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Jan 18, 2008 01:50 PM

Restaurant recommendations in Salem?

Haven't been out recently on a Saturday night, but looking for recommendations for a dinner date. Grapevine? Lyceum? Finz? Anyone been to these places recently & enjoyed the food & experience?

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  1. I'm not certain when it will open (or maybe it has,) but I think 62 on Wharf looks promising:

    1. strega is really good.. its beautiful in there.. huge dark bar, beautiful textiles. i lunched at finz solo last spring and my food was just as great as the attention and service. the old spot on essex street also has a great upper scale pub menu (and live music on mondays i believe)

      2 Replies
      1. re: funkluvah

        you're right about the beauty of Strega's decor but way off with regards to the food...ditto for Finz. Strega serves tired uninspired food right off the Sysco truck with no attempt at making it palatable and Finz is just bad. I want to like these places because they're local but they make it tough. I can usually force myself to eat anything even though I think I'm a foodie because sometimes it's just about survival, but the crabcake sandwich at Finz was horid. 1 bite and I was done. Thankfully the bartender was kind enough to take it off the bill without much fuss.

        1. re: elmariachi

          Bangkok Paradise is very good, up there with any Boston-ares Thai place plus the sushi bar is worth a try. Its on Washington St next to the smoke shop. Agree with others that both Finz and Strega are below par and worse.

          I have been generally disappointed with the higher-end offerings in Salem and usually stick to the basics like Reds, Brothers, etc.

      2. The Finz bar is usually hoppin but I've been disapointed with the food. I've been a couple of times to the Lyceum recently and I liked the food, but service is kinda slow and it's expensive.

        Cafe Gulu Gulu is nice, interesting stuff in a hip atmosphere service can be poor though.

        I'd skip considering Rockafellars completely, food and service is poor.

        Bella Verona has always been good and it's an intimate space then I'd boogie to cafe jalo for some coffee/tea afterewards.

        For a casual date, I'd do engine house pizza then Lyceum for hot fudge sundaes, or perhaps Witches brew for steak or chicken parm Jerry style, then on to finz for the bar sceene.

        1. Finz cannot be completely written off - the food is delicious. The problem is that the execution is often off. It is really too bad - the menu items are excellent, the ingredients are very good. It almost seems like a very talented executive chef designs the menu and the recipes as well as orders the ingredients, and then the B team comes in and screws up the execution. I have had some of my favorite meals there (not to mention my wedding and the food was OUT OF THIS WORLD - the A team was on that day). BTW this is all conjecture - I cannot explain what causes the huge cooking mistakes (e.g., clumps of unincorporated roux in the chowder) but I do know that when it comes out right, it is very good. So I continue to take the risk and when something is wrong, - I ask them to fix it. The view is surely worth it, and the ambience is nice. The food is great when it is right.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Small Plates

            I just ate at Finz (at the bar) on Saturday afternoon at lunch for the first time, and really enjoyed it!

            I had their Vanilla Bean Salad and the Walnut-Dusted Scallops "starter" - perfect for lunch - and both were excellent! Loved the slightly sweet/tangy vanilla bean vinaigrette over the peppery arugula. And the scallops were perfectly done, and paired nicely with the 3 pumpkin raviolis and sage cream sauce. My friend had the poached pear salad (my salad was better) and she got the special starter of fried clams. I made sure they were bellies before she ordered them, and while I'm not usually a fan of fried clams, these were incredibly good! (I had 3 <g>).

            Good wine list as well. Good service from Stephanie, the bartendress. Definitely a place I'd go back to if I was in the area. I liked the atmosphere throughout the place.

          2. I haven't been for a while, but I've never had a bad meal at Grapevine, and I love the atmosphere there--very warm and welcoming.