Beverly’s Wild Horse Café gets new ownership but offers the same solid style. By Anna and David Kasabian // photographs by Anthony Tieuli
The Wild Horse Café, so long a favorite spot for locals while under the leadership and grill mastery of Brendon Crocker, is now under new ownership. Sam Hunt and Matt Blanchard—familiar to many as founding chef and general manager, respectively, of Hamilton’s popular 15 Walnut—have taken the reins, offering a new menu that, while remaining true to the familiar flavor extravaganza, has a fresh spin.
By press time, the dining room will have been freshened, but the feeling that you’ve entered an eclectic yet welcoming place with a shabby-chic bent will remain. And while many long-favorite dishes will still be served, there is a new focus on smaller portions at lower prices, as well as a more convivial and prominent bar.
We started with the Bacon and Egg Salad, since we’d had it before and wanted to experience their new spin on the dish. It features an amazingly flavorful housemade bacon and half of a hard-boiled egg white filled with tomato jam, served aside grilled lettuce set atop a generous smear of seasoned deviled egg filling.
Next, the Pan Fried Haddock Cakes appetizer, a tasty concoction prepared like a classic brandade in which salted codfish is fork-mashed together with new potatoes, garlic, and Asian seasoning, formed into panko-coated patties, and sautéed until crispy.
The Duet of Natural Game Hen entrée is thus named for the two cooking methods used. The sweet, tender breast meat is first brined with lemon and rosemary, then grilled to order. The legs and thighs are cooked à la confit, (slowly braised in hot duck fat), then quickly deep fried just before plating for a crunchy, satisfying texture.
The Pork, Pork, Pork entrée comprises three distinct preparations of pork, creating an undeniable taste frenzy. The most prominent cut on the plate is the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pork butt that is grilled, then braised in a Moxie barbecue sauce. Add to that flash-fried confit of pork belly and cured pork sautéed with Tuscan kale and mustard and you have a truly intoxicating combo.
For dessert, we chose a long-standing favorite of the regular Wild Horse crowd, Hunka Hunka Chocolate Cake, as well as their own homemade-style blueberry bread pudding made with brioche, creamy egg custard, Maine blueberries, and caramel sauce.
Hats off to Hunt and Blanchard for reinventing this venerable neighborhood institution while deftly preserving the best of the Wild Horse Café tradition.
Chef/Co-Owner: Sam Hunt. Appetizers: Bacon and Egg Salad ($9), Pan Fried Haddock Cakes ($11). Entrées: Duet of All Natural Game Hen ($21), Pork, Pork, Pork ($19). Desserts: Hunka Hunka Chocolate Cake ($9), Blueberry Bread Pudding ($7). Location: 392 Cabot Street, Beverly, 978-922-6868