MANCHESTER – The name on the outside says Superfine, but based on what’s happening inside it should probably say “Super-FUN”. Superfine in Manchester-by-the-Sea is a casual restaurant that serves comfort food in a laidback setting. Owners Matthew Gaudet, Paul Emmet and Chris Robbins have 35 years of restaurant experience between them, mostly in fine dining. So when it came time to open up a place of their own, they decided to do it a little differently.
“We wanted to just kind of take it outside of the city, make it super casual,” Paul said. “There is really no reason why you can’t have super high quality food while you’re wearing flip flops.”
When they designed the menu, they made sure it included all the foods they love to eat.
“It’s kids’ menu all the time,” Matthew declared. “We do all the things that we thought were great snacky stuff that we all indulge on, between fried chicken, ribs, barbecue, burgers, and pizza, and then we also work with a lot of local artisans and farmers to bring in quality product.”
When it came to decorating, the guys decided to create a space that was reminiscent of their childhood, complete with old school video games and dozens of pieces of vinyl.
“The goal here was to recreate your older brother’s downstairs bedroom that was sort of off-limits, and awesome,” Matthew said. “It was that fun time that you wanted to have as a kid.”
The food matches the mood. You can get appetizers like Garlic Knots served over tangy marinara, super- addictive Pimento Cheese Fries, or Cider Braised Mussels floating in a delicious broth. If you are tempted to order the burger, do yourself a favor, and DO NOT ask for it on a brioche bun.
“We hate the brioche, so keep the brioche to yourself. We use a potato roll,” explained Matthew. “The burger is seared on a flat-top. I firmly believe in searing a burger. You want that little bit of crunch, and that browning.”
“We don’t like hamburgers that are too big,” Chris said. “So our hamburger is a 5 ounce hamburger. It’s short ribs, brisket, and chuck. It’s a cheeseburger with bacon, with Thousand Island, lettuce, tomato, and onion. It hits all the spots.”
The Superfine team seems pretty proud of their pizza as well.
“It’s safe to say we have the best pizza on the North Shore, in my humble opinion,” Paul boasted.
You can order the beautiful pie packed with lamb sausage, pepperoncini and stracciatella cheese, or opt for one loaded up with an unlikely favorite: brussel sprouts.
“They’re delicious. They’re mini cabbages, but they’re way better than cabbage,” Matthew said. “Those are sliced super thin, browned off a little bit, and then added a lot of lemon zest.”
The kitchen really shines when it comes to barbecue, offering up a tray that changes daily, with meats like slow cooked pork, served straight out of the smoker.
“It’s just a big, beautiful meat pile on a tray, with a buttermilk biscuit and some pickled vegetables,” Paul described.
Then there are Superfine’s super-scrumptious Whiskey Glazed Ribs coated with a chickpea crumble.
“They are juicy. They pull away from the bone nice. They still have a little bit of a chew, but you get that sweetness from the sauce, and that little bit of crispiness from the dusting,” Matthew described.
You will probably find yourself ordering multiple plates of the Korean style garlic bonchon chicken, because it is that good.
“It’s been dubbed, ‘the crack chicken’ because it is kind of addictive,” Matthew said.
“It’s super crispy. We brine the chickens, and then we marinate them, and then we deep-fry them,” Chris explained. “It’s probably the crispiest fried chicken you’ve ever had. We will take your non-fried chicken eater and turn them into a fried chicken fanatic.”
Since Superfine opens most days at 8 a.m., there are plenty of breakfast options to get your day going, from creative toasts like one layered with goat cheese and caramelized apples, to a hearty breakfast bowl with bacon, egg, brown rice and vegetables. The sweetest way to have your favorite breakfast food is to get it from the dessert menu, with Paul’s Rice Krispies Treats.
“We’re really stretching the culinary boundaries with our Rice Krispies Treats, because we actually take the Rice Krispies treat and add Cocoa Krispies,” Paul explained.
For this fun-loving bunch, coming to work doesn’t seem like a job at all. In fact, the experience could be called super fine.
“We have a lot of fun here. We laugh here a lot, and I think you’ve hit the vocational lottery when you can put yourself in that kind of a situation,” Paul said.
You can find Superfine at 25 Union Street in Manchester-by-the-Sea, and online at superfinefood.com.
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