Moving back the the North Shore of MA where I grew up has its perks, once of which is living a stone’s throw away from Salem. Salem is not only a little gem of a city within the suburbs, but also the Halloween capital of the United States. This, along with October being my favorite time of year, allowed me to spend almost every weekend in Salem leading up to the Day of the Dead. One of my favorite evenings out was the Saturday before Halloween, when my festive Halloween Birthday boyfriend and I tried out a newer restaurant in town, Opus. The results were chillingly wonderful, which is why I want to tell you all about it.
First, I knew Opus was fate for Dan’s and my quirky sense of taste when we found out the downstairs portion of the restaurant was holding a Golden Girls drag show that night. Unfortunately, we only caught a glimpse when using the restroom, but regardless, WICKED NEAT.
We started with drinks, naturally. I ordered the “Red Wedding”, although highly tempted by the Golden-Girls-themed cocktail flight (again, NEAT). The Red Wedding was a beautiful blend of local Brooksby farm apple-infused vodka, St. George Raspberry, Licor 43, and Prosecco. It was daintily served with a splinter of cinnamon stick. So adorable, yet packed a good boozy punch. Dan got a man beer: Attic & Eaves, a toasted brown ale by one of our favorite locals, Slumbrew.
Next, we ordered the Smoked Confit Pork Belly Tacos. With a name like that, how could we not? Needless to say, these little tiny tacos made a big impression our my taste buds. They were smoky, savory, a little sweet, and super spicy (that may be biased since I bit right into a jalapeño seed on first taste). The mix of cilantro, lime, and peppers was perfect, and the cumin was not overpowering (thankfully because I dislike it in large doses). Once we obliterated those bad boys, we had dinner to destroy.
Opus’s menu is infused with many Asian-inspired dishes, including an entire sushi menu. Since we were keen on sharing and sampling, we decided to try out the Surf N Turf Roll and the Tuna Tartare Tacos. They were served most excellently to us as an edible work of art. The Surf N Turf Roll began and ended with shrimp tempura tails, and housed little rolls of magic in between. “Magic” translates to spicy crab, Kobe Carpaccio, spicy mayo, & sweet chili – holy yum. The Tuna Tartare Tacos were a clever Mexican-inspired trio of taro root “taco” shells containing spicy tuna, avocado, yuzu tobiko, chives, and cilantro. I have always loved tuna tartare, but pairing it with cilantro and avocado to give it some Mexican flair made me want to cha-cha. For real, these two dishes were fantastic.
Despite scarfing our dinner down in a matter of minutes, we weren’t ready to leave yet. So we decided to share one last cocktail. We immediately settled on the Blue Monday, and you’re about to see why. This kick in a glass contains house-infused habanero vodka, blueberry preserves, lemon, and mulling spices served over crushed ice. I tasted the cool fruit upon sipping, and experienced the zingy warmth afterwards. It was the perfect way to warm up on a chilly night without having a hot beverage. The flavors popped, and the heat helped take the edge off the vodka.
As we finished up and were headed out, the host asked us how our first Opus experience was; thoughtful, quality, and inspirational were the words that came to mind. The food not only tasted fantastic, but it was beautifully plated. The drinks were cleverly named and concocted to bring out classic cocktails with a twist. The atmosphere was welcoming and ambient, with art and architecture to take in all around. The staff was continuously attentive and hospitable, despite having a full house on a Saturday night the week before Halloween. Not one bit disappointed, and that is a rarity when eating out as Dan and I have found in our travels.
If I’ve convinced you to head into the Witch city and check out Opus, it’s conveniently located near the Salem Depot commuter rail station, as well as a short distance off Route 128 in downtown Salem. Even though Halloween is over, Opus still holds live music and performances every week in their “Underground” downstairs level. And of course there’s sights and shops all around to visit before or after dining. I know I’ll be back, because their Charcuterie Board and Parmesan Truffle Fries are calling my name!