IN THE KITCHEN
There’s always a strong chance that a restaurant has promise if it’s family run. And that’s what we’ve got in True North, the pleasing new place that popped up almost simultaneously with -- and adjacent to -- the fab new Fore River Bridge on Route 3A. Scituate residents Janet and Joe Campbell own and operate the restaurant with Janet running the front of house and Joe the daily operations. Before buying the building, the couple were managing partners in the group that owns Cohasset’s Atlantica restaurant, the Olde Salt House, and Brisa Tapas. In the kitchen is the couple’s son, chef Ben Campbell, who honed his skills at Boston’s No. 9 Park.
I must have ignored the 38-year-old Kelly’s Landing as a viable eatery on a thousand trips into Boston. I had no idea I even knew it existed until its green façade sprang into my mind when I heard it had closed and a new restaurant had opened in its place. And, new it is! The Campbells have gutted the building and rebuilt it from the studs up. True North joins what are now a few dozen South Shore restaurants that have an exciting, urban feel. The color palette is beautiful: blue and lightish brown. A stone bar divides the 90-seat space and is further defined by industrial hanging metal shelving and lights. Square windows are set into the walls, their sills deep enough to shelve plants and things. There are high tops with very comfy chairs, low tops, booths, and banquet seating.
ON THE MENU
Clearly, the Campbells are doing something very right because on three recent visits the place was bustling. One Friday there was a wait by 6 p.m. The crowds are upbeat and generationally mixed with everybody from 20-something girls and couples to young families, to the middle-aged and their parents’ generation.
On the visits, we’ve had a couple outstanding dishes, a couple tasty ones, and a couple that were a bit disappointing.
The young chef’s promise is on full display in the grilled swordfish ($28). Don’t be put off by its long description on the menu: The tender filet is moist, perfectly seasoned, and sided with a wonderful dish of Brussels sprouts, crunchy spaetzle, and pomegranate seeds. Really delicious, too, is the meatball appetizer ($12). This filling app comes in a cast iron skillet with hunks of bread tossed among the meatballs that, covered with marinara and melted cheese, are as delicious as the meatballs. Choose this over the spaghetti Bolognese ($20) (not my favorite) if you’re wanting red Italian. The salmon piccata ($24) is a grilled filet with a hard crust covered with capers and a lot of a mustardy-tasting sauce. The shrimp in the shrimp scampi ($23) are nicely cooked, and the dish has a light citrusy beat (more garlic would make it even better). The Greek salad ($10) is a full plate of good stuff, including a tasty hunk of grilled feta, but ask for less vinegar in the dressing (an easy fix for a developing kitchen). The chef is going for something good in the braised short rib tacos ($12), but there’s little flavor in the creamed corn underlayer, and the fresh slaw on top needs more citrus. We liked the nicely fried fish and shrimp po-boy tacos ($12) more. Some dishes have so many competing flavors that questions arise. Does the (good) house burger ($14) actually taste better with potato sticks on it along with everything else? I don’t know. But that’s the territory True North will be navigating as it maintains its upward course.
True North Kitchen & Bar, 159 Bridge St., Weymouth, 339-201-7841, www.truenorthkitchenandbar.com.Joan Wilder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.