A few miles from Boston’s world-class restaurant scene, The Quarry Restaurant and Lounge aims to bring a taste of the city to the South Shore. Judging from what we tried recently, that aim is spot on.
The Quarry, which opened in May, takes the place of a longstanding Hingham eatery, Nino’s Steak & Chophouse. If you were a Nino’s customer, you would not recognize the place now. The black industrial ductwork hanging from the vaulted ceiling is now gleaming white, as are the walls. Towering windows in the main, 125-seat dining area offer views of the old quarry pond outside.
Ron and Julie Leduc, husband and wife, own the place with chef Greg Jordan, a Cambridge School of Culinary Arts graduate who worked with fabled Hub chef Barbara Lynch at The Butcher Shop, and at Hamersley’s Bistro. Most recently, he was executive chef at Mare Oyster Bar in Boston.
At Mare, he met Ron Leduc, former chief operating officer for DePasquale Ventures, a Boston restaurant group. Jordan and the Leducs bought the Hingham property and, with the help of trades-trained relatives, turned the place into The Quarry in a scant 34 days.
“We’d renovated our 200-year-old house,” Julie Leduc said. “We had no fear.”
The elegant interior, augmented with fresh flowers from a Dorchester florist, is easily matched by the food. Our server, Paul, started us off by grating garlic into a small plate, mixing in fresh herbs and sea salt, and dousing it with extra virgin olive oil, into which we dipped fresh bread from Heart Artisan Bread in Plymouth.
The Quarry is big on using regional vendors, including Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, Hornstra Farm Dairy in Norwell, and Nona’s Homemade Ice Cream in Hingham.
The hand-crafted cocktails menu is worth exploring, brainchild of head bartender David Danforth, including “The Restaurateur” for $10, a lovely blend of exotic Fernet Branca, ginger beer, lime, and Boston bitters.
For brunch goers, Danforth created a Bloody Mary cart, which goes table-to-table and includes such ingredients as a freshly pureed Bloody Mary mix and house-pickled okra and watermelon.
The wine list is fairly extensive, and reasonable, with per-glass offerings from $9, with regional and international choices. Pick the brain of sommelier Peter Nelson, a wine writer who travels the world gaining expertise that he is happy to share with diners.
Our party of three, which included a chef, started with baked stuffed figs ($12) with fresh black mission figs wrapped in crispy speck, stuffed with gorgonzola cheese, and drizzled with balsamic vinegar, a superbly creamy and tasty creation.
We also had the delicious house-made roasted sausage ($12) served with mustards spicy and less so, pickles and greens; it was a whopping offering that could be a small meal unto itself.
One off-the-menu appetizer we shared was the zucchini blossoms ($13), stuffed with ricotta and pesto and deep fried with tempura batter, a twist on a familiar seasonal dish.
For an entrée, the chive and honey brick Giannone chicken ($24) used an organic bird from a provider in Quebec. The chicken was perfectly seasoned and cooked juicy tender, served with a silky potato purée, braised greens, and lemon-butter sauce. The chef in our party ate every bit, declaring it a most worthy offering.
Jordan makes his own pasta, so we tried the lamb lasagna ($18), a sizeable layering of lamb ragù, baby spinach, and pecorino béchamel, easily one of the best lasagna variations we have ever tasted.
An intriguing dish is the 1-pound, whole-grilled fish, which varies according to what Jordan can get. This night, it was a Costa Rican red silk snapper ($30), exquisitely seasoned and grilled, flaking easily off the bones and coming with broccoli rabe and roasted potatoes. You should pick this one down to the skeleton to get every deliciously moist bit of fish.
Desserts include Nona’s ice cream ($6) and the house-made buttermilk panna cotta ($8), topped with a rhubarb and raspberry compote, brown butter, and graham crumble. After all that food, we were not going to try dessert, but are happy we did. Next time, it will be the Hornstra Farm milk and cookies ($8), two fresh-baked cookies served with cold milk.
Topping it all off was a wonderful espresso martini ($12), an artisan cocktail of George Howell cold-press coffee made from Costa Rican beans exclusively for the Quarry, Café Patron XO, vanilla vodka, and Bailey’s Irish Cream, a decadent way to end the adventure.
Our tab was $138, not counting liquor and tip, not a bad tally for fare usually found in restaurants north of here.
And that is the idea, Julie Leduc said.
“We did this,” she said, “to take the commute out of the Boston dining experience.”
Mission accomplished.Paul Kandarian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.