COHASSET - Be prepared to be impressed.
Grilled Tenderloin steak, juicy pork chops, brined and bricked chicken. Neighborhood restaurants don't usually look or taste anything like The Corner Stop in Cohasset.
"Corner Stop is a modern American restaurant located in the neighborhood of West Corner, where Hingham, Hull, and Cohasset meet," described Owner Ron Vale. "We serve seasonal American food. Our menu is set up for whether you're dining with us every day or on a special occasion. I think there's a little something here for everyone."
Vale and his wife Rudy have worked in the restaurant industry for years. But this is the first place they've opened on their own, and the atmosphere is a one-of-a-kind blend of rustic and refined.
"I think in designing this restaurant I really drew a lot of inspiration from the environment," Rudy said. "If you drive around here, it's beautiful. We're in Cohasset, so the seacoast really factors in a lot to the design. But it's not your typical New England beachy atmosphere. It's a little rougher than that. So as you walk around the restaurant, you'll see different inspirations but you'll see a lot of birch; we both love birch. I think those are the elements that make the modern feel warm and inviting."
So how does the food stand up against the atmosphere? Quite well actually. Chef Sam Cabral-Curtis uses only ultra-fresh ingredients, so all kinds of classic dishes are done exactly the right way.
"Good clean flavors. That's the great thing about American cuisine is that it encompasses so many different things that there really are few limits."
Take for example the tomato soup, simply prepared with sweet field roasted tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, with a slice of aged cheddar toast on the side.
"It's warm, inviting, something you can dip your cheddar toast into. This soup brings back all sorts of memories of childhood. It's like having a grilled cheese and tomato soup."
For a little comfort food with a South American spin, there are Beef Short Rib Empanadas served with horseradish crème fraiche.
One of the most popular entrees is the deliciously juicy and perfectly crisp roasted chicken. Just as much time and attention goes into their signature "Angry and Sweet" Chicken Wings.
"The sauce is called agrodolce. So it's an onion, wine, vinegar and sugar reduction," the chef said. "They're called 'Angry and Sweet' which is the Italian translation. And then you take the sauce that you marinated them in, and you cook that down into a glaze. The process of making these things, it's a two day process."
The menu might not be huge at the Corner Stop, but it's certainly well-rounded. Grilled flatbreads come in combinations like sundried tomato, roasted cauliflower and hazelnuts. There's the Greek and Indian-influenced lamb sliders, and Southern-style Shrimp n' Grits. If you're looking for some local flavor, you can't do much better than the Pan Seared Scituate Scallops.
"Large scallops that are seared and then oven roasted to finish, served on a really light risotto that we do. So it's not heavy in cream or butter at all. It's really a nice light dish, with a little blood orange reduction. So it's a great marriage of sweet, salty. You get a nice brown sear on it. It's crispy on the outside, and still really tender," said Vale.
And if you're just in the mood to sit at the long, beautiful bar and drink a cold draft beer, the premium Hartley Ranch Steak Burger is an absolute must-order.
"That's a founding dish here at the restaurant. We had to have a great burger. It's one of the things I love most and I think is the quintessential American dish. So we need to nail and I think we did."
"It's free range, grass fed beef, aged white cheddar cheese, lettuce, onion and tomato and a little bit of our special sauce," Chef Sam described.
The atmosphere at the Corner Stop is so relaxing that a lot of customers like to linger over dessert, especially the dense and intense flourless chocolate cake. It takes a little extra time to prepare, but nobody seems to mind waiting.
"Things are so hectic these days, we want our guests to come in the door and just take a deep breath and relax. We want them to have a great time, eating some delicious food. We want to keep it simple and fun and vibrant. Every day is so hectic that this is just a place where you can feel nourished and refilled, rejuvenated," said Vale.
"What we really set out to do is create a neighborhood eatery, a place for the neighborhood to come together," Rudy Vale said. "This is something we saw missing, something that felt lively and dynamic and young and welcoming, and not stodgy. What's gratifying is all of that seems to have come true."
You can find Corner Stop at 235 Hull Street in Cohasset, or online at cornerstopeatery.com.
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