Brunch is one of the favorite New England weekend pastimes, and this past weekend the great people at No.8 Kitchen and Spirits (37 Main St, Amesbury). allowed us to do it up like a marathon as they took group of bloggers and freelance writers on a trip to Amesbury.
The owner Hugh also owns Battery Park (33 Batterymarch St) in Boston, so we first met up there to to check out the hidden gem of this spot, the outdoor patio which can seat up to 75; a massive number for the area. As the spring gets underway, they will be bustling with activity like Island Creek Oyster sponsored oyster bakes, to draw in the after-work and late evening crowds.
After the quick tour, we were off to our shuttle/party bus The Bustonian, where we were greeted with Presecco mimosas in Solo cups – classy. The 30 minute drive seemed all but too short before we arrived to the quaint No. 8 Kitchen & Spirits in the middle of quintessential America.
As soon as we walked in most of us were immediately drawn into the view of the river that calmly raged outside. Neighbors were walking their dogs down along a path that led behind the restaurant; the smell of fresh burning wood filtered in from the fire place in a picturesque New England scene. We learned later that building’s water location served a purpose. It used to be a mill, hence the name No.8, that fell victim to a fire and later was restored and repurposed.
Serenity aside, it was time to eat and an enthusiastic Chef Paul cooked a stadium sized meal for us share. Unfortunately for me and the other vegetarian who took the trip, most of the courses were carnivorous, but my dining partners were kind enough to wait until after a barrage of photos before digging in.
Although, I can’t speak to how the meat dishes tasted, I can speak to the most popular dish on the menu the Duck Confit Hash (soffritto, potato, 2 poached eggs, toast, sriracha hollandaise). As duck is already a rich meat added with the hollandaise, it would be advisable to share with at least another person, maybe two!
A highlight of the meal for me had to be the use of skillets, one of the most popular being the freshly made cornbread. It comes with a jalepeño honey butter (Chef Paul included a smoked maple and porkbelly butter on the one pictured), we veggies later got a taste of it without the butter and it was piping hot and delicious!
What I can certainly talk about at length were the cocktails which were Boston brunchworthy. My first cocktail of the afternoon (technically second) was the Berry Hot (ghost pepper infused tequila, strawberry, lime, and agave) was a perfect balance of sweet and spicy and freshly muddled strawberries added a touch of summer.
The next drink that was the rave of the table was the signature No. 8 Gin & Tonic (Brockman’s gin, grapefruit-lavender bitters, tonic, Prosecco) I’m not a big fan of lavender in my drinks so that took a bit away from the drink for me, but that didn’t stop me from finishing it.
Another popular item, if only in part due to the presentation was the The Fizz (sparkling wine, orange zest, bitters and a sugar cube). For your first pour, the server will bring the sparkling wine over to the table, and show how the drink changes from clear to a deep orange.
Other items they brought out were the Cured Meat Board – usually served on the dinner menu.
The Local Greens salad (apple, curry candied pecans, golden raisins, goat cheese, lemon thyme vinaigrette) – It was vegetarian, but just a salad. *womp*
The Roasted Beet Salad is on the menu as a vegetarian item (smoked yogurt, grapefruit, pepitas, red watercress) to which Chef Paul added Prosciutto weaved on top *sad face*.
We were also treated to the Banhmi (15 hour roasted pork shoulder, country pate, pickled zucchini & carrots, sriracha aioli, chips & pickle) and the House made Pastrami Sandwich (No. 8 kimchi, swiss, rye bread, chips & pickle). The chips on the menu said that they would be waffle chips, and they weren’t, but the chips they did have were quite tasty and were made in house.
Another popular item on the menu is the The Pork Belly Taco. He sent out a non-meat item with a Chick Pea Taco which had a bit of Siracha on it and an aioli sauce which isn’t typically on the menu. I liked that the chick pea was seared, but wasn’t a fan of all of the dressings.
Experiencing No.8 Kitchen & Spirits as a vegetarian was quite challenging! Even though they appear to have a lot of veggie-friendly items on the menu, it seems as if the Chef is more proud of the in house curing of a variety of meats and wanted to highlight that within our brunch. I also wanted to try more of their typical brunch items, french toast, Belgium waffle, and even their Heirloom Green Tomatoes, which I don’t think I have ever seen in Boston *sigh*. If you are a meat eater that likes to be adventurous with your meats, and likes duck especially, then I believe you would have a quality dining experience. But, if No.8 wants more “city folk” to flock, they’ll need to be more palate sensitive in their offerings.