was another, but both went downhill and The Ship closed (not sure when). It became the Weathervane after that I believe.