Seafood plates can be elegant as well. Almond-crusted scallops, sweet and delicate, come with spaghetti squash, strands perfumed with vanilla. Blood orange beurre blanc is both tart and rich.
Dishes are sometimes better on paper than plate. Fried chicken thighs look like unappealing lumps, and the buckwheat waffles they’re served with are overpoweringly sweet; the pork belly in the tacos is shriveled and dry. A black bass bouillabaisse is confusing, bouillabaisse in name alone, the bowl stocked with an abundance of white beans and the shellfish stew lacking kick. Too, the whimsical menu demands desserts more interesting than creme brulee and bread pudding.
The atmosphere is also whimsical. Approaching, a sign with the restaurant’s “O” logo gleams through the dark, promising nocturnal high jinks. Yet the restaurant is oddly bright inside. Liquor bottles perch on a track that hangs above a glowing circular bar; brick walls are chockablock with assorted artwork. A downstairs space features a movie screen, cushy leather chairs, and low tables; it feels like an expat bar one might find while traveling through Southeast Asia. Referred to as Opus Underground, this space will eventually host regular, free live music, Giddings says.
Opus also pays attention to its beer list, with draft offerings from outfits such as Pretty Things, Jack’s Abby, and Berkshire Brewing. House cocktails are a draw, too — a twist on a Manhattan, made with Old Monk rum; a just-girly-enough concoction of peach puree and rye; a sort of Korean negroni made with soju instead of gin.
Salem: Come for the spirits, stay for the spirits. And don’t forget about dinner while you’re here.
87 Washington St., Salem.
All major credit cards accepted.
Prices Small plates $5-$16. Plates for two or more $15-$28. Desserts $8-$9.
Hours Dinner Sun-Thu 5-
10 p.m., Fri-Sat 5-11 p.m. (last hour bar menu only). Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m.-
3 p.m. Brunch Sat-Sun
11 a.m.-3 p.m. Bar menu
3-5 p.m. daily. Opus Underground daily
6 p.m.-1 a.m.
What to order Samosa turnovers, scallops,
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