SALEM, Mass. – They say there’s no place like home, and at the Olde Main Street Pub in Salem, Massachusetts that statement remains true. For a while, this place was much like a second home to present owners Tim Caldwell and Kieran O’Neill.
“We actually worked here together about 12 years ago when it was another restaurant, McSwiggans,” Tim reminisced. “We balance each other out very well. He sees things I don’t see. Also, I see things that he doesn’t see as well.”
So, when the opportunity came up to get the band back together and reclaim their old stomping grounds, they jumped at the chance.
“So many people wanted to come back,” Kieran said. “All the regular from the McSwiggans days came back. That to me was just awesome.”
They’ve re-created the space to be a place that will make you feel at home as well, with comfortable booths, a cozy fireplace and an all-around casual vibe.
“The whole idea behind Old Main Street Pub was to have a local neighborhood place that’s more or less Kieran and I’s living room, and dining room as well,” Tim said. “Where everyone is welcome.”
“It’s kind of a place where you can just come in, put your feet up, and even just have a beer, glass of wine, whatever you want,” Kieran added.
The food that Tim is cooking is way beyond what you’d expect to find in your typical tavern. There are Sicilian Meatballs served on crostini in a tomato basil cream sauce, and addictive smoked gouda and goat cheese fritters served with lemon aioli.
“When you pop it in your mouth you get that nice crunch on the outside,” Tim described. “You’re going to get that initial bite from the smoked gouda, and then the tang form the goat cheese on the back end. The grilled tomatoes compliment that very well, and also lemon aioli. People love them.”
The Korean Style Duck Wings come served with Kimchi, and the Surf and Turf sliders pair crab cakes with pulled pork, for an unlikely but tasty duo.
“We have gotten a lot of raised eyebrows when that came in,” Kieran recalled, “but I’ve also gotten a lot of people that said, it’s probably one of the best mates that they’ve ever tasted.”
Entrees at Olde Main Street are impressive, from the Roasted Pork Tenderloin to the ultra-crispy Beer Battered Haddock. There are fork-tender short ribs that are braised for hours, and comforting burrata raviolis served in a tomato lemon cream sauce with a balsamic drizzle. Since the North Shore is steak tip country, Tim brought back a time-tested recipe.
“It’s the same exact steak tips from when Kieran and I worked together 12 years ago. They were such a hit then, I couldn’t change it.”
Made with a special cut of meat, these tips are topped with a flavorful Guiness Mushroom demi glaze, and have a cult like following.
“We are known for our steak tips,” Kieran agreed. “I can guarantee you that you come in, and you have the steak tips here, you will come back again for more.”
If you can fit in some more, there’s no better way to end your meal than with some Bread Pudding.
“We actually use a brioche, the same roll that we used for the burger, just a very simple custard, some fresh vanilla, pop it in the oven about 45 minutes until she puffs up,” Tim described. “She’s a beautiful, beautiful, simple bread pudding.”
So if you’re looking for a place to warm up by the fire with a cold one, or to fill your belly with some hot food, set your GPS for Olde Main Street (just not literally, because it’s actually on Essex Street).
“I stand behind everything that we do here: the staff, the food, the atmosphere, the beer list, the cocktail list. I stand behind everything because I know it’s what people like,” Kieran concluded.
You won’t find Olde Main Street Tavern on Main Street. It’s actually located at 121 Essex Street in Salem, and online at oldemainstreetpub.com.
Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.