Brunch at Ceia in Newburyport, MA.

Newburyport, MA.
One of my favorite places in Massachusetts. This quaint town is less than an hour outside of Boston, directly on the water, and hosts streets of adorable, independent shops that sell everything from luxury clothing, to handmade soaps, to antiques. It really is the perfect place to spend a Sunday.

What could make Newburyport an even better way to spend Sunday? Why an amazing brunch of course! Que the Boston Brunchers! Last week, the adventures of the Boston Brunchers brought me to my favorite day trip location to sample brunch at Ceia Kitchen + Bar.

Proprietor Nancy, Chef “Brando”, and waitress Julia were ready for us, and boy did they have a brunch planned for us! From a full seasonal libations menu, we were served the St Germaine 75, which was sparkly, a tad sweet, and the perfect way to start our meal on a frigid New England morning.

We were off to a great start, and things were about to get better. Julia got our attention and explained the next dish, Oyster Escabeche w/ blood orange, in perfect detail. Here’s an odd fact, I don’t like cooked oysters, only raw. Kind of backwards, I know, but none-the-less true. So when “seared” showed up in the oyster’s description, I was skeptical. But when the dish arrived…it was absolute perfection and made me instantly want more. Score one for the amuse bouche!

Next in line, the insalata course, the course I had drooled the least over leading up to  this event. Salads are rarely memorable, and usually just seem like a course “filler”. Well Chef Brando had something different in mind for this salad! Shaved SMOKED asparagus made the bulk of the salad…that’s right, smoked. Joining the asparagus was fresh mozzarella, shaved cippolinis, aged balsamic and truffle oil. But the piece de resistance…smoked asparagus puree. It was life changing and plate-lick worthy.

And then it was time for the main course, the one that caught all of our attention the moment the menu was announced, Linguica and Potato Hash with Poached Eggs and Quail Béarnaise. Yeah, I think I’ve said enough. But I will say more. This dish was so beautifully executed that more than one bruncher proclaimed it the best single brunch item they had ever eaten. The textures, the flavors…everything about this meal sent our taste buds into a tizzy….and now I am hungry again…

After a visit from Chef Brando and Nancy, where they explained the inspiration behind their menus (seasonal ingredients, their combined Portuguese, French and Italian backgrounds) and their love of using local ingredients, dessert was served! The raspberry and coconut pain perdu was served with a surprise glass of late harvest Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. Sadly (happily?) my taste buds did not want the flavor of the egg dish washed away, so I was only able to taste the dessert. The texture was lovely (think stuffed french toast) and it was not overly sweet. The wine, however, I was able to finish. You know I love my dessert wine!

One note, the only dim spot in the meal were the rolls. They were not at all special, and they seemed like they may have been from the day before. This was sad because they were served alongside a delicious tapenade of olive oil, sun-dried tomato, olives and garlic. I kind of wanted to eat the dip with a spoon.

Other than that, this meal left me wanting to give the team at Ceia a standing ovation. Honestly. They had obviously put so much thought into our meal that shined through. I am excited to go back and see if the experience is just as amazing if I were dining not with a group of bloggers…I suspect it will be.

Oh, and I will be back. Like I said, Newburyport is one of my favorite close escapes, and this meal at Ceia is definitely worthy of a road trip.

Disclaimer: Ceia Kitchen + Bar provided brunch free of charge to Boston Brunchers. We were only responsible for the payment of the tip and any additional beverages we may have had. As always, all opinions are my own.
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