The history of Salem, Mass., is long and captivating, an aspect of the North Shore town that Ledger Restaurant & Bar has celebrated since chef-owner Matt O’Neill opened it in 2017. Set in the circa-1818 Savings of Salem Bank building, the restaurant boasts the brick details, ornate ceilings and bank teller’s window of yesteryear, along with more contemporary industrial touches. Even the restaurant’s name calls back to the location’s storied, fiscal history. But these aren’t Ledger’s only links to the past.
Using a wood-fired, cast-iron grill, executive chef Daniel Gursha honors New England’s culinary traditions, offering 19th-century plates “elevated with 21st-century resources.” The farm-to-table menu includes oysters, of course, along with other regional classics, such as popovers with beef drippings, pan-roasted cod, smoked Long Island duck breast and caramel-apple sticky toffee pudding.
Wine director Scott Lefler and general manager–sommelier Kelsey Tenore head up the 315-label wine list, which earned its first Award of Excellence in 2022. The list is packed with French and Italian bottles, from Champagnes and Burgundies to Barolos and Tuscan reds, in addition to picks from Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, California, Argentina, South Africa and Australia. Lefler and Tenore also encourage guests to try wines from regions farther off the beaten path, such as Slovenia and Switzerland. Diners will find rare treasures throughout the list, including Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Private Reserve 1985 and Giuseppe Mascarello & Figlio Barolo Monprivato 1999. Noteworthy half-bottle, large-format, dessert wine and cocktail selections are available as well.
Dedicated to sharing their passion for wine, Lefler and Tenore offer a daily “baller pour,” a special by-the-glass option chosen from the restaurant’s 1,300-bottle cellar. (Bottles are kept behind a vintage Salem Savings Bank vault door). To spur exploration, they also curate seasonal groupings on the list (such as summer’s “Coastal Crushes,” highlighting ocean-influenced vineyard sites), and Lefler hosts a monthly Wine Tasting Wednesday event.
Ledger is open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner, with outdoor dining options. Guests can enjoy a brunch menu on Sundays.
—Edited by Emma Grant