Carlson’s Landing opens again with a fresh menu
JP Dillon says he’s ready to get back to work. The executive chef at Carlson’s Landing in Essex and his colleagues have been looking forward to the spring season since December, when the restaurant closed for the winter.
“We’re super excited. We’ve put in a lot of a lot of hard work over the last three months,” he said.
Carlson’s Landing reopens its doors April 15 after a winter hiatus, featuring a refreshed menu. The restaurant, which debuted at the Essex Boat Works and Marina in October 2019, closed in December as
COVID-19 cases began to rise again. They opted to remain closed through the slow winter months, Dillon said.
“For us, we look at it as super positive,” he said. “It gave me three months to work out menus that were perfect; it gave us three months to work on our cocktail list and build our wine list.”
Dillon describes the menu as refined and French-influenced, with a few new additions and tweaks to previous items. The restaurant offers “land and sea” options, and the seafood harmonizes with the waterfront views: raw bar selections like oysters, clams and tuna tartare; small plates featuring scallops, octopus and mussels; fish and chips, mahi mahi in a tropical pineapple broth with papaya, and a buttery lobster roll.
A quinoa and crab salad ($19) that diners loved last summer, with Arcadia salad greens, peppers, zucchini, squash, herbs and lemon harissa dressing, returns for another year. The beloved burger ($19) makes another appearance, but with a different preparation: charred tomato, lettuce, caramelized onions, jalapeño, Muenster and bone marrow aioli.
Dillon added a snack menu ($8 to $14) to accommodate visitors looking to have drinks, as current COVID dining regulations require food to be served with alcohol. Options include deviled eggs with bacon, roasted mushrooms with roasted garlic puree and pistachio powder, eggplant chips with sweet potato mousse and calamari with cherry peppers.
Other entrees ($22 to $32) include fettuccine with spinach pesto, peas and cherry tomato (with optional protein additions like chicken, steak or seafood), steak frites and a quarter chicken with grilled spring vegetable and chive pommes purée. Desserts ($12 and $13) include white chocolate mocha crème brûlèe, salted caramel tart and a trio of truffles.
A section of Carlson’s cocktail menu will feature “dusted off classics,” Dillon said, including their take on a Sazerac and a Manhattan with Japanese whiskey instead of bourbon.
As the weather grows consistently warmer, the restaurant will maximize its outdoor seating by adding outdoor tables on its lawn area, in addition to the popular deck area.
Dillon says he’s eager for diners to come in and see the rejuvenated restaurant.
“When you don’t have guests coming in, and you’re moving tables and cleaning and polishing and buying new glassware and plateware and setting it up, you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, this is so exciting,’ ” he said. “But now knowing that somebody is actually going to see all the hard work...that’s what’s been keeping us going for the last three months.”
Carlson’s Landing is at 63 Main St. in Essex. The restaurant will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. 860-767-2727, carlsonslanding.com.