Getting ‘Served’ in Salisbury: The Lockup
By Nichole Dupont
We both needed a break from everything, including ourselves. Of course, food (and booze) is one way to slip down the rabbit hole of sensory overload for a few hours. Ambience helps, too. The Lockup on Salisbury’s quaint Main Street has both. That’s where my “sister” and I escaped from the rain, ducking our heads into what used to be Peter Becks Village Store, now a highly textural eatery owned by restaurateurs Eric and Liz Macaire, former owners of The Bubble Lounge (in New York and San Francisco). Liz led us through several dining nooks — a front end adorned with a magnificent marble table, a long “galley” dining area covered floor to ceiling with rough-hewn pallet boards — into a dimly lit lounge area with a plush velvet couch, provocative art, red leather chairs and a dark-stained, hefty bar.
“Will this be alright?” she asked.
My “sister” excused herself to use the ladies’ room while I pored over the menu: spring salad with breakfast radishes and fava bean puree ($14), braised short rib agnolotti ($15), salmon crudo with mint and citrus, fettuccine Bolognese with veal-pork-beef ragu ($28).
“This place is… relevant. You need to check out the restrooms,” she said when she returned.
We mulled over the wine list, but both agreed that we needed something a little stronger, something as rich as the décor. I went to my usual Old-Fashioned, which came to me in a generous tumbler filled with amber and orange liquid. We hemmed and hawed over the menu, and finally gave in to the octopus carpaccio ($16) to begin, then a Lockup Burger ($15) for her and a basic spaghetti with pesto ($19) for me.
“This reminds me of the Mt. Kenya Safari Club,” she said, reaching through the decades to her teen adventure in Africa.
“It reminds me of an artist’s haunt in Paris,” I said, reaching even further back, muddling the raw sugar at the bottom of my drink.
The octopus arrived, and was completely surprising to the eye. It didn’t “look” like octopus. In fact, the thin wedges of white meat settled in jewel-toned aspic made me wonder if I had perhaps gotten the wrong appetizer. But, we are adventurers, she and I.
“Try it,” I said, scooping some of the saffron-infused fennel onto a soft bite of the re-imagined sea creature. The taste was a reminder, wholly different in texture but familiar to the palate. Not fishy, not chewy, just a little smoky. We cleaned the artisanal arrangement with zero shame. I popped the little chive flower in my mouth.
“Wow, that was a perfect finish to this dish.” I imagined that this is what a sampler at Noma is like. A distilled essence of something, jumpstarting a memory somewhere in the sleepy brain.
Before our entrees arrived, I took a walkabout to check out the restroom situation she had raved about. Doors, totally encased in sheets of copper held on by determined rivets. I have a thing for copper, and this was almost too much. When I got back to our table, I just nodded my head at her.
“Right?!” she said.
Our second round arrived, and her burger—complete with a fried egg and a healthy portion of French fries — could’ve easily been worn as a catcher’s mask. It was that generous, and loaded with fresh greens, little fried shallots, and a light Mornay sauce. In that moment, I was so pissed off that I couldn’t eat red meat.
But the pesto and house-made spaghetti more than made up for my angst. I needed some comfort food, and I got it. In the licorice-y essence of the fresh basil and pasta. I ate every bite. And some of her fries.
Then there was that moment in the evening where our relaxed, fun server asked if we wanted to hear about dessert. It was the night before Easter. We are a French family. Treats had been consumed…almost daily…leading up to this point.
“Absolutely,” we said. In unison. Maybe a little too loudly.
The theme for dessert, and for more than a few items on the menu, was ricotta. Makes perfect sense since spring is here, and fresh, light cheese pairs harmoniously with the early spoils of the garden. My sister enjoyed a lemon ricotta cheesecake with a “side” of house-made chocolate ice cream.
“The ice cream alone,” she said, shaking her head.
It would have been a crime not to try the warm, ricotta filled beignets (the size of hush puppies and covered in a light caramel sauce). And I’m not a criminal. So I ate them. All of them. And even licked the sauce from the plate.
19 Main St., Salisbury, CT
Lunch, Sunday brunch, dinner, bar and lounge — call for hours.