We recently took a trek up to Lynn because we'd be hearing so much about a small place called Blue Ox and were totally caught off guard by the cosmopolitan feel in this little neck of the woods. Honestly, Lynn would be the last place I'd think of as a fine dining destination but part of the fun in doing all of this is discovering fantastic new places and Chefs in surprising spots.
We stepped in the door to a modern, clean space with a packed house. Across the street we'd noticed a fairly large urban garden sprouting fresh kale that stretched across the field of other vegetables. It was easy to park. Not a bad start.
Sipping on a glass of Prosecco, we looked over the menu. The Spicy Tuna Tartare had come highly recommended: cucumber, cilantro, scallion, chive cream, Ox chili sauce and house made potato chips. Delicious. The surprise ingredient is mascarpone cheese, which Chef Matt O'Neil (a graduate of both Bates College and the CIA) tells us was used one night as a substitute and delighted diners so much that they decided to keep it.
Lobster Tacos: grilled flour tortillas, avocado, diced tomato, scallion, chipotle aioli and lime. The lobster meat was generous and the creamy avocado added to the texture. Nice.
This Duck Breast appetizer is not on the menu but was exceptionally good. Cured in coriander and brown sugar then followed by a cold smoke and served with a turnip puree and feta cheese, the plate drizzled with olive oil and balsamic reduction, it was a rich, layered plate of flavor. Ask for it.
This small charcuterie plate, also not on the menu, was packed with flavor and done in a few, small bites, unique in presentation but full of salty, rich goodness.
Roasted Faroe Island Salmon, summer vegetables,fingerlings, prosciutto and grain mustard-lemon crème fraiche. A huge fan of salmon, as readers know, this did not disappoint and it was great to see the skin left on the salmon, as it should be, the most potent source of all those heart-healthy oils.
Pan Roasted Cod, grilled corn and lime risotto, arugula and heirloom cherry tomato salad and red wine vinaigrette. The cod was also excellently prepared and that creamy risotto with a hint of lime and corn was yet another inventive addition.
Bar Manager Charlie Gaeta was on hand to recommend several wines including an excellent JJ Prum German (2011) Riesling that we enjoyed.
For dessert it was Molten Chocolate Cake with house made cinnamon ice cream and glasses of a sweet, coffee-flavored sauce. The only dessert on the menu it's well worth the splurge even if you split one for the table.
As we often find, it's the attention to small details that make the dining experiences special. The maple butter served with the fresh, warm bread. The exceptional service (and ours was beyond reproach), the different flavors and delicate preparation. Head to Lynn. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
191 Oxford Street
Lynn, MA 01901