It's a late fall day and unseasonably warm. The leaves are that right shade of New England picturesque with deep gold hues and bright, fiery oranges and reds. It's the perfect day to take a road trip, just under an hour north to Newburyport, Massachusetts.
The downtown is surprisingly quiet for a sunny weekend afternoon. Stretching right along the ocean, it's a historic center with loads of charm and character with each cobblestone step. The first stop is Brine, an oyster, crudo, and chop bar right along the main drag. They have a sister restaurant, Ceia Kitchen and Bar, which is located just across the way and features a small plates Mediterranean menu. (Another sibling, Oak + Rowan, is slated to open in Boston's Fort Point neighborhood in early 2016.) The space at Brine is charming and cozy with wooden accents and nautical nods throughout. As quiet as the town is, the restaurant is packed with some opting to bundle up and sit outside to avoid waiting for a table inside — or maybe to just soak up the last little bits of al fresco dining for the year.
After a light lunch, it's only appropriate to seek out something sweet. The Buttermilk Baking Company is located just down the street and closer to the ocean, where you can smell the sea air. It's getting a little windy and slightly cooler but the small bakery is very warm from the ovens. They are just about to close for the day, and there's a line of folks waiting to get their fix before they do. Thick cookies, sugar-sparkled hand pies, decorative cakes, and other assorted pastries sit behind tall glass windows. The most eye-catching is the apple pie, which sits tall, like a top hat. We get a sour cherry hand pie, and the walk continues.
While there are several restaurants, there are arguably even more food and cooking specialty stores. Just across from the Buttermilk Baking Company, a coffee-shop-meets-cooking-supply-store, Souffles, provides a welcome cup of coffee. The walk continues, and a run-in with Grand Trunk Old World Market reveals both foreign and domestic goodies with a large cheese and charcuterie supply.
After lazily walking thorough shops and taking in the charm of the antique brick buildings that line the main street of the downtown area, our appetites have returned, and a stop for a burger is order. Lexie's, whose motto is "peace, love, burger," is at the top of the street. It's one of three locations but the only one in the state. It's a small space with lime green walls and a bar that takes up half of the room. There are a pair of couples sipping beer at the bar next to two teens who are obsessed with their phones. A group of teenage boys are enjoying their seat by the window, and they order many burgers and fries.
Tucked away in a little shopping plaza, Joppa Fine Foods offers prepared meals and a vast array of cheeses, meats, wines, and specialty ingredients. On the final walk out, we hear a crowd of people nearby. The Poynt has just opened, a sister restaurant to The Cottage, with locations in Wellesley and Chestnut Hill. The space is vast and overlooks the ocean. There's a wait to get in, and it seems the whole town is there. The bar is lively, almost like a party.
The air starts to really get chilly as the breeze comes off of the ocean. As the sun sets, the golden light bounces off the buildings in the center of town, and the whole city seems to glow as we walk back to the car.