eat new england

Eating Farm to Table, by Way of a Former Quarry

Hidden within plain sight is a casual upscale spot that gets its name from a former quarry — and now a little pond — behind the restaurant.

The exterior, plus a burger, at The Quarry in Hingham, Massachusetts.

Look around Greater Boston and much of the rest of New England and you’ll see granite everywhere: in home foundations, monuments and obelisks, bridges, curbs and, if you’re a hiker, old stone walls in the woods.

Much of the granite you see today came from long-abandoned quarries – there’s a famous one just off the Expressway in Quincy – but you hikers can also find quarries hidden away in such places as Rockport, Sharon, Lynnfield and Woburn. One former quarry is even home to a high-end restaurant, one with a name that certainly hints at its history.

The Quarry Restaurant & Lounge in Hingham indeed sits above an old quarry pond that adds a bit of beauty and peace to its location. The stretch of Route 53 that goes through Weymouth and Hingham has quite a variety of dining options, and while much of the Weymouth section and the part in Hingham near Route 228 (and Route 3) are bustling and often congested with traffic, the section right by the Weymouth/Hingham line is quiet and largely undeveloped. It’s in this wooded backdrop where you’ll find The Quarry.

The building in which the restaurant resides almost has the look of a stone carriage house, with several connecting sections sitting along the road. The stonework theme of the exterior continues inside –a function space called The Stone Room has beautiful stone walls and a cathedral ceiling, while another event space, The Blacksmith Room, used to be a blacksmith shop when the quarry was in operation.

The main room that is used for public dining (and can also be rented out for private events) is called The Quarry Room, a sprawling space with glorious views out back that includes a mix of booths and low-top tables. Beyond The Quarry Room is a cozy patio overlooking the quarry pond; during the warmer months, this is the place to be, with an appealing combination of shady trees, colorful flowers and serene water views. For those who prefer sitting in a lounge, there is a charming bar area by the entrance to the restaurant, complete with a fireplace and lots of nooks and crannies that add much character to the space.

Much of the town of Hingham has an old New England feel to it, and the regional fare and American classics with a focus on locally sourced ingredients on offer at The Quarry fit in quite well with this vibe.

Because they try to use local products whenever possible, the restaurant’s menu is ever-changing, so depending on when you go, you might find a creamy seafood chowder that gets a savory and smoky boost from bacon; a rotating list of house-made sausages that come with such items as greens, pickled onions and mustard; an earthy beet salad with pistachios and goat cheese that can be ordered with salmon, chicken or beef; aromatic truffle fries that come with just the right amount of salt; lobster and corn succotash, a good gluten-free option; a juicy half-pound burger stuffed into a fresh brioche bun that gets a slight tang from taleggio cheese; a classic slow-roasted chicken served with fingerling potatoes; fried calamari with a mix of rings and tentacles along with an aioli that has a slight kick to it; pillowy gnocchi with a wonderful slow-simmered bolognese; and, for dessert, various cakes, chocolate-based dishes and fresh-baked cookies.

Among this week's restaurant news, JJ's Coffee House and Roastery just opened, with some coffee roasted at the location.

The Quarry is perhaps more of a wine or cocktail spot than a place to grab a beer, though it certainly offers a number of excellent local brews as well (and the South Shore has become increasingly known for its great breweries). Still, the wine list is where the restaurant really shines, earning an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator several times. Among the options here are Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label champagne, MacRostie chardonnay, Château d'Esclans Whispering Angel rosé and, for red wine lovers, Château Saint-André Corbin Saint-Georges-Saint-Émilion. Cocktails are excellent at The Quarry, with a few faves being the slightly sweet Maple Old Fashioned, the citrusy Southern Gentlemen with bourbon and the “Mike-Tai,” which packs a bit of a punch.

You wouldn’t think a quarry would be a particularly romantic place, but with its elegant atmosphere, delicious (and nicely presented) food options and solid array of options for drinks, The Quarry Restaurant & Lounge is a perfect option for a date night. And yes, the quarry pond out back only adds to the intimate atmosphere, especially as the weather begins to warm up and the patio gets up and running.

The Quarry may not be the hottest spot on the South Shore, nor is it a household name especially outside of the southern suburbs of Boston, but it has quietly built up a terrific reputation over the past 10 years or so as a top-tier place to go to for a night out.

The Quarry Restaurant & Lounge, 415 Whiting Street, Hingham, MA, 02043.

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