Salisbury >> If you enjoy a chic, upscale city vibe with your dining out there is a place on Main Street in Salisbury that is right up your alley.
The Lockup restaurant (more about the name later) offers several unique dining venues, including a billiards room/bar/lounge that would befit a posh private club. The décor is funky. Works of area artists adorn the walls, the lighting is subdued, the arrangement of the tables and seating is fashioned to encourage conversation and immersion in the overall ambiance of the restaurant. The food is a pleasing mix of French and Italian cuisine with some American mixed in.
“We are extremely passionate about food,” said Eric Macaire, one half of the husband and wife team. His energetic spouse is Liz, who is instrumental in the entire operation. “We knew there was a need for this type of restaurant in Salisbury and we found an ideal spot to locate.”
The restaurant is housed in a former sporting goods and apparel store that sold, among other items, skis, some of which hang on a back wall of the The Lockup, an homage to the building’s former existence. The Macaires labored to transform the former store into a restaurant, with Eric Macaire designing what are now several dining areas.
“We gutted the interior of the building,” Eric, by trade an architect, said. “We wanted to create sort of a minimalist appearance with unique touches. We built chairs and tables made with reclaimed wood, such as maple, walnut and cherry, to give it a sort of rustic, cozy feel. We like to think the restaurant has a casual elegance.”
Included in the restaurant interior is a space in one corner that offers views of the street and where brunch or lunch can be enjoyed. There’s a long main dining area where much of the artwork is displayed, a small room that can be closed off for special occasions and private dinners, and the billiards room/bar/lounge that features soft lighting, where patrons can relax with a cocktail and a game of billiards before or after dinner, or dine at the bar or at several seating areas. There is also a fun “kids room” at the rear of the restaurant, where the young ones can retire to after they finish eating to enjoy video games and other activities.
Said Eric Macaire, “We have young children of our own and we realize that once they finish eating they don’t necessarily want to sit around with the adults. So, the kids can entertain themselves in what we call the kid’s lounge, while the parents relax and fully enjoy their dinner and conversation.”
Eric Macaire is also a former accomplished race car driver who grew up in France. In fact, one of the reasons he moved to the town with his wife some 12 years ago, was nearby Lime Rock raceway, although he has since retired from competitive racing.
Macaire is well known in restaurant circles. He was the founder of The Jubilee in New York City, and co-founder of the highly successful The Bubble Lounge, with locations in New York and San Francisco, restaurants that specialize in more than 300 varieties of champagne and sparkling wine. The couple also opened The Bottle Tree in Ancram, New York, where they were living prior to their move to Lakeville.
The Lockup opened, quite appropriately, on the biggest food day of the year, Thanksgiving Day of last year, and the reception from foodies in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut and beyond has been highly encouraging, said Eric Macaire. “We really have developed a loyal following and that is something we both love. We spend a lot of time greeting and sitting with our customers, getting to know them on a personal basis. I believe that makes them feel comfortable here and want to return.”
The Macaires brought in Kevin Daley as head chef. He has imbued the menu with a decidedly eclectic appeal, featuring variety and as much locally-sourced produce, herbs and meats as possible, especially during the summer months.
“Kevin loves changing things up and trying new dishes,” said Eric Macaire. “He takes great pride in his work and it shows.”
The restaurant also features a fine selection of wines and craft beers, again sourced locally if possible, but also with a bit of an international flair. The wine list is curated by the owner of a wine store near to The Lockup, with vintages from nearby New York State highlighted. Craft beers include a number from Connecticut, as well as from regional breweries. The cocktails served up are also a strong point at The Lockup, and it is reported that the favorite drink in the billiards room/bar/lounge is a classic martini.
Let’s take a look at a bit of the menu, shall we?
There’s a very popular oyster bar with a selection of three types of oysters, served with mignonette and cocktail sauce. There are also tartare, ceviche and crudos of the day.
You can create your own salad with baby arugula, baby spinach. mesclun, and romaine making up one dish, and a choice of any four of red peppers, green peppers, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes, roasted beets, golden raisins, walnuts and almonds. A selection of toppings include grilled tuna, cold roasted chicken, chicken paillard, and pan seared salmon. Dressings include honey mustard, balsamic vinaigrette, lemon vinaigrette, ranch, or olive oil.
Entrees on this day included a flank steak, a whole roasted chicken (or a half-roasted chicken), a full or a half rack of spare pork ribs, grilled tuna, pan seared salmon, and chicken paillard. Sides, which are a la carte, included asparagus, French fries, sautéed mushrooms, roasted potatoes, mixed green salad, and roasted sweet potatoes. Sauces included Béarnaise, white BBQ, bacon BBQ and Korean BBQ.
A popular dish is a black angus burger (“As You Like It”) that is served with any three of goat cheese. feta, cheddar, avocado, sautéed spinach, mushrooms, or tomatoes, and served with French fries and an egg (the latter for an additional $2).
One of The Lockup’s most popular dishes is mussels, served with a side of salad or fries. The mussels are served catalane (in tomato chorizo), marinere (in white wine, with garlic and shallots), and provencale (boiled on the half shell and served in butter, garlic and parsley).
The restaurant offers additional menu items, and there is an assortment of scrumptious desserts from which to choose and cap off any meal in tasteful style.
Brunch is offered at the restaurant, and features a variety of omelets, eggs Benedict, steak and eggs, buttermilk pancakes, and more. There is also a children’s menu.
The name of the restaurant? It comes from the name of the road adjacent to the The Lockup that runs off Main Street. Apparently, at one time there was a jail or holding station up the road a bit.
Hours for The Lockup are dinner on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m., brunch on Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the lounge remaining open until midnight Friday and Saturday. The restaurant’s website says that it will soon again offer lunch hours.
Call 860-596-4371, or visit www.thelockuprestaurant.com.