McQuade takes on new restaurant venture

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In 2016, Frank McQuade opened up McQuade's Herbs, Spices and More on the corner of First Avenue and Seventh Street. In February, McQuade is planning to open a new restaurant at the other end of the block.

The not-yet-named restaurant, at 602 First Avenue, will have a higher-end atmosphere with prices comparable to the area, he said.

It will be a place couples could have their weekly date night, McQuade said.

"We're trying to set the new bar for North Shore food. We're bring back traditional food with traditional service," McQuade said. "You're going to be able to walk in and have amazing service and amazing food all in the same spot."

To cook and handle the "amazing food," McQuade has hired Mike Flynn to be his executive chef. Flynn has been working on the North Shore in the restaurant business for over 14 years. The two worked together before.

"The time was right," Flynn said. "I took a little break from cooking when Frank got a hold of me. It was just perfect timing and the perfect storm. I don't think I would do it for anybody but Frank."

The menu will include classic dishes with a modern twist. McQuade pointed to the black and bleu burger as an example, which will be topped with sriracha candied bacon.

"So our New York strip will be cream peppercorn marinated," McQuade said. "Our chicken Marsala will have local wild mushrooms, so it's not just going to be regular button mushrooms. You're going to come in one time and have chanterelles or oysters or lobster mushrooms. It will all depend on the mushroom that being grown at the time."

Flynn said the menu's fare will be fresh, handmade and locally sourced as much as possible.

"There will be no bought sauces; it will all be from scratch and fresh," Flynn said.

The menu will feature about 25 items, ranging from appetizers to main dishes and desserts, as well as feature spices from McQuade's spice shop.

"It's a small menu, but it will be seasonal and change a lot with different specials all the time," McQuade said.

The restaurant will seat about 40 to 45 people, including space at the bar. There will be 10 to 12 taps with a couple of domestic brews, but it will be mostly local craft beers.

"On the bar side, you're going get hand-crafted cocktails. It's going to be all high-end alcohol as well," McQuade said. "We are going to try and push people away from their traditional Jack and Coke and try to get them to try whiskey in an Old-Fashioned or a Manhattan so that they are actually tasting their alcohol and not just covering it up with a soft drink.

"We want to be able to expand everyone's palates as far as food and alcohol," he said.

Flynn emphasized that the business will be a restaurant with a bar — not the other way around.

In the winter, when business is slower, McQuade and Flynn are planning to have reservation beer and wine dinners to attract more guests. They are also hoping to have a runner that will deliver food to downtown businesses like Castle Danger Brewery.

Right now, McQuade said they are updating the inside with new floors and new paint. The outside will get a facelift next summer, he said.

They are shooting for a February opening. It will be open for late lunch and dinner because, according to McQuade, downtown needs a restaurant that serves dinner.

"We are creating the new best restaurant on the North Shore," he said. "People are going to want to go there."