Brian Samuels

Matt Gaudet dishes out comfort food and classic tunes—on vinyl—in his Manchester-by-the-Sea neighborhood.

By Chris Hughes

When Chef Matt Gaudet opened West Bridge in 2012, the foodie aristocracy (Food & Wine, Bon Appetit) descended on Kendall Square to anoint the Cambridge, Massachusetts, restaurant as one of the best in the country. But before long, Gaudet says he began to secretly resent the four-star, French-by-way-of-New-England bulwark that had engulfed his life: the 90-hour workweeks, the relentless "cerebral challenge" of staying on the cutting edge, and, most of all, the impact it had on his family.

So after a lauded three-and-a-half-year tenure in Cambridge, Gaudet shocked the dining elite by shuttering West Bridge and embarking on an eight-month sabbatical to plan his next move. The result was even more surprising: Superfine, a laid-back neighborhood joint down the street from his home in tiny Manchester-by-the-Sea, featuring stacks of vinyl records, an area to play vintage Atari video games, and a selection of comfort foods like ribs and pizza.

The menu, Gaudet says, was designed with his fine-dining contemporaries in mind—the kinds of food they craved after a week of plating foie gras and caviar. Responsible, local sourcing would remain a priority, but it would come to the table in stripped-down dishes such as the pan-seared tuna-and-salmon fish burger beloved by his wife, Miranda, at home.

Even with Superfine's second location (in Marblehead) on the horizon, Gaudet says he's found the quality-of-life balance lacking in his former life. "The food, the atmosphere—it's lighthearted and fun. And that makes me happy."

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Meet Matt

Age: 46

Experience: Eleven Madison Park, Aquavit, and Jean-Georges (New York)

Food guilty pleasures: Malted milkshakes and Kit Kat bars

Neighborhood perks: "People bring us records all the time. Within a year, our collection has grown from 25 to well over 100."

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Mary Claire Britton

Make His Recipe

A slab of salmon does not make for a super fine burger. A sandwich maybe. But to achieve a burger-like texture, it’s all in the grind. Massachusetts chef, Matt Gaudet, pulses high-quality tuna and salmon with carrot and edamame, grills them into patties, and layers on crispy fried shallots and a zesty yuzu lemon mayo for a burger both decadent and comforting.