June's Can't-Miss Dish

By Ellen Bhang · 06/01/2021

Looking for a no-fail, mouthwatering, gonna-tell-your-friends-about-it plate? Each month, Boston Globe columnist Ellen Bhang highlights the dish you need to try right now—and something to sip alongside it.

On the plate: Nightshade Lobster Roll  

Where to find it: While working in restaurant kitchens like Bondir and Clio, chef Rachel Miller had plenty of lightbulb moments. Now with her own spot, Nightshade Noodle Bar in downtown Lynn, she talks about her latest revelation. It happened while preparing a takeout order of fried clams, a wildly popular item she added to the menu during the pandemic.

“I was like, ‘Well, I guess it’s just Nightshade Clam Shack now,’” Miller says. “But then I was like, wait a second—I’m in love with this! I love making this, I love eating this, and people love it, because they keep buying it.”

Brainstorming how she might infuse classic summertime fare with the Vietnamese-inspired flavors she set out to serve at her restaurant, such as Viet-Cajun Seafood boils, garlicky Homemade Egg Noodles, and Bone Marrow Fried Rice, Miller devised a new menu of splendidly fried seafood. (Nightshade is just a mile from the beach, after all.) 

Shrimp, scallops, soft-shell crab, and of course, clams, are tucked into wax paper-lined boxes with accompaniments like shrimp chips, shredded cabbage salad, and spicy tamarind dipping sauce. 

Order at the window, then take it on a picnic or settle onto the restaurant’s curb-adjacent patio, attractively outfitted with planters and strings of white lights. (Indoor dining will return at a later date.) Miller loves the new concept so much she rebranded her entire operation for the summer. Naturally, she’s calling it Nightshade Clam Shack. 

Notes on the nosh: One of the restaurant’s reimagined beach snacks is the Nightshade Lobster Roll. Knowing that New Englanders hold strong opinions about whether the crustacean meat should be tossed in mayonnaise or drizzled with butter, Miller’s decision to combine the two is a bold move. She whips an eggy aioli together with European butter and seasons it with lemongrass. The herbaceous, fragrant sauce—rich but not heavy—makes the warm lobster taste extra luxurious, especially when heaped into a split-top brioche roll. Miller describes those burnished buns—baked in-house daily by a duo of pastry chefs—as “moist, cushy, and perfect.” We couldn’t agree more. 

Sip alongside: Nightshade offers one of the nicest selections of bubbly natural wine on the North Shore. With up to a half-dozen styles on the list, you can choose from a lovely array of bottles, like a fizzy Austrian rosé, a cloudy pét-nat from Maine, or a bottle of premier cru Champagne—any and all of which will add sparkle to your clam shack feast.

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