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RED ROCK Bistro in Swampscott

  • b

going to the Red Rock Bistro next week, what's the menu like? I know they close after lunch and open for dinner, what time? Can you sit outside with a cocktail while you wait for it to open?

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  1. You will find a lot of comments about Red Rock on the board. Primarly be ready for attitude. This little restaurant that used to be a clam shack has some serious attitude that the owners tend to dish out on a regular basis.

    That being said, excellent view (one of the few waterfront dining experiences). Food is generally good and sometimes stellar.

    There are two outdoor patios. One has water views, one does not.

    Enjoy. Putting aside the attitude, and not ordering the clam strips which are excellent but measly for the price, we have enjoyed our dining at Red Rock.

    1. I cannot recommend Red Rock Bistro to anyone but if you're in the area, I've found that the nearby Hawthorne by the Sea offers a better experience.

      1. Red Rock is not the place to go if you want to be assured of a good meal. You might luck out but the odds are against it. Instead, be prepared for lackluster food, loud environment, cramped quarters, major attitude, high prices for value received.

        1. Second redbird's post. And must disagree big time with recommendation for Hawthorne by the Sea. Food is even more overpriced, generally mediocre and management's attitude puts even red Rock's to shame. Waitstaff leaves a lot to be desired, too.

          For more consistent, though certainly not outstanding, food, better prices and nice spot - deck on the water - Captain's Grill in Pickering Wharf is a better bet. Service can be iffy, but attitude isn't a problem.

          3 Replies
          1. re: JRL

            Or try Finn's in Salem. Not great food, but outdoor patio on the Harbor. Don't go to the Hawthorne. You will be truly disappointed.

            1. re: JRL

              Agreed with JRL on Red Rock Bistro and Hawthorne by the Sea. All one needs to know about the latter is that it's owned by the same folks as Anthony's Pier 4 and is a lot like it -- and AP4 is almost universally reviled on this board, with good reason.

              1. re: JRL

                Red Rock is a great spot to watch the sunset and the tide come in and out. There's no attitude there unless you bring attitude with you. Brunch is a very good take on the bar side when the band is playing.

              2. I live in Swampscott, and we eat out a lot. We've given up dinners at Red Rock. Not a good value, and service is *always* dismal. Lunch, however, is consistently good. They've got a seared tuna sandwich with a side of asian slaw that I'm addicted to. The burgers are great--big burger, good rolls, classic condiments. Eat outside for people- and seaside-watching.

                I agree that the *cafe* at Hawthorne can be quite good. The service always requires a little "encouragement." Burgers, calamari, other pub food choices are a notch up from pub.

                Finz is always good food in an energetic atmosphere. I've been dying to try their Macaroni & Cheese with Lobster. Haven't felt slim enough yet to afford the indulgence. The comment about nearby Captain's is right on: the food is very good, but the service is hit-or-miss.

                Good luck!


                1. They do make excellent fried whole fried clams... Anything else has been fine, not great.

                  1. Attitude, yeah. Food, sometimes great, sometimes 'just ok'. We sit/eat at the bar to be served by the best martini guy on the North Shore: Rick B. We've followed him around since the Red Raven in Salem...the only reason we go to Red Rock now.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: skippy14

                      I haven't experienced the attitude, but the food value is abysmal. Food quality overall okay, nothing great. The food on the night we went in last week took forever to come out. Fried clams appetizer was decent-- but given the portion size -- it might be more accurate to say fried clam (singular). :)

                      1. re: skippy14

                        Rick's Key Lime Pie Martinis are amazing! He is a good bartender!

                      2. i went to red rock bistro for the first time earlier this week. i sat at the bar. they had a one-dollar thing going on, which included one-dollar oysters. i ordered 6 oysters. not the best i've had, but for a buck apiece, not bad. the thing that stuck out in the whole experience was the attitude of the bartender. when i walked in (with my girlfriend) we told the hostess we would prefer to sit at the bar. the hostess, very nicely, told us we would be well taken care of. we weren't. it took forever to be served, and when i asked if the oysters were good, she treated me like some kind of a-hole for even asking. i've learned that it's good to ask servers questions; most of the time you get some canned response, but once in awhile you get an honest response and it can help you avoid a bad meal. so that's what i was doing, and i don't think it's that far out, especially when we're talking about one-dollar oysters. anyway, i got oysters and chowder. oysters ok, chowder was thin broth variety and very good. my girlfriend had a pasta dish that she liked, but left her hungry. i have to admit, it was spectacular to sit there at the bar and look out at the ocean with the boston skyline in the distance. so they've got that going for them. still, i can't really recommend it because of the attitude and the pall that left over the whole experience.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: shoofirbin

                          It's never a good sign for a restaurant when the best thing anyone has to say about it, even in a thread dating back two years, is "The view is great".

                          I only ever hear one thing about this place from my North Shore friends, which is that the owners are jerks and the service is pitiful. It's practically axiomatic on the Boston board that water views almost always mean mediocre food. Add hateful service to that and one can only conclude that dining options in Swampscott must be scant indeed for this place to remain in business all these years.

                        2. Please stay as far away as possible from this place. We (4) went on a Sunday aft. in Sept. Sat outside withocena view. Service was horrible and the food was no better. When I spoke with the mgmnt. I got some lame excuse with NO OFFER to assist in any way. This was the worst restaurant experience in my life.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: 4redsoxfan

                            I have to 2nd that emotion. Today my party of 7 had 12:30 reservations. While we were seated promptly it was downhill from there. While Drinks where served promptly, one came with hair in it. by 2:15 only 1 appetizer had been served.
                            Tables seated after us were served before us. French toast at next table was burnt. Waitress was ineffective, offered nothing to sooth situation. Spoke to two hosts and owner. After waiting 15 minutes for owner to come back we got up and left. After leaving met several people outside with similar experience.

                            1. re: GoodFood4U

                              I was also at Red Rock this past Sunday and the experience was so bad I felt like standing on the table and screaming at everyone to get out. The food was horrendous and the service pathetic. I'll normally sympathize with the waitress if it seems like it's exlusively the kitchen's fault,but this women was terrible and it seemed like the game plan is to totally ignore the guests while waiting (almost an hour) for the food to arrive. She did come over and tell us that our meals were "being plated right now" yet they came out tepid at best. How does this happen? Especially considering the food quality indicated that it had to have come out of a cafeteria line. The potato pncakes with my steak and eggs were raw. So raw they turned black because they oxidized. I'll choke down certain things i think are under done and chalk it up to being lightly cooked but raw potatoe are nasty. And if you're wondering I did not speak to management because I was so angry at that point that I had just wasted my entire Sunday afternoon as their hostage waiting for this swill that I just couldn't wait to get out of there. Even handing the waitress my credit card and telling her that we needed to "get out of here" didn't light a fire under her. It still took 15 minutes to get the card and the bill. It was like pulling teeth. Bad Bad Bad.

                              1. re: elmariachi

                                To be fair and balanced...
                                Yesterday Red Rock's owner called me and was appropriately apologetic. He said they had a horrific day that started with 2 key people in the kitchen being out and compounded by 50% more dinners than forecast for the day. He invited my party back so he could show us they know how to do things right. If you were there Sunday, you should call to speak to him.
                                Based on the sincerity of the call, I find it hard to believe the other negative feedback that has been posted about the red rock"s ownership.

                                1. re: GoodFood4U

                                  That's great that they called you and were honest about what happened. It shows that they are not clueless about the fact that it was a bad service. Based on that alone I'd give it another shot.

                                  1. re: GoodFood4U

                                    "I find it hard to believe the other negative feedback that has been posted about the red rock"s ownership."

                                    ... believe me, Red Rock is a total waste of time and money. I've tried it 3-4 times over the last several years and have come away angry at myself for being bamboozled into trying this poor excuse for a restaurant. And yes, the ownership is to blame. I've spoken to management, waitstaff, etc., and never once has anyone apologized for abysmal service and food. And no, I'm not a glutton for punishment. The last two times I went I was the losing vote for where to go out to dinner. Based on the numerous negative experiences posted on this board, my own experiences, and experiences of friends, this place has clearly earned its place in the Hall of Shame.

                                    1. re: Trixie Too

                                      Boy do I feel like a dope, we stopped and ate lunch at Lime Rickys which seems to be the outside beach food part of Red Rock Bistro. We had wondered about the place as it's usually mobbed when we drive by in the summer.

                                      OMG I was stunned! First by the high price $26 for the two of us, secondly by the poor food almost across the board!

                                      The fries are those starch covered crunchy things with a slight taste of clams. BLEEEECH ($3.25)

                                      Lemonade "fresh" Ya right, tasted like a no brand mix bought at Sams;. No way that's real fresh made lemonade. ($2.25)

                                      Chocolate Frappe - tasted a little odd, not sure why. Plus it was in a pretty small cup. ($4.95)

                                      Ham_n_cheese Panini - OK, but GREEEESY and the ham was questionable. ($5.95)

                                      Burger - In this case it was pretty good ($4.65)

                                      What a total ripoff and waste of money. The only thing I can think of why people continue to go there is the smell off the beach along Lynnway has killed all the brain cells. Stay away!

                                      1. re: dave_chis

                                        I hate to pile on but this is the type of place that deserves it.
                                        mediocre to bad food. The owners without question have an attitude like they are running Per Se. They think the place looks sophisticated inside but it really is just tacky. And the prices are way way out of whack for the area and the food they are serving. Its too bad because the view is amazing. I hope someday someone will take over the space and do the location justice..for me I avoid this place at all cost.

                                        1. re: jvish

                                          I can't help but enjoy a cocktail there, but eventually the attitude gets to us and we leave, but the view, o that view!

                                          I am very disappointed that they are in Marblehead at the beach.

                            2. Just my opinion...but I went with my husband about Mid-April and had a fantastic night. We sat right at the huge windows facing the water, the view is stunning, esp with the tide coming in. He made a reservation earlier that week and we were seated right away.
                              Our waitress could not have been nicer....very attentive, yet not too much, helpful, patient, very sweet.
                              The drinks were fantastic. I had a few pear martini's and the husband had a Manhattan, and it was made perfectly.
                              The food was also excellent. We split oysters, don't remember what kind, but again the waitress was very helpful...asked what size and flavors we preferred, etc. I had filet mignon spring rolls and a halibut special. He had a special app and dinner, which were fantastic. Dessert, we split a peanut butter/banana thing that was excellent.
                              I've been there other times and the clams and lobster pizza are great, as well as the brunch.
                              It's not cheap, I will agree with that, but on my last visit, it was worth it.

                              1. Save your money. I agree with the other posters who say Red Rock Bistro is overpriced. The food is VERY mediocre. I've been there a couple of times and the service doesn't stand out in my mind as either really good or really bad, but the food was nothing I'd go back for. And btw, if you happen to be on Lynn Shore Drive during a low tide, be prepared for some TERRIBLE fish odors...it would make your eyes water, thereby precluding a nice cocktail on the outdoor patio!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: lasershow

                                  That stink is actually the brown algae washing up on the sand. I actually heard a while back that there was some technology coming out of MIT that may allow them to "vacuum" the sand and redeposit it, minus the algae, back on the beach. Pricey of course but it would get rid of that smell! :)

                                  1. re: TomH

                                    Urban myth is that algae is a "rare" species.