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What to avoid in Rockport/Gloucester Area?

lunabug Aug 3, 2009 09:47 AM

Hi - we'll be spending a weekend in Rockport towards the end of the month and it will be the first time I've been back there in 20+ years. I've pulled tons of good suggestions from the board but thought it might be easier to know if there's any place in particular we should avoid. We'll be looking for seafood, good hot dogs, good breakfasts, fun sandwiches, etc... and maybe one nicer dinner. Heard mixed things about My Place By the Sea - can anyone corroborate?

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  1. f
    FoonFan RE: lunabug Aug 3, 2009 10:27 AM

    In general, I would avoid Rockport. Very touristy and devoid of interesting food. My Place By the Sea not bad, but nothing special. Gloucester is much more of a real place, with a nice art scene, but also a working waterfront and a downtown shopping area with funky charm that has a mix of local shopping and arts and crafts type shopping. Lots of good casual and fine dining options.

    1. mtm7654 RE: lunabug Aug 3, 2009 10:37 AM

      Went to the Lobster Pool this weekend and it was only meh. The fried clams were good but the fried shrimp and the onion rings had a lousy, doughy, bland batter. Have had good meals at the Roy Moore restaurant and others like the Roy Moore fish market that also sells prepared food to go.

      1. almansa RE: lunabug Aug 3, 2009 12:25 PM

        From my experience last evening I would suggest that you avoid Latitude 43.

        1 Reply
        1. re: almansa
          treb RE: almansa Aug 8, 2009 06:52 AM

          2nd that, meh chow and total robbery.

        2. n
          nomadgirl RE: lunabug Aug 7, 2009 09:43 PM

          I've heard great things about Duckworth's in Gloucester, but haven't been there myself. I do like the Gloucester House -- very old school New England food. Nothing inventive/creative, but good boiled, broiled, fried seafood.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nomadgirl
            bgavin RE: nomadgirl Aug 14, 2009 11:30 AM

            Second Duckworth's.
            Get a reservation! The place is very small.

          2. t
            treb RE: lunabug Aug 8, 2009 06:55 AM

            Been to MP many times, great views, small menu using fresh ingredients and local when possible and excellent flavors. The wine selection could use a upgrade and sometimes the wait staff can be a bit slow but, for me that's OK I'll soak up the view.

            1. b
              bcliff RE: lunabug Aug 14, 2009 11:19 AM

              Duckworth's Bistro is great.
              Japapeno's for very good Mexican
              Seaport Grille for good food, good bar, view of working waterfront
              Causeway Restaurant for home cooking, cheap, huge portions
              Farnhams or Essex Seafood for fried clams, etc.

              1. bgavin RE: lunabug Aug 14, 2009 11:29 AM

                Avoid the Grand Cafe at the Emerson Inn. Mediocre food.

                My Place - only takes reservations the day of, at noon, phone or in person. Amateurish service and over ambitious menu. Poor price/quality ratio.

                1. t
                  tastest RE: lunabug Jul 15, 2010 02:35 PM

                  Would anyone like to update this post for 2010 as we are planning to stay in the area soon. Knowing what to avoid this year would help alot.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: tastest
                    sinned61 RE: tastest Jul 15, 2010 03:02 PM

                    Well based on an experience last Thursday, AT ALL COSTS AVOID The Causeway. The worst excuse for Fried Seafood in memory. The Fried Clams were dreadful. The worst I've ever had. Wife and son had combos of Fried Clams/Fried Shrimp and Fried Fish. Daughter had Fried Fish and Chips. Unanimously awful in every way. I was SO disappointed $92.00 plus tip (wasn't the waitress' fault) later!

                    NEVER AGAIN!

                    1. re: tastest
                      Karl S RE: tastest Jul 16, 2010 04:59 PM

                      The real food is in Gloucester and, in a different way, the road between Gloucester and Newburyport, aka Clam Shack Nirvana (the apex of which for most Hounds is the Clam Box in Ipswich for big bellied fried clams - but unless you get there when they open for lunch, bring a large serving of patience with you). Focusing on Rockport for food in this region is like focusing on South Street Seaport for the best eats in the lower half of Manhattan.

                      Btw, don't repeat the omission of almost all tourists to Rockport - don't just see the port itself, but take the drive along Route 127 along the northern side of Cape Ann between Rockport and Gloucester. It's less travelled and more characteristic of what is lovely. If you're a bit more adventurous, go explore Dogtown (bring bug repellent):


                      1. re: tastest
                        resipsaloquitor RE: tastest Jul 19, 2010 01:22 PM

                        We eat at the Lobster Pool once a week and the food is always excellent. Great value, great view. Nothing else really comes close for the price.

                        Lobster Pool
                        329 Granite St, Rockport, MA 01966

                      2. j
                        jjbourgeois RE: lunabug Jul 15, 2010 06:56 PM

                        I love visiting Rockport, but I never eat there. Really the only thing the spouse and I have, and only in the fall, is stopping at Helmuts strudel. A crisp October morning, piece of strudel, cup of coffee and sitting on Bear's Neck. Good way to start a fall day.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: jjbourgeois
                          lergnom RE: jjbourgeois Jul 15, 2010 08:05 PM

                          That strudel is fantastic. Get a whole one to go. I like the apple.

                          1. re: lergnom
                            jjbourgeois RE: lergnom Jul 16, 2010 05:28 AM

                            The apple is great! But eating a whole one, got watch my calories and save room for other goodies.

                            1. re: jjbourgeois
                              bear RE: jjbourgeois Jul 16, 2010 04:15 PM

                              My husband and I each get a piece of cherry, and then share a cheese. Really good. Now, if we could just get a good cup of coffee on Bearskin Neck...

                        2. n
                          nlg RE: lunabug Jul 16, 2010 07:12 AM

                          I like My Place By the Sea, but you are indeed paying for the spectacular view. Reservation system is a pain for dinner. We go for lunch (less expensive and same great view).
                          I am not a big fan of Brackett's Oceanview Restaurant. Traditional, basic New England fare. Expensive for what you get and a place where your in-laws want to go for their 61st wedding anniversary (which is why we went there last month).
                          We've enjoyed Alchemy in Gloucester, but it's not (obviously) in Rockport!

                          1. drewinmrblhd RE: lunabug Jul 16, 2010 01:26 PM

                            Brackets in Rockport is good in my opinion. Fantastic view. Try the Schrod burger, fresh and delicious piece of fish. The mushroom appetizer was also very good. Friendly service, very professional, no rushing you out the door. Avoid the Burrito place in the art colony, really bad Tex Mex.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: drewinmrblhd
                              lergnom RE: drewinmrblhd Jul 16, 2010 07:14 PM

                              Brackett's is kind of funny; the menu looks like something from 1964 with the addition of a fish taco. They serve everything on individual plates, each sized to that portion - like an oblong for beans. They present a piece of fish and other mains alone on a plate with an inedibly piece of kale as decoration. The food is actually pretty good but blue hair.

                            2. k
                              kamac RE: lunabug Jul 20, 2010 02:30 PM

                              My Place by the Sea is thoroughly mediocre, somewhat reminiscent of chain food. I am guessing people go strictly for the view. Not a good enough reason for me.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: kamac
                                tastest RE: kamac Jul 21, 2010 06:14 AM

                                Thanks everyone for the 2010 update. We are in the Cape Ann area for a week so will have lots of chances to try your recommendations.

                                1. re: tastest
                                  mtm7654 RE: tastest Jul 21, 2010 09:13 AM

                                  Ditto the Clam Box and Essex Seafood-very fresh and tasty. For a tad more upscale, try The Village Restaurant in Ipswich. Kind of old school but good value.

                                  Clam Box
                                  789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

                                  1. re: mtm7654
                                    ipsofatso RE: mtm7654 Jul 27, 2010 07:23 PM

                                    The Village is in Essex.

                                  2. re: tastest
                                    bgavin RE: tastest Jul 22, 2010 11:15 AM

                                    Find The Market at Lobster Cove in the Annisquam neighborhood of Gloucester.
                                    Local woman learned to cook at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, met a man who also cooked there and they are in Gloucester for the summer putting out amazing meals every night but Wednesday.

                                    1. re: bgavin
                                      Lgalen RE: bgavin Jul 23, 2010 05:55 AM

                                      We had a very disappointing (and VERY overpriced) breakfast there on Father's Day. This was not long after they opened. Glad to hear that dinner is good. They may be overly ambitious being open for 3 meals a day.

                                  3. re: kamac
                                    resipsaloquitor RE: kamac Jul 22, 2010 12:23 PM


                                  4. Boston_Otter RE: lunabug Jul 21, 2010 10:54 AM

                                    Roy Moore's Fish Shack is just okay. I prefer the tiny 'shack' a block away on Bearskin Neck for fresh seafood.

                                    For awesome breakfasts, I love Lee's.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Boston_Otter
                                      LStaff RE: Boston_Otter Jul 23, 2010 07:54 AM

                                      So you prefer Roy Moore's over Roy Moore's? ;-)

                                      1. re: LStaff
                                        Boston_Otter RE: LStaff Jul 23, 2010 11:13 AM

                                        Exactly :) His little shack is unpretentious and simple, the seafood fresh and delicious. It feels like the quintessential New England seafood experience.

                                        The seafood at the sit-down restaurant a block away? Eh.

                                    2. seefood RE: lunabug Jul 22, 2010 10:20 AM

                                      Sometime during your week there, you really should drive over to Ipswich and hit the Clambox. It is true that sometimes you have to wait a while, but sometimes not. It's worth it. I've eaten fried clams all up and down the New England coast, and these are the best.

                                      While you're in the area, a nice side trip is to drive out to the Crane Estate. Stop at nearby Russell Orchards, and maybe hit Crane Beach. This would make a worthwhile and fun day trip from Rockport.

                                      Russell Orchards
                                      143 Argilla Rd, Ipswich, MA 01938

                                      Ipswich, Ipswich, MA

                                      1. ipsofatso RE: lunabug Jul 22, 2010 03:35 PM

                                        Sugar Magnolias is great for a breakfast that will kill lunch. Duckworths - in a word, GO!
                                        Avoid the Causeway and instead try the Blue Marlin in Essex for purely middlebrow seafood in a pubby atmosphere. in GLO Go to Virgilios bakery and get the Sou'Wester sandwich for lunch (not the day you chow at Sugar Mags) & make sure they load it up with that olive salad.

                                        Sugar Magnolias
                                        112 Main St, Gloucester, MA 01930

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: ipsofatso
                                          treb RE: ipsofatso Jul 23, 2010 05:36 AM

                                          Yah, can't beat Sugar Mag's, go there every week. Huge and tasty breakfasts. Haven't been to Causeway in a while but, have not been hearing good things, what's going on?

                                          1. re: treb
                                            sinned61 RE: treb Jul 23, 2010 09:45 AM

                                            Not sure about The Causeway. We had a horrible experience there recently. We had lunch there about 5 years ago and as I recall it was great. We went there a couple of weeks ago and everything was simply AWFUL. I swear the clams were not local and possibly from Maryland. They looked different than any clams I've had. The bellies were nasty. Other items were very greasy and tasteless. I was and still am VERY disappointed. Any others have this experience there recently? Back to J.T. Farnhams for me....a place we can RELY on time after time.

                                            1. re: sinned61
                                              treb RE: sinned61 Jul 23, 2010 02:11 PM

                                              Only place I'll go for clams, Clam Box, and onion rings.

                                              1. re: treb
                                                sinned61 RE: treb Jul 23, 2010 06:07 PM

                                                Treb, I feel the same way about Farnhams...the Causeway made my decision. Have gone to the Clam Box in Ipswich, liked it, but didn't LOVE it.....LOVE Farnhams EVERY TIME!

                                        2. almansa RE: lunabug Jul 24, 2010 06:31 AM

                                          I can't speak from personal experience, but I have a friend who sells excellent seafood wholesale, and he just recommended Lobsta Land to me. He said he was shocked that it was as good as it was - passed it a million times and never considered going in.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: almansa
                                            ipsofatso RE: almansa Jul 24, 2010 03:24 PM

                                            Yes, LOBSTA LAND does in deed have great breakfasts and a good bar/pub menu and some surprising items on the dinner menu. I has sushi there that was excellent as well as basics like fried clams and baked fish standards.

                                            1. re: almansa
                                              treb RE: almansa Jul 25, 2010 05:28 AM

                                              Here's a good reason to go, udine4less.com has a bogo for Lobsta Land.

                                            2. s
                                              somervilleoldtimer RE: lunabug Jul 25, 2010 07:01 AM

                                              I've had amazingly sweet and delicious fried clams at a bar/restaurant very near the harbor, on the inland side of the main street, just about across from the fancy restaurant on the wharf. Can't remember the name. It has an unprepossessing outside, then when you walk in there are two raised booths with round tables, and a number of other booths and tables. (Can someone help me out here, please?) Anyway, the fried clams were terrific. Apparently, the owner gets them fresh each day right off the boat, and it showed. Food was otherwise unexceptional, but I have gone back several times just for those clams.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: somervilleoldtimer
                                                bgavin RE: somervilleoldtimer Jul 26, 2010 06:56 AM

                                                Dear Somerville Old Timer --
                                                What town? Are you talking Gloucester or Rockport or Essex?
                                                I am sorry for loosing track of the thread.

                                                1. re: somervilleoldtimer
                                                  SEH RE: somervilleoldtimer Jul 26, 2010 09:53 AM

                                                  Could this be Topside Grill & Pub in Glouc? I have never been inside or eaten there. They advertise a low price lobster dinner... like $14 or something like that.

                                                  Topside Grill
                                                  50 Rogers St, Gloucester, MA 01930

                                                  1. re: somervilleoldtimer
                                                    resipsaloquitor RE: somervilleoldtimer Jul 27, 2010 03:11 PM

                                                    Sounds like the Pilot House.

                                                  2. drewinmrblhd RE: lunabug Jul 26, 2010 11:25 AM

                                                    Capt' Carlos?

                                                    1. t
                                                      tastest RE: lunabug Aug 4, 2010 07:38 AM

                                                      After spending 5 nights in Gloucester:
                                                      1) Best quality and freshest fish and chips @ Charlies Place, Gloucester- on a side road on our way to hotel, we found this gem.Amazing value. A family type place we loved.
                                                      2) Stone Soup in Essex was ok, kind of retro- super huge platter of fried clams on top of fried onion rings and fries. Platter so big I could only eat 1/4 of it.
                                                      3) Down River ice cream- excellent but why is everthing so huge in portion size.?Sizes are ridiculous , huge and no smaller sizes available., so that you feel sick after eating a cone.
                                                      4) Farnhams clams- easily the poorest quality, overbrowned, could not even tell if a clam was in the batter. Avoid unless you want to be fleeced for money.
                                                      5) Captain Carlos- nice ambiance for waterfront, food quality just ok. bar type place , good for groups
                                                      6) Virgillos- thanks everyone for this rec, super great sandwiches and pastries.

                                                      it is wise to warn visitors that many places take cash only. This was a new experience for us as travellers.

                                                      Martha's Stone Soup - CLOSED
                                                      517 Old Sandwich Rd, Plymouth, MA 02360

                                                      Captain Carlo's Restaurant
                                                      27 Harbor Loop, Gloucester, MA 01930

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