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Gillies (W. Brattleboro, VT)

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This is a place that I've been hearing good things about for over a year now. My hairdresser loves it, so does my neighbor, but there are so many other places that we already love that we never quite made it over there.

The advertised an Old Fashioned Clam Bake for $25 on the 4th. The restaurant is within an easy walking distance of Memorial Park where a carnival was going all day and fireworks were scheduled at night, so I made reservations for the SO and me to have dinner there on the 4th.

It really was so awful and I'm hoping that some other people will come in and tell me that they've had wonderful food there and this was just a fluke or that my expectations of no sand in my clams was unrealistic. I'm really not a happy camper because dinner was $100 and it just wasn't any good.

The beers were fine, we had the Shucker's Ale. The clam bake came with steamed clams, mussels and a lobster (probably a 1 pounder). It also came with corn on the cob and a baked potato. The baked potato was fine. The corn was ice cold and hard. The lobster was perfect and the most enjoyable portion of my meal. The mussels were over cooked/steamed and chewy and salty (?). The clams were inedible due to a lot, visibly a lot, of sand all over the outside and inside. They also had this geoduck type of extension that was nothing but a tube of sand.

I asked the waitress if the clams were supposed to be so sandy, she said we were supposed to rinse them in this cup of opaque liquid first. But when I told her that the tube-y thing was full of sand, she said that some people eat them and some people don't. I’ve never heard of such a thing, for $25 per person they couldn’t rinse the clams before cooking them?

Needless to say, I was incredibly disappointed in the meal. The restaurant itself was very busy and our waitress was quite frazzled and running around. She also requested to take away our 3rd chair (we only had 3 at our table) for another table, which meant that I had to put my purse on the floor, and I just wish that she had asked for a table that actually had 4 chairs and two people to borrow theirs instead.

We decided to try it one more time on a non-holiday weekend to see if we have different results. But I will never order the clams again.

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  1. Bri, Have you eaten New England steamers before?

    3 Replies
    1. re: RI Swampyankee

      Evidently not. Is that they way they're served?

      1. re: Bri

        Any clams I've ever had have been well-cleaned. I mean, clams that I'd think were good. I'm fairly sure I've had steamers in Maine and I don't think I've ever had a lotta grit in them. :)

        1. re: Morganna

          Thank you for that feedback. I mean it just seems like a really basic part of the preparation.

    2. Yesterday was a big day of lots of running around, so we decided to end it at Gillie's for dinner. I have to say that last night's dinner didn't even compare to my previous review. It was fantastic and sublime and I can't believe it was even the same restaurant.

      We started off with an appetizer special of broiled pesto shrimp, which was really good. You can't go wrong with pesto in my opinion, but the really good part was that they weren't overcooked at all - they were succulent and tender and opaque and perfect.

      I was really in the mood for something along the lines of oysters rockefeller and the owner said "we'll make it for you!" She just checked with the chef to make sure she remembered what was in it and if he could make it and she charged me the same price as the clams casino - only $11 for half a dozen oysters rockefeller. They were so, SO good.

      Lastly, I had the cioppino which was chock fully of buttery swordfish, clams, shrimp, crawfish, etc., and it was so thick it was more like a stew than a soup. Bruno had the calamari and fries basket and the calamari was really tender and crunchy.

      Even better, the whole bill only came to $58 with those 4 dishes and 3 beers, pre-tip, because we ordered from the early bird specials menu.

      This dining experience completely turned around my attitude towards the food here. I'm probably going to stay away for the crazy holiday deals, but at least I can see now why so many people I know love this place!

      I will definitely be back...

      4 Replies
      1. re: Bri

        oh I'm so glad to hear this, and that you gave 'em a second chance :) Now if I'm ever in the area....

        1. re: Bri

          Bri, Thanks for posting the second review. I'm spending a fair amount of time in the Brattleboro area these days and I've wondered about Gillies. It's really hard to get a sense of the place from Rt. 9. The clambake signs outside seemed to suggest a blatant troll for turistas but on weeknights the place looked to have a local clientele.

          1. re: RI Swampyankee

            You've hit the nail on the head, I think.

            I'm still thinking about those oysters!

          2. re: Bri

            Thank you for following up with another visit and review b/c that can make all the difference...I've heard so many mixed reports on some of Brattleboro's restaurants; I'll put this one back on the list to try.