Beloved Kendall Square restaurant West Bridge, which married French cuisine with New England, closed in December 2015 after three-and-a-half years, with owners Matthew Gaudet and Alexis Gelburd-Kimler deciding to "pursue new opportunities." Now, Gaudet is revealing his next venture, a counter-service, product-driven restaurant called SuperFine, located at 25 Union St. in Manchester-by-the-Sea.
"West Bridge was such a beast and a monster, and I've always had the idea of doing something way more casual," Gaudet tells Eater. "I've been looking up on the North Shore for most of 2015." A potential spot in Beverly fell through, as did one closer to Boston, in Somerville's Union Square.
Gaudet's wife is from Manchester, which is a "historic, quintessential New England seaside town next to Gloucester," as Gaudet describes it. The restaurant will be a half mile from Singing Beach and easily accessible by commuter rail from downtown Boston, so add it to the to-do list for summer beach trips.
SuperFine's focus will be pizza, ribs, and vegetables, he says — "satisfyingly delicious familiar foods" in a "totally family-friendly" environment. He expects that there will be a lot of takeout, but for those who dine in, there will be a record player with plenty of vinyl and possibly a pinball machine if space permits. There will be an open kitchen, and the overall vibe is intended to be "festive, fun, and low-key."
Fans of West Bridge will find a couple old favorites on the menu — the ribs and the burger. West Bridge mussels and calamari dishes might make a comeback as well, and the pizza dough will be long-fermented using the West Bridge sourdough starter. There'll be a major focus on local sourcing, including New England Charcuterie meats (the wholesale arm of the ever-popular Moody's Delicatessen in Waltham), local cheeses from Wolf Meadow Farm (in Amesbury), and more. "All of my focus is on sourcing product — and doing as little as possible to screw up this product," laughs Gaudet.
Diners can also expect a daily smoked barbecue item and "plenty of simply roasted vegetable dishes and hearty, interesting salad options," says Gaudet. He's hoping to get a full liquor license and wants to highlight "cool beers" and "small production wineries."
To start, SuperFine will serve lunch and dinner, but when Gaudet permanently moves to the area in the fall, he'll consider adding breakfast and bakery items. "I'll probably end up baking croissants and baguettes every morning," he says. "There's nothing like that up there, no grab-and-go kind of stuff. And there's something organic about dough and bread and yeasty things that sort of grounds people. I don't have a ton of experience with that, but we'll start with pizza and the fermented dough, and I'll work from there. I think it'll just be fun to work with my hands a lot more."
The space, which used to be home to a coffee shop that served pizza, will have 40 seats, a few booths, a big communal table down the middle, and some room to stand and eat as well. "We ripped out a bunch of stuff, probably 100 years' worth of crap, and found exposed brick and all this exposed wood," says Gaudet. He's also making the facade look like it did in the 1950s.
In addition to regular meals, Gaudet is planning to host special monthly dinners and cooking workshops for both kids and adults. "I want this to be a community thing rather than just a restaurant thing," he says. "My daughter Augusta is a huge influence on how I approach what food means now."
"I'm excited to not spend so much time pondering over the next trend of food and trying to beat the curve and having impossible techniques that I have to develop and teach cooks, with five of us pondering over one plate," he says. "No more swooshes and dots and doodles and tweezers. No sous vide. This is all just real cooking, really based upon flavors and deliciousness. I've been saying lately that I've stopped eating with my eyes — now I eat because food is delicious."
Gaudet is hoping to open SuperFine on July 4, if not sooner.