I walked into Feather & Wedge on a recent Friday evening and felt as if I was entering a neighborhood spot so intimate and inviting that it felt like it had been in Rockport for years.
After a long summer of anticipation, Feather & Wedge is open, and it’s better than I could have imagined. The chic, finely-lit space is to local restaurants what the Shalin Liu is to concert halls: petite, but powerfully creative, interpretations of their province.
Feathers and wedges are tools used to split granite, references to Rockport’s once-vital granite industry, so it’s not a huge surprise that right inside the front door you’ll find a massive black-and-white photo of the fabled Blood Ledge Quarry. But it is stunning.
While the room feels enchantingly candlelit, its details reflect themes that could have been borrowed from the office of the Rockport Granite Company, the Pigeon Cove stoneworks that dominated the town economy at the turn of the 20th century.
It’s a small room, but the high ceilings and oversized Victorian mirror behind the bar give the room the illusion of a generous amount of space.
This is Rockport, where everybody knows your name, so it was no surprise to see many familiar faces filling the place.
The wine list at Feather & Wedge is utterly compelling. I couldn’t decide between the Italian Vernaccia or a Loire Sauvignon Blanc, so the bartender let me taste the Loire wine. It was delicious, but had slightly more fruit than I wanted. So I went with the Vernaccia, which she poured into a long-stemmed, thin-rimmed wine glass with a proper size bowl. (Yes, I have a thing about wine glasses. The shape of the typical stubby restaurant goblet destroys nose and taste and in wine. Why have a good wine if you’re going to kill it with an improper glass? )
My guest was instantly happy to see the Provençal Minuty Rosé, one of her favorites. I sipped hers, which she described as having a gamey-forward nose, not too sweet, and pairing well with food. I ordered that for my next glass.
We sat at a corner table, where one large window offered us Main Street views so we could nod to friends passing by. The other window looked down toward the old harbor. Quintessential Rockport framed in new ways.
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I am a fan of the limited menu: a few things done very well with the flexibility to highlight local ingredients as they become available. That’s the Feather & Wedge plan for now. The menu may expand a bit, but will never become a fold-out affair.
Our dinner was a dish so local it deserves a photo on Google Maps: fresh-made Pastaio via Corta spaghetti, tossed with lobster and local corn. The lobster was as tender as the corn, and all of it a light, sweet drape over the perfectly al dente spaghetti.
The gutsier entree option was the roast leg of lamb with braised escarole and a half a head of roasted-to-butter-garlic.
The executive chef, Patrick Steele, came to Feather & Wedge from B&G Oysters in Boston’s South End. There he worked with famed chef and restaurateur Barbara Lynch, who, in 2014, was only the second woman to be awarded the James Beard Foundation Award for outstanding restaurateur.
At B&G Oysters, Steele and Lynch specialized in small plates of inspired seafood creations. Feather & Wedge will similarly offer a variety of small plates, though not necessarily seafood, that will change almost daily. It’s a nice way to order as a foursome: choose an assortment of small plates and then share two entrees.
And may I say this makes for perfect pre-Shalin Liu dining?
To be clear, this is not your local pub. The prices reflect the quality of both the bar and dining menus: a glass of wine runs between $8–10. Small plates range from $7–9; and entrees average about $25.
Sitting at our corner table, I could picture how wonderfully warm and cozy this seat — and this restaurant — will be when a light snow begins to fall on Main Street. And how beautiful it will be when Rockport hangs their traditional little Christmas trees on its street lights.
And then again how beautiful it will be in the spring, when the pansies start fluttering in Main Street’s windowboxes.
Welcome, Feather & Wedge. You’ve got the makings of a Rockport classic.
► Feather & Wedge, 5 Main Street, Rockport (978) 999-5917. The restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday–Sunday, from 5–11pm, and for lunch on Saturday and Sunday, from 12pm–3pm. Closed on Monday.
Heather Atwood is a Gloucester-based freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor to the Gloucester Daily Times. Her first cookbook, In Cod We Trust: From Sea to Shore, the Celebrated Cuisine of Coastal Massachusetts, is available at Amazon.