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Dec 4, 2006 01:53 PM

Horrible Hilltop dinner report.

I know I know, what am I thinking?

Let me start by saying that I had NO say in going to the Saugus Hilltop "steakhouse" last Friday night. The last time I ate there was around 1984 when I had no $ and knowledge of good cuisine.

Four ex-co-worker friends and I get together from time to time just to keep in touch so one of the guys thought that the Hilltop would be convenient and cheap enough for all. The food was absolutely horrible...not a big surprise really. The group ordered pub type apps...onion rings and some combination of potato skins, buffalo tenders and mozz. sticks. No of which was edible for me but the guys wolfed them down. For main course, I wanted to play it safe so I figured their "signature" steak (bone out ribeye) with the house seasoning (cajun?) and mashed potatoes would be ok all things considered. Sad to say it wasn't. Haven't had a more grizzled, fatty, ugly looking, bland piece of beef in a very long time. I could only have about 7 bites before giving up. The mashed potatoes were lukewarm and very bland...managed to eat about half as I was starving. One of the others steak tips were so inedible that he gave up (and he usually eats anything) Anyway, the guys wanted more punishment so we ordered some desserts. Bad idea all around except one of the guys liked their rice-cake type pudding. Go figure. The only aspects of the experience that were ok were the beer and the waitress. She was very nice and friendly...we left a good tip for her.

Suffice to say, I won't be going back until I turn 80 (for the early bird special) and won't care about anything but price and taking my senility medicine.

Stay away from this place.

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  1. Well, believe it or not, it could have been worse. I got dragged to the Braintree location a few years ago, and it was everything you described, on top of which the place was filthy: it looked like it hadn't seen a vacuum in weeks. Just revolting.

    1. You're so right. All these great restaurants like Umbra, New Taste of Asia, and Buteco are gone (or soon will be) and yet the Hilltops of the world keep on going (well, the one in Saugus, anyway--the Braintree one is closing, if it hasn't already).

      4 Replies
        1. re: hiddenboston

          It hasn't closed yet. We stopped by there for lunch a month or so ago. We were the only people in the entire place. Scary. The food was nothing to write home about, but then again it never was.

          Heh, I just remembered how much my relatives loved the Saugus location. They weren't chowhounds by any stretch of the imagination, which is OK. The point was they liked it. That's all that mattered.

          1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

            Interesting that you mention the "The point was they liked it". I'm usually of the same mindset when it comes to restaurants (especially when the dialogue involves "authentic" food)...I like what tastes good and that's pretty much it whether it's "authentic" or not. I also think that people only know what's in their frame of reference eg. if you only eat at Hilltop and think it's ok, you're happy. Once you start experimenting with other places but similar cuisine you start to realize what you've been missing and/or how bad you had it. This website helps to englighten.

            1. re: Sal Monella

              I agree with you wholeheartedly *grin* And I'm not one to push the "enlightenment" angle unless it's asked for or insinuated in some way. If somebody, for instance, thinks Great Big Corporate Chain Restaurant is the greatest thing on earth, that's OK, although I'll probably cringe on the inside.

        2. Suffice it to say, there's a reason Chowhound is a niche community. Unfortunately, most Americans still prefer a meal at TGI Friday's than at places like those we love so dearly.


          2 Replies
          1. re: BJK

            My NY office is in Times Square: I just cringe when I come out of my office at night and see the lines for Olive Garden and TGIF. In NYC, for crying out loud! And my Boston apartment is near Park Square, where I can observe the out-the-door lines at Maggiano's and Legal's every night of the week. (I'm not a Legal's hater like some on this board, but I would never wait in that line for one of their meals.)

            1. re: BJK

              Oh, AMEN. I listed Hilltop on another board as "Where You've Never Gotten a Good Meal". My DH is a North Shore kid and for him, the Hilltop is still the name upon whose mention all knees must bend in respect. That was THE steakhouse for folks who lived along Rte 1. For me, coming from the NH border, we also got our prime rib on Rte 1 but Rte 1 Hampton, the Galley Hatch. Anyway Hilltop-- He loves it, still goes there with bros, etc. Last time I was there it was for a mercy meal for MIL. It was appalling. I will say, the drinks were well mixed but everything else was awful. Soup dreadfully, dreadfully salty and slopped over the cum rim into the saucer. Fatty, cool beef. Cooked to the point of saying "ouch" vegs. And occasionally at the end of a rather....congealed???....meal, a good cup of scalding hot black coffee will wash everything down and make you feel human. I couldn't even get that. Lukewarm and pale coffee. Sigh. I'm sorry, Sal M.

            2. I have not been there in years. Used to get dragged there alot as a youngster. Id always get the Lobster Pie which was actually decent, however i just looked at their website and noticed they dont even offer it anymore!

              1. gr8. i gotta attend a function there 2nyt. ARRRRRGH!

                9 Replies
                1. re: ScubaSteve

                  Sorry Scuba...stick to the beer and perhaps fries...or eat somewhere else beforehand.

                  1. re: Sal Monella

                    thanks Sal. but itz a political fundraiser and itz already paid 4. i'll just grin & beer it.

                    1. re: ScubaSteve

                      Good luck. Let us know how you make out...

                  2. re: ScubaSteve

                    As someone who has been dragged there on many an occasion, simply embrace the fact that it will be comfort food instead of fine dining and you'll be fine. Get the prime rib (ask for horseradish sauce and to make sure it comes out hot)which is very hard to screw up, or the marinated steak tips (usually ok). The other route is to order the Filet Mignon, which is not expertly prepared or aged, but at under $25 for a huge cut, it will be the cheapest Filet Mignon you've ever had and if you order it done rear, they should manage not to kill it and allow you to avoid the whole fatty, gristly issue.

                    1. re: InmanSQ Girl

                      no ordering. we were given a choice of chicken or beef. Lord help me.

                      1. re: ScubaSteve

                        Oh man! I recall the bread rolls were passable...with enough butter. Hanging or lethal injection?

                    2. re: ScubaSteve

                      Hey ScubaSteve. Did you make it out alive? Give us the down and dirty from your night at the Hilltop.

                      1. re: Sal Monella

                        oh my. all @ my table had the 'beef' option (others being chicken or fish, neither of which i tried) and although the portion of filet was generous and cooked to an attractive medium rare the beef did have a pronounced liver flavor and i saw several big eaters that left their's unfinished. sides were a roasted potato that was a little leathery and a mixed veg right outta the bag. we started with a smallish ceaser salad that they had stacked one on top of the other so if you got one from the bottom, the lettuce, while it may of been fresh to start, was really squished. and to finish there was vanilla ice cream (brighams'?) with strawbeery sauce, with little or no actual strawberry. the upstairs bar was closed and we only had a small function bar so i cannot weigh in on the bartending. needless to say the room cleared out pretty quickly as the last plates were being cleared.

                        1. re: ScubaSteve

                          Pretty much along the lines of what was already discussed.

                          At least you lived to tell about it.