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Nine Elm American Bistro brings the unexpected to dining in Danvers.

Nine Elm American Bistro is a completely unexpected dining experience, with just 34 seats, unpretentious decor, expert service, and food that is extraordinary despite its simplicity and familiarity. And you should get over there now, before the rest of the world finds out about it and you can’t get a table.

Chef Matt Sanidas and his wife, Jean, have crafted a culinary jewel that is approachable, comfortable, and authentic. He is a master of various cooking techniques and knows just how to dial into your taste buds. Simple, fresh, and genuine is the mantra. “I try to get the freshest ingredients and cook them the best way that food can be cooked,” the Danvers native says.

First up was the seafood chowder, a fragrant fusion of fresh clam broth, mussels, salmon, potatoes, leeks, and cream. Each ingredient’s flavors are distinct; the salmon and mussels are tender, and the potatoes have just the right bite.

A salad of tender, sweet, and roasted golden beets served atop seasonal greens and sprinkled with Chinese five-spiced walnuts, Vermont-made goat cheese, and a perky balsamic vinaigrette was refreshing yet substantial.

The crispy tempura shrimp appetizer comes with house-made creamy chili sauce. Nicely balanced between sweet and tart, with just enough heat to light up your mouth, it works well with the lightly battered, flash-fried jumbo shrimp.

The superb mushroom-and-goat cheese tartlet appetizer is built of house-made pastry dough that is filled with cheese  and roasted mushrooms and finished with truffle oil. The entree of fresh, artisanal rigatoni is dressed with an intensely umami sauce of lamb, veal, pork, and San Marzano tomatoes, the legendary Italian sauce tomato renowned for its exquisite flavor and exorbitant (but worthwhile) cost.

The roasted all-natural chicken breast with mashed potatoes and herbed pan sauce, long a bistro staple, relies on excellent ingredients and flawless execution to succeed, which it does. The chicken is crisp on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. The potatoes are creamy and well seasoned. The sauce is luxurious and ample.

And then, just when we thought crème brulee was getting boring, along comes Nine Elm’s version, with its gently sweetened, silken custard and extra-thick crisp caramel top that shatters into crunchy candy.

Finally, the freshly baked profiteroles (cream puffs) with excellent coconut ice cream (from Richardson’s of Middleton) and dense chocolate sauce made us wonder whether we were really in Danvers, or perhaps Provence.

The Menu

Chef: Matt Sanidas. Soup/Salad: Seafood Chowder ($6), Golden Beet Salad ($8). Appetizers: Crispy Tempura Shrimp ($9), Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tartlet ($8). Entrees: Fresh Rigatoni with Ground Lamb, Veal, Pork & San Marzano Tomatoes ($18), Roasted All Natural Chicken Breast ($20). Desserts: Crème Brulee ($7), Profiteroles with Coconut Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce ($7). Location: 9 Elm Street, Danvers, 978-774-9436,

– By Anna and David Kasabian