We arrived at 42 Degrees North, on Route 3A in Plymouth, on a warm summer evening to find the snazzy outdoor bar packed with patrons. We spotted a couple of seats but found them marked with cell phones, the new universal symbol for “I’m still here.” So we trudged indoors to the empty bar and nearly empty restaurant, and were glad we did. There, we got the full attention of our affable bartender, Brooke, and learned lots of things.
For example, 42 Degrees North is part of a family of restaurants that include two more located further up the South Shore area than we typically venture. They have a fishmonger who delivers a catch of the day and the kitchen is never sure what it’s going to be. They change their menu seasonally, and what we had before us was pretty new.
And very impressive.
The Big Dog spotted oysters on the menu and Brooke sped off to learn that they were, in fact, the product of our friends at Big Rock Oysters in Harwich. He ordered four ($2.50 apiece) and liked them a lot — they were meaty and characteristically briny, and were served with cocktail sauce and an interesting citrusy mignonette.
The wedge salad ($8.95) caught our eye and we split it. A hunk of iceberg came draped with two slabs of bacon in an odd presentation that tasted better than it looked. It came with a quartered tomato and more bleu cheese dressing than any two people should ever eat at one sitting.
Gina ordered the paella ($21.95), which is an excellent choice for people having trouble making a decision. A big bowl of rice, yellow with saffron and rich with little chunks of tasso ham, was loaded with steamed clams and mussels, just-cooked scallops, peas, peppers, and perfect little shrimp without the annoying tail shells that restaurants so often leave on. It was a hearty and tasty dish.
The Big Dog ordered the grilled lamb sirloin (also $21.95, which is about the average for the 18 very diverse entrees). The lamb was cut into pieces and served with a demiglace and a rosemary branch. He ordered it medium well and concluded that medium would have worked for this preparation, but enjoyed it.
The lamb was served with a side of quinoa laced with goat cheese that was good enough to try replicating in The Dog House some day. The crunchy little quinoas were bathed in a goat cheese sauce, with some asparagus and portabello mushrooms tucked inside.
To our dismay, we found ourselves faced with a very appealing dessert menu and were forced to endure the bread pudding ($6.95). Brooke told us that dollop of ice cream was house-made cinnamon, and that alone would be enough to bring us back to 42 Degrees North. We rarely order dessert (yes, you’ve heard that before) and this enormous, delicious, and creative dish will be difficult to top. No perfunctory BJ’s cheesecake here — the desserts are definitely given plenty of attention in the kitchen.
Throughout the evening, Gina sipped a Clayhouse cabernet sauvignon, and the Big Dog chose a Josh cab (each $9 per glass). When there’s a good selection of wines, we typically try each other’s and often make a trade, but not so this time — we each preferred the wine we had ordered.
This dinner was more expensive than our norm (about $70 plus wine and tip), and despite the large volume of food we brought home no leftovers. But the high quality food, excellent service, and attractive surroundings made it feel like a great value, and we highly recommend 42 Degrees North.
42 Degrees North
690 State Road, Manomet