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Sep 27, 2007 03:35 PM


Ok so last night my boyfriend and I decided to make the drive (aprox 45 min) to Newburyport, MA for a casual night at MICHAELS HARBORSIDE. I knew what to expect, as I have been before, however my boyfriend had not been before, and was excited to have some seafood. There was a wait to be seated outside, so we gladly accepted being seating inside immediately (7pm)
It was busy, as expected since the weather was about 85 degrees. We waited over 5 minutes but not ten minutes (maybe 8?) for a waitress to greet us. We ordered a martini and mojito, both very good although were not delivered in a timely fashion. We were given rolls and butter. We took our time ordering entrees however ordered steamed mussels as an appetizer right away. Mussels were good. In a butter sauce. Then we were ready for another drink and to order. By now it is about 730pm. My boyfriend ordered baked stuffed lobster, I ordered a seafood platter (fried). The waitress then told us they were out of lobster. So we had to re-decide our entrees. There wasnt much else my boyfreind wanted, except a lobster roll which they were out of and I already ordered an assortment of fried seafood that he could freely sample, so he ordered ribs.
Dinner took nearly an hour to be delivered. The waitress told us someone "took" our food mistakingly for another table, but it still took a while after we were informed this. When my boyfriend asked her what beers were on tap, she stumbled through a few choices, and told us we caught her off guard with the question.
He ordered an IPA with a lemon. I ordered a cosmopolitan. she brought the beer, but put the lemon on the wrong beer (she had another tables drinks as well) so he went without the lemon. My cosmo was horrible. It was full of lime juice and made me pucker with each sip.
Through all of this we remained light hearted. We are both in the service industry. We joked with eachother that we were lucky this wasnt a first date...
As we got our food, the ribs were edible and tasty. about 3/4 rack. with fries.
my seafood platter was poor. We visit many fried seafood joints including markeys and browns and expected better quality thatn these places. The clams were mushy and large. the scallops were not whole, they were pieces. the haddock was cut into one inch or smaller 'chunks'. The shrimp was split to be like a spiral. it was good. the onion rings were soggy, not crunchy. the fries were standard. not bad.
Then here is when it really goes SOUR.....
The power in newburyport goes out. everywhere. we joke it is romantic with the waitress that came to check on us. THen we see people running, and saying 'fire in the kitchen! everyone needs to get out!'
we grab our belongings and evacuate (10feet to outside)
many people are running to thier cars to 'chew and screw'. since we both are bartenders/servers we insist on standing outside and 'do the right thing' and overheard there was a fryerlator problem from the black out. (understandable.)
After a half hour of standing outside, a front of house server or bartender yelled "we are not re-oppening". and motioned us to leave. No apologies. no manager. nothing.
We understand things happen. We understand fires happen. so do blackouts. but we were shocked at the way management and staff delt with us.

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  1. Reminds me of another post involving a kitchen fire and a pregnant lady. At least they had the presence of mind to tell you to get out. Did they make you pay for your food?

    4 Replies
    1. re: whs

      At least you had the presence of mind to *get* out, unlike pregnantlady and her friend.
      MIchael's was a spot DH and I like to go simply because of the water view. Food was never terrific, and it's gone down hill in the ensuing years.

      1. re: whs

        they didnt make us pay for the food. we walked away after the staff was ushered back in by management, and the server said no one was allowed back in. It was just odd. it left not only my boyfriend and i with a strange feeling and experience, but we went to a local bar afterward, as did many diners from michaels.

        1. re: JennyGwiz

          I believe Michaels changed ownership a few years back. I think the food was better prior to the change, but I think it is more of a location destination these days.

          For good seafood in the Newburyport area, try Bob Lobster (better than Brown's or Marky's in my opinion).

          1. re: Pawsinhand

            I believe Michael sold the place in 2001. By that time he was pretty burnt out handling the place and the food was absolute swill. Maybe carrying the .357 every night to make the bank deposits was the problem. I can't remember the name of who bought it, but the tall thin guy with glasses started as a general manager I believe. The food improved vastly, but that was only good for about a year. By 2004 the food was ok, but going down the tubes. I believe they spent more time on renovations than they did concentrating on the food. That always kills a restaurant. A visually appealing place to eat doesn't always equal good food. It's a shame a place as interesting as Newburyport doesn;t have better restaurants.

      2. I don't know, doesn't sound like all that bad of an experience to got drinks & your meal for free! And for the most part, it sounds like your food was ok.
        No question though, management should have stepped up to the plate and kept everyone informed as to what was going on...sounds like there was lots of disarray and confusion....

        3 Replies
        1. re: twentyoystahs

          I was thinking the same thing. But they did have to wait aprox 8 minutes for the waitress to come to the table! Wow.. :)

          Many places serve the fish in chunks on a seafood platter. Also many prefer the larger "mushy" clams to the smaller ones. Interesting on the cutup scallops though? Are you sure they were not bay scallops as opposed to sea scallops?

          1. re: hargau

            The 8-minute wait for the waitress clearly was the least of the issues. I agree that the OP's post is hyperbolic, but it clearly was a bad experience at a bad restaurant. No reason to go back.

            1. re: Blumie

              your post confirms my recent bar-side obs at Michaels. After a day of fishing we recently watched mass confusion on the serving floor; fortunately the bar service is good and I am a big fan of their ribs, burger specials and mussels served at the bar. It helps to ask your server on a busy weekend or (indian summer work blow off day) if they are out of anything. If your server is not sure have him/her check with the kitchen. If you dine at peak times, this can save you lots of disappointment especially since its always the lobster that gets run-out 1st.

              What a wild story tho...Hey, you got off easy: Bad meal? No bill! Wish that were true everywhere.

        2. Sorry to hear of the fiasco. I grew up in Newburyport and Michael's used to be the place to go (25 years ago!). The food was always reliable if not mind blowing. I was in town from the Bay Area over the summer and we stopped ny for drinks on the deck. Service was slow but it was a beautiful day so we didn't mind. My mom still lives in Newburyport and happened to mention the power outage and Michael's specifically before I even read this thread. The local story is that the outage caused their sprinkler system to malfunction and thus the chaos. Look at the bright side..NO CHECK. Also, the restaurant can't really be held responsible for a power outage.

          1 Reply
          1. re: baseballfan

            I, too, grew up in Newburyport and never cared for Michael's Harborside. We used to think it was an overpriced tourist trap. It wasn't a bad place to go for lunch, but we would never go there for dinner.
            We always enjoyed Starboard Galley on Water Street

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. thanks for everyone's input. i completely understand power outages cannot be helped, and this is not what we were upset about. Anyway, stay away from michaels. I was having a drink at the rockfish the other night and heard a few other locals talk about thier bad experiences. there are plenty of other restaurants that are worth dining at.... such as AGAVE.... mmmm yum.

              4 Replies
              1. re: JennyGwiz

                Agave? ewwwww, cat food on a plate.

                1. re: ScubaSteve

                  This comment makes me laugh only because I am going to SHARK IT and use it to describe all of the restaurants that I hate (shout out to La Summa!) Although, a good chicken liver crostini might look a little bit like cat food on toast, but mmmm....

                2. re: JennyGwiz

                  "i completely understand power outages cannot be helped, and this is not what we were upset about"
                  So what *were* you upset about? That you stayed to "do the right thing" and pay your tab, but the staff waited a half hour to shoo you away saying they weren't reopening? If so, it was *your* decision to wait, so why be pissed at the restaurant management for not coming out earlier to say they weren't reopening?

                  1. re: JennyGwiz

                    Ugh! They were great when they first opened, then began a steady decline into mediocre. I stopped going there.