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East Coast Grill

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Ate dinner last night at the East Coast Grill on Cambridge St. in Cambridge and was not impressed. The oysters were fresh and tasty. I had jumbo shrimp stuffed with cornbread & sausage; the shrimp tasted obviously frozen (my wife informs me that they probably were) and the stuffing lacked much of a sausage taste. The jalepeno BBQ sause that accompanied it was good though. Wife was unimpressed by her bluefish. Dessert was a "jamaican banana split" which was okay but nothing special; no "caramel-rum" taste to speak of, despite the dish's description. All in all a mediocre meal which would have tasted better at half the $100 we ended up paying for it. This is especially sad because I ate there about two years ago and had a vastly superior meal.

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  1. Went to "Hell Night" a couple of weeks ago, and found it entertaining. It's the only reason I go to East Coast Grill anymore. (Sorry, Chris...) Anyway the service was bizarre, as all the help were in costumes -- the devil, etc. -- and they were tremendously busy. We had a seat near the grill, so the air was filled with vaporized habanero peppers -- sort of like tear gas. The choking, gagging, and crying of the waitstaff while they served us through the haze was worth the price of the meal.

    The food was great for what it was. I had the goat barbeque, a five bomb plate (out of six), which had a numbingly hot mango salad on it. I awoke at 3 am with the sensation of a nuclear reaction deep in my bowels, and recovered completely after a couple of days -- probably contributed to by my having eated a couple of pickled habaneros and a couple of pickled serranos while waiting for the food to arrive. My 71 year old father, a refugee of the WTC destruction (he lives across the street in Battery Park City) stuck with the two bombers and avoided the pickled peppers, and survived nicely.

    About the price: I'm not sure how you spent a hundred buck for two, but I only give them my money on Hell Night.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Dr. Dog

      Somehow going thru all that pain to eat just doesn't seem worth it. Five out of six on their rating system? Yikes.

      And I have to agree that the ECG was a little disappointing. Hadn't been there in years and revisited almost 2 years ago now. A bunch of us got tuna and it was all overcooked. It was fine but it's a fair amount to spend (I don't think it'd take much to reach $100 with a couple drinks) and the noise level is crazy. Lots of other places I'd rather go.

      1. re: Joanie

        It wasn't pain, per se, but a weirdly warm, vibrating sensation, accompanied by perfuse sweating in the middle of the night. Besides, it's an accomplishment...

    2. Ya know, I hate to say this, because I've always considered the East Coast Grill one of my favorite restaurants, but over the last 2 years, my favorite signature dish of theirs has really gone downhill..I LIVE for the white-pepper crusted tuna, done black and blue...But what used to be a little filet-mignon, custom butchered cut of tuna has turned into an adequate tuna steak. And the black and blue; raw on the inside, charred on the outside, has become just an ordinary rare. It seems to me that the grilling just doesn't get the attention it used to. They used to keep one part of their grill WAY hot for that style of cooking, and the cutting edge is gone...It happened about the time the Back Eddy opened---I tried to order it there, sent it back because it was DONE all the way thru, and they tried again, but the grill just wan't hot enough...Believe me, I've tried many times! It's still a good meal, but it used to be a culinary bellweather!

      1. s

        Well, I am glad that someone brought this up. We are great ECG fans, and live right near by. We think it's a great restaurant, but have noticed some disturbing trends in recent months.

        First, they will do take out, although they don't advertise it much anymore. As new parents, we avail ourselves of LOTS of takeout. Last time we went to pick it up, however, we were met with serious attitude from the hostess staff, who got angry when we told them we had been waiting 20 minutes for our change, and told us that "we aren't set up for takeout." Then don't offer it! Waitstaff remained excellent the last time we ate in, but the hostesses need an attitude adjustment. We were distressed by the closing of Jake and Earls years ago, particularly since when signing the neighborhood petition to expand, we were told that takeout barbecue would continue to be available. Now we have to to Somerville or Arlington for 'que!

        The other thing that bothers us is that the specials seem to be the same for weeks on end. This strikes us as a decline in creativity/imagination, and we hope to see new and exciting dishes occasionally posted in the future, especially since Chris S's books continue to be so interesting.

        As for dessert, I agree that the banana split is not remarkable. But try the chocolate-grand marnier tart. MAN is that good! Toe-curlingly so. Made us positively swoon.

        1. Yes, I have to agree w/ all of you. On past visits everything I and my dining companions got at ECG was always wonderful. Last time I went, this past summer, the very nice wait person convinced me to order the bluefish saying theirs was not oily and if I'd had it that way before, it was not the flavor of the fish, but how it was prepared. Needless to say, I didn't like it at all -- due to its heavy/oily taste. I'd chalk this up to my just not liking the dish, but my husband's meal was no where near as good as he's remembered there in the past either.

          1. Have been recently and not found any problems- the food was as fantastic as usual, and the waitstaff was friendly and prompt. I'm planning on going again Wed. PM, so I'll post again after that, but now you all have me worried :)

            1. I'm Seth's wife (for those in the know, I work in the back of the house at another place in the area), and I just wanted to elaborate on what, exactly, I thought was wrong at EGC. I know exactly what it's like to get a sentimental attachment to a place (god, do I!), but going into this 1) blind, and 2) with a critical eye that some patrons might not have regarding ingredients, technique, etc., I am so very, very sad I disliked ECG.

              For starters, I do love bluefish--the fishy, oily taste, the meaty texture. The fish itself was okay--just past mid-well. It's the sides that bummed me--bad, crummy "almond pilaf" made with cheap parboiled rice (BAD final product, hard, tasteless--the epitome of insta-sixties food), and amateurishly seasoned. The broccoli rabe on the side was okay--cooked enough with some bite to it (and man, do I have issue with the 'al dente' school that's left us with woefully undercooked veggies!), but it was obviously a refugee side dish from the other random specials that night.

              All in all, the impression I got was that there's some "Lord of the Flies" thing going on there--line cooks with no sense of direction making up specials just because they were bored and sensed an opportunity. It happens.

              And yes, it's easy to run up a huge tab there with three courses (app, entree, dessert, drinks, tip). I don't know why we tipped the waiter so much--it was obvious he was thinking about the papers he had due, and that we seemed too 'downscale' for his joint. Especially when I ordered a Calavdos and he had to ask me what that was.

              Oh, bother.


              1. I've felt for years (at least since the renovation) that ECG, while good, is over-priced and over-rated. If they cut their prices by 10-20% I'd got there but if I'm going to spend that kind of money I'd rather go to the Blue Room which I think has consistently better food in a nicer atmosphere.

                1. Its really to bad the ECG has lost its touch. I wonder if Chris S. is reading any of this. Before ECG there was a nice rest. there that had great food at resonable prices. Anyone remember the name of that rest?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Inman

                    I think it was the Turtle Cafe, or something similar with the word Turtle. I have to add my voice to the disappointed chorus; I've been going to ECG since they opened and have always had great meals there, they catered my wedding two years ago and we still get compliments about the food, but the last two times we went there the food was lackluster and the service a bit lackadaisical. I think Chris has either stretched himself too thin or has just lost interest.

                  2. Went back last night, and I am happy to report that everything was fine. I had the BBQ plate (ribs, pulled pork, brisket). It was great as usual, and I think every bit as good or better than Redbones. The slice of watermelon was a bit soggy though, but it is out of season at this point. My date had the bluefish and raved about it. The service was friendly, complete, and we were not rushed to get up after our meal. I didn't have my usual gargantuan appetite, so I skipped dessert, and we didn't feel like wine. The two dinners came to $42 including a generous tip.
                    As for the portion sizes, they were ample although not abundant-- certainly plenty of food. I spent a good deal of time glancing at other people's plates, and everything else looked great, well prepared, and satisfying.
                    Frankly, I am a little suprised by all of the negativity among you Chowhound folks. Anyone else have anything positive to say about ECG?

                    1. as a first-timer for ecg, i have to say that my evening there last spring was disappointing. i had high expectations based on CS's spirited books that i have enjoyed so much. top-shelf margaritas were dull, entrees quite good and sides consistently lame (the not too good cornbread was also not too fresh). have been thinking about a return as i work in the area fairly often. the postings have not been encouraging. but will that stop me? no! will post after another attempt.