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Globe South Dining Out

New spot is a Plymouth rock star

November 28, 2010

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It’s fitting to be dining in Plymouth a week before Thanksgiving at Alden Park — a restaurant named after John Alden, thought to be the first man to have stepped off the Mayflower onto Plymouth Rock.

The small investment group that owns this establishment shares some investors with the Abby Park restaurant in Milton and was looking for a similar name. So Alden it was.

The 140-seat restaurant, which opened in July, is tucked into a corner of the enormous, relatively new, Colony Place outdoor mall less than a mile from Exit 7 off Route 3.

The large, light-filled space mixes clean lines with curvy ones, pale colors with vibrant ones, hard tile and stone surfaces with notably comfortable, cushioned chairs and booths. The ceiling is extra high, and the room is divided by architectural elements like half-walls and arches, somehow managing to have wonderful acoustics that add to the soothing atmosphere. The owners have created an attractive, multi-use space where all ages can find a spot — at the big open bar, a cozy booth, or the private function room up front.

The restaurant, which has live music on Friday nights after the dinner hour, is offering some amazing specials to introduce itself to the neighborhood. It has a $5 Happy Hour (4 to 6 p.m.) appetizer menu, and what it calls 3-2-1 Weeknights, with burgers for $3 on Monday; tacos for $2 on Tuesday, and Duxbury’s Island Creek oysters for $1 each on Wednesday.

The regular menu, much of which is offered all day, is billed as “creative American’’ by Chef Armando Leonardi, who used to work at the West Side Lounge in Cambridge.

The bread couldn’t be better: a thin, crusty foccacia baked with a bit of cheese. (Not so sure about the light-colored olive oil, but our server was happy to deliver some butter, too.)

Our dinner started with some outstanding fried Island Creek oysters ($8): delicious (if enormous) bellies and bodies, perfectly fried and served with a bit of lemony tartar sauce and a dollop of bright apple slaw.

The crab cakes appetizer ($10) consisted of three small, good, mild-tasting cakes.

Lettuce wraps ($7) are a nice idea for a somewhat lower-cal appetizer. Each of three iceberg bowls was filled with white-meat chicken and translucent rice noodles sautéed with peppers and scallions in a light peanut and soy mix. (These would have been great if the lettuce had been handled more carefully.)

At $24, the wonderful rack of lamb was the second most expensive item on a menu dominated by dinner entrees priced in the teens. The mashed potatoes that came with the dish were dry, but for someone who never had a potato she didn’t like, all it took was a little doctoring up with the aforementioned oil, and I was good to go.

Oh, yes: a side of broccoli rabe ($5) was the best I’ve ever had at a restaurant.

The panko seared salmon ($19) was a tasty fillet with a good crust and a nice hunk of lobster covered in an avocado mayo on top.

The service on both visits was just right: Our server didn’t mind one of us subbing in mashed potatoes for the ginger jasmine rice that came with the salmon, or mixed veggies for the asparagus. On a subsequent lunch visit, another server also happily subbed a (good) mesclun salad for the fries that came with the Park burger ($11), which was delicious with sharp melted cheddar and sweet caramelized onions on top.

A less great dinner choice was the wok shrimp ($17), which had five shrimp sautéed with veggies, including carrots, cabbage, and celery, served over rice.

Lunch includes the same starters and salads as dinner, with some crossover in the entrees. I took our server’s advice, and ordered the Cape Cobb Salad ($14). The star here was meant to be the lobster, but it wasn’t up to the price of the dish.

Dessert? I adored the chocolate mousse ($7)! Chef Leonardi must use the exact ratio of dark to milk chocolate that I like. Served in a martini glass with berries and a bit of whipped cream on top, it’s rich enough for several people.

One of us also liked the very sweet, warm apple crisp ($7) — a fitting dessert for a fall meal in a restaurant in Plymouth, Massachusetts, called Alden Park.

JOAN WILDER

Alden Park
160 Colony Place, Plymouth
508-830-6777
Monday through Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.;
Thursday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
www.aldenparkrestaurant.com
Major credit cards accepted
Accessible to the handicapped