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non-chain dinner around Salem NH

t
tweetie Jan 27, 2009 01:06 PM

I know from the research I've been doing that this is a bit of a challenge but there must be an independent, casual, mid range restaurant with decent food somewhere within a 10 mile radius of this place! Help me find it (dare I hope, them?) please!

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  1. Infomaniac Jan 27, 2009 05:48 PM

    If Italian is an option, Trattoria Amalfi on Rte. 28 north side is a good choice.
    http://www.tamalfi.com/index.html
    For Middleastern food I would head to Shadi's Restaurant in Methuen, MA.
    http://www.shadisrestaurant.com

    1. l
      lexpatti Jan 28, 2009 05:48 AM

      Ralphie's is a nice family italian place, casual too - awesome meatballs like softball size. It's in Salem on Rt. 28 in a small stripmall. We've also done Phoenician on Rt. 28 for labenese food.

      3 Replies
      1. re: lexpatti
        tunamelt Feb 4, 2009 07:52 AM

        I'd avoid the Phoenician at all costs. I ate there a few times a year ago or so and had the distinct impression that while it might once have been worthwhile, it's coasting on fumes at this point.

        Also, while it passes itself off as Middle Eastern, such dishes occupy a relatively small sliver of the menu (and mostly among the appetizers). The entrees are largely steaks and chops. We were served cold pita that was obviously straight from a bag in the refrigerator, and with butter packets, no less ... which speaks volumes about its ethnic authenticity.

        Thai Chili at 473 South Broadway in Salem has excellent Thai food, but the strip-mall ambiance leaves much to be desired. It would be a good choice for takeout, though.

        1. re: tunamelt
          ScubaSteve Feb 9, 2009 01:30 PM

          i do like the Prime Rib at the Phoenician but agree that the place doesn't do much else very well. when they were located in Lawrence (then Bishops) they were Very Good.

          went to Thai Chili last week and aside from being the only people in the place we thought it was servicable at best. i think they were better when they were down 28 a bit, Chao Praya River.

        2. re: lexpatti
          s
          snl1129 Feb 11, 2009 06:14 AM

          I would second Ralphie's. The food is consistently good, although the pasta is sometimes overcooked at times. Otherwise good qualtiy.

        3. Rabbit Jan 29, 2009 06:22 AM

          I don't mean to sound negative, but the unadorned truth is that Salem, sadly, is a bit of a black hole for dining.

          I'd suggest:
          1. The Colosseum (www.colosseumrestaurant.com). Pastas are decent, the bar is an OK place to sit. Desserts are from Mike's (or is it Modern?) in the North End so they're tasty. Jazz on Tuesday and Wednesdays. It feels a bit bygone, but it's not too bad.

          2. The Blackwater Grill (www.theblackwatergrill.com) is a pretty room with a bit-of-everything menu and a very nice patio in the summer. Food is OK, not really much better than a chain but it feels less cookie-cutter.

          3. The new Boardroom is definitely the prettiest room in town and you can get an OK meal if you navigate the menu with some caution. Stay away from the "Italian" stuff (totally inauthentic and Olive Garden-y ick)... but grilled meats are very promising. (www.theboardroomnh.com). The bar is a nice place to hang out.

          Finally, if you're willing to travel a bit further (20 mile radius):

          1. Cassis Bistro in Andover has city charm (www.cassis-bistro.com) although it may be outside your idea of mid-range.

          2. And I think George's in Haverhill looks most promising, although we've yet to get there (www.georgesonwashington.com).

          Please do share if you find anything interesting!

          6 Replies
          1. re: Rabbit
            Rabbit Jan 31, 2009 06:59 AM

            We were at Blackwater two days ago and I have to rescind my recommendation. This place is under new management and the food has taken a turn for the terrible. It's a great place for a cocktail (lovely bar), but the food doesn't even rise to chain-restaurant mediocrity. Full report and pictures here:
            http://www.rabbitreporting.com/uncate...

            1. re: Rabbit
              l
              lexpatti Feb 1, 2009 05:54 AM

              I agree Rabbit, very dissappointed with Blackwater - I forget what it was before, but I enjoyed it better. We just recently did George's in Haverhill and loved it. Loved the ambiance, excellent service and my salmon was fantastic with a panchetta hash, hubby had weinner schnitzel that was excellent. His duck carpaccio as an app was not good though - very small morsels and overwhelmed with too much fruity accents (cranberry coulis). My escargot was out of this world with a star anise butter sauce. You should give it a try.

              1. re: lexpatti
                Rabbit Feb 1, 2009 07:19 AM

                Thanks for the review, lexpatti. We're excited about George's and now I'm even more eager to give it a go (my manicurist was also talking it up yesterday!!).

              2. re: Rabbit
                p
                purchaser1 Feb 3, 2009 06:34 PM

                Sad but true, the blackwater has gone a long way downhill from when Loafers was there. I was unaware that they changed management recently, but I guess that's besides the point. I really think you hit the nail on the head with "need to try harder"

              3. re: Rabbit
                s
                snl1129 Feb 11, 2009 06:16 AM

                LOVE George's in Haverhill. Although we haven't been to the new location yet, the food was excellent the last time we went in the fall.

                1. re: snl1129
                  ScubaSteve Feb 11, 2009 07:33 AM

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/580228

              4. p
                purchaser1 Jan 29, 2009 04:26 PM

                THere are a couple of options around. I second the Trattoria Amalfi reccomendation. I prefer the bar area, with the semi private booths along the walls. They make a good drink and the food is as close to authentic Italian as you will find in the area.

                The second place I will recommend is Brookstone Grille in Derry, just up the road from Salem. Great looking place with a nice bar, and also a pretty dining room. Good selection of food offerings, from raw oysters to pizza, great appetizers and some interesting entrees. Worth a look.

                The other place I will suggest if you can make it to Haverhill is Keons. May be too far from Salem, but good nonetheless.

                3 Replies
                1. re: purchaser1
                  Rabbit Jan 30, 2009 05:39 AM

                  Thanks for these suggestions purchaser1... Brookstone looks like it might be a good new option for us!

                  1. re: purchaser1
                    l
                    lar3ry Jan 30, 2009 06:53 AM

                    I second the nomination for both Trattoria Amallfi (great Italian) and Brookstone Grille (at the golf course just over the Salem-Derry line on 111).

                    Trattoria has one of the best Italian menus in Salem (and, for some reason, Salem has quite a few Italian restaurants). I like the seafood selections, but sometimes get the rib-eye special. Romantic setting, and since their renovation, there's a nice sized bar as well.

                    Brookstone has shrimp cocktail that are simply HUGE, a good raw bar, nice soups, a nice bar menu, and some great entrees in another romantic setting.

                    Either one would be great for Valentine's day, but you should make sure you make reservations beforehand!

                    1. re: lar3ry
                      p
                      purchaser1 Feb 3, 2009 06:37 PM

                      Side note on those shrimp: they are size 6/8 per pound and they poach them inhouse...

                  2. mcel215 Feb 2, 2009 03:13 AM

                    Josephs' Trattoria and Bakery is just over your 10 mile radius in Bradford/Haverhill Ma.

                    Just google for directions, the food is excellent!

                    1. l
                      lexpatti Feb 4, 2009 10:28 AM

                      For those that know Salem, what happened to the awesome little thai place that was in a house on the right going south on Broadway - beyond Christmas tree Shop further down maybe near Ralphie's - anyone know what I'm talking about, had to assume they moved, they were awesome.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: lexpatti
                        Infomaniac Feb 4, 2009 11:21 AM

                        I'm not sure what happened to the Thai place that was there, and I agree, the food was very good there. Ever since the mexican place closed many moons ago, nothing has been able to stay there that long.
                        My daught and I went to Ralphie's this past weekend.. She had the shrimp scampi and I had the cutlet with angel hair. We both enjoyed are meals and took home enough leftovers for two more meals.

                        1. re: lexpatti
                          Essex County Feb 8, 2009 02:12 PM

                          Was that Chao Praya River or something like that? If so, they opened a small place farther south, on the left if you're going south. It's just past a Ford dealer and across from a tatoo place...and just before KFC. It's called Thai Chili and it's good.

                          1. re: Essex County
                            ScubaSteve Feb 9, 2009 01:33 PM

                            EC, you're correct. see my post a bit up-thread.

                        2. d
                          drewinmrblhd Feb 6, 2009 01:08 PM

                          Take a short drive up to Hookset and go to Chantilly's. Food is very good and portions are huge. I love their baked haddock and the cucmber salad is fantastic. It is very affordable and waitress is divine.

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