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East Coast Grill & Raw Bar: Not worth it.

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East Coast Grill for dinner last night was a disaster. I hadn't been to ECG in almost 3 years and stopped in with my better half on the way home from work last night . It was pretty much completely on a whim. We have been enjoying All-Star Sandwich Bar quite a bit lately but wanted to shake things up and do something that I imagined would be "a little nicer." I doubt that we will be returning.

On the good side of things, service was quite good. They were friendly, attentive, and willing to promptly correct small issues, including an over-billing mistake. And by "they," I mean everyone - from hostess, to the servers, to the busboys and everyone in between. Good people there.

Sadly the food was not on par with the service. The best thing I consumed was my bottle of Flying Dog Pale Ale.

The arugula salad that was bland and the bacon bits were burnt to the point of being inedible. For $8.50, it's fair to expect better.

Shrimp cocktail was an absolute train wreck, especially for a place that uses the words "Raw Bar" in its title. They were frozen in the center and somehow the texture had been rendered unspeakably horrid. Kind of pasty and rubbery. Wholly unappetizing and, again, pretty inedible. They were carelessly shelled as well, with surprise bits of the shell remaining here and there.

The "special catch" Portuguese style fisherman's stew was alright. The tilefish fillet was well prepared and flavorful. The sausage was tasty. But the broth was pretty bland and the potatoes were underdone and hard. The huge hunk of toast they served with it was somewhat unwieldy and not ideal for sopping up the broth. On the whole, it needed more seasoning, more punch.

Side of fries - ok, but way better a couple doors down at All-Star.

What really pushed us over the edge into "never coming back" territory is that prices are just outlandish. $9 for a glass of malbec that probably retails at $12-15/bottle. $28 for the soupy "stew." $8.50 for a starter-size arugula salad with goat cheese and burnt bacon. $3 per cocktail shrimp.... ugh. If the food had been good off the price wouldn't have stung as much. But for that money I can think of dozens of better places to eat in Cambridge/Somerville.

Customers are still paying for that 1996 Beard Award I guess.

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  1. Sounds disappointing. ECG should be a place where everything on the menu is good, but perhaps that no longer is the case. That said, there still are things on the menu -- mostly apps -- that are very good, and if you order with knowledge of this, you still can do quite well at ECG.

    1. Oh no. That's too bad. Also, I don't think Chris owns All-Star Sandwich anymore. Didn't he sell that awhile back?

      1 Reply
      1. re: PorkTerrine

        Yes, it's under differnet ownership

      2. Sounds pretty bad - did you talk to the staff about the shrimp in particular? That should have been remedied.

        The mark-up on the wine does not sound particularly high, to be honest.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bob Dobalina

          Didn't bring up the shrimp with the server. We only ordered a couple so we didn't think it was worth it (probably should have).

          It was a $7 glass of wine at most other places of that style. $2 more isn't killing anyone but it was just more evidence that they were soaking us for every penny they could get.

          At least that's the way it felt...

          1. re: wildrye

            Gotcha - makes sense.
            Sounds like the kind of thing that starts off a little bad and just sort of avalanches....

            I have always been a huge ECG fan, but I am afraid I have to start admitting that the bloom is off the rose on this place. Just too many negative reviews on several threads for my continued opinion of its exalted status. Sucks, too, because it should be the kind of place that simply and easily rocks it every night.

            Another example of an absent chef/owner letting a place go to seed? Any idea if he was there the night you were, or generally?

        2. My one time there i got a shrimp entree and it was like eating superballs wrapped in rubber bands... never again!

          1. I've long felt that the standard day-to-day stuff at ECG isn't worth the money being paid (not that I find it *bad*, just not worth the cost), but I really enjoy their brunch and generally dig their special events.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jgg13

              I would agree that, shrimp aside, it wasn't exactly *bad.* And perhaps it wasn't representative of what they do best. But the price really killed it. I have no problem shelling out for fantastic meals but this was like Sunset Grill & Tap quality execution on the food.

            2. I enjoy going early and eating at the bar, close to the oysters, so we can chat with both the guy opening oysters and the bartender, while they are still fresh and relaxed, and ordering from the appetizer menu--I don't know if you can order from the main menu. Re prices, everything has increased in price.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cassis

                Exactly.
                that's my M.O. for ECG (and a Lot of other places).

              2. I really, really, REALLY want to love East Coast Grill, but I don't. I was in recently and ordered #1 Tuna which was of fine/fresh quality, but the accompaniments were weird and discordant: green olives, blood oranges and crispy capers which were more burned than crispy. I couldn't finish it or my wet bone which was so tough I had to attack it with my steak knife. I always kick myself for not sticking to Black and Blue Tuna Tacos. Oh well... I have better luck at brunch, but I believe it's because of the self-help Bloody Mary's!

                1 Reply
                1. re: ChickenLittle

                  These postings make me so sad. I've never been disappointed there. But I haven't been in about a year.

                  You should write the the restaurant with your complaints. I'd hate to see this place disappear.

                  That restaurant the Chris Shlessingers cookbooks made me fall in love with food and made me a pretty good cook.