The Portside Tavern impresses with high-caliber cuisineBy Colby Radomski • Photography by Tommy Costello
Portside Tavern is not the restaurant Bob Murphy and his wife, Patti, had first envisioned opening. The South Shore natives and restaurateurs had every intention of transforming the ailing building at 72 North St. into a sports-themed eatery. Given the building’s history (it was previously The Steak House Sports Bar) and the Murphy family’s love of Boston sports, the concept seemed fitting. But as renovations dragged on, plans changed.
“The restaurant morphed a little bit on us,” says Bob Murphy. “The whole thing changed—and it changed in a good way.”
The shingled, Victorian-style building belies what’s inside: a charming and comfortable dining atmosphere with city-grade eats to boot. I knew that I had to check it out after hearing its praises from my foodie friends.
While the multi-level layout has been kept mostly the same, the décor reflects a simple and clean aesthetic. Walls in the main dining area were given a fresh coat of paint, and exposed bricks, painted red, flank a wall behind the sizable bar area. A spiral staircase, salvaged from a shipwreck, leads to the restaurant’s second level, which also has access to an expansive outdoor deck. When summer rolls around, the Caribbean-themed space will feature a full-service bar, fireplace and lounge area for guests to sip on cocktails while catching the sunset.
The menu, which changes seasonally, was developed by culinary mastermind chef Mike Crowell-Hall and features a number of refined American dishes, as well as Mediterranean-inspired plates (the Murphys are Lebanese.) Reflecting Crowell-Hall’s “super-scratch” philosophy, most everything, from the pasta to the butchering, is made or done in-house using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. Among those featured are Cape-based E&T Farms, Big Rock Oyster Co. and Cape Cod Beer.
During a recent trip, my dining companion and I selected several dishes to share. To say we were impressed is an understatement. The cuisine was easily on par with that of an urban, fine-dining eatery and showcased the talents of chef Mike and his chef de cuisine, Nick Graney. We started our meal with an artistically plated (and vegan-friendly) mezza plate, which featured roasted carrots, white bean hummus, chickpea fritters, tabouli and grilled halloumi. Our main dishes included a savory, melt-in-your-mouth free-form homemade ravioli (pasta sheets layered with acorn squash filling and topped with maple brown butter, prosciutto and pine nut crumbs); grilled salmon over acorn squash puree and topped with celery heart and apple slaw; and the sirloin, which came bedded on wild mushroom risotto and topped with tempura-fried onion rings and red wine truffle aioli. For dessert, we were treated to a sinfully delicious double-chocolate cookie cake topped with sea salt and caramel gelato.
Apart from the food options, the restaurant has an impressive bar program, thanks to bar manager Eric Brochu, and features 22 beer options (16 are from New England), both creative and “old school” cocktails, and an extensive list of wines by the glass and bottle.
From the revamped space to its knockout menu, Portside Tavern is proving to be a must-go foodie destination.
72 North St., Hyannis