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East Coast Grill - dinner report, 11/7/09

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Myself and the SO went there last night. We were quite disappointed especially considering the positive opinions we had heard about the restaurant. After reviewing some of the opinions on the board about the place, it looks like our experience wasn't too far out of the ordinary.

Drinks were terrible. Their hard iced tea was weird tasting. I asked about ti and they said there was allspice in it. I had some punch that went down easy enough but wasn't worth the $8. And I also had a taste of the pepper martini because I was thinking about ordering it and I almost vomited. Yay!

Apps were OK. Oysters were fine but somewhat expensive at $2.15 apiece. Mango should never be put into a mignonette sauce. The Raw Tuna Poke would have been much better if they didn't cover up the flavor of the very nice tuna with what tasted like bottled ginger dressing.

Main course was awful. Tuna tacos with WAYYYY too much cumin and cheapo FLOUR!!!!! tortillas and some sort of weird sour dressing. Why do they have to ruin the nice fish? I had Burnt Ends BBQ sandwich. Everything about it and the sides that were served with it were terrible. Watermelon, in November, really?

Service was fine. Prices seemed reasonable to a bit high. We won't be going back.

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East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

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  1. I've never understood hounds' fascination with the place, but when I lived around the corner it was perfectly serviceable as a neighborhood joint. You have to remember, though, that it's been open a really long time and has gone through a bevy of chefs. I do wonder why you included a link to a Chinese restaurant in Dorchester, however.

    1 Reply
    1. re: almansa

      Look at the Manage Your Links feature that has been added recently and all should be revealed.

    2. I haven't been there in a very long time. My impression was that it was on the good side of ordinary, but certainly not worth the long lines and hassle getting seated. I have had some good times at the bar.

      I think this place is one example of the (maddeningly) long memories of many area diners. It was exciting when it was new and the restaurant landscape was very different, and many people seem still to think of it that way.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jajjguy

        I think you are exactly right. I remember being a frequent diner there when they first opened. Everything we had was fabulous, the drinks were great. It was definitely new & exciting. About 3yrs into operation, they changed their recipe for their bbq, and they totally lost us.

      2. Unfortunately your experience has been the norm for me. I've never had a visit that matched the quality of food other 'hounds report. Product quality isn't high, but by the far the biggest failure is a total miss in execution. Plates come out a mess, overcooked, and oddly seasoned. To top it off, prices are rather high, particularly for the neighborhood.

        To give concrete examples, the BBQ trio platter is about $20, and includes spare ribs, beef brisket, and shredded pork. The first two are horribly dry and bland. The shredded pork is pretty good--but, hey, it is pork shoulder. The crusted tuna is just shy of $30, and it just looks awful once served: never cooked to my rare or medium rare request, falling apart, and crusted with white pepper.

        I live in Boston now, but I lived several years in Cambridge, and tried to love East Coast as a neighborhood joint, but it wasn't meant to be.

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        East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
        1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

        9 Replies
        1. re: rlove

          Wow. Lotta ECG haters.
          I have to rise in support. I've always (10-15X) had good experiences at ECG. Love the veggie platter of the day. love the mussel app. Love the chinese rib app and the hell bones. Had a GREAT meal at this year's Hell Night.
          Yeah it can be pricey, but for the $, I don't consider it bad, at all.
          So YMMV, as they say.

          1. re: justbeingpolite

            I have to back ECG as well, I can't think of a bad meal ever at this place. They have the freshest seafood around...follow them on Twitter and you'll see that Chris is often out there catching his own fish (with the help of the pro's)

            1. re: justbeingpolite

              I've only had one dinner there (grilled spice-crusted mahi mahi, mmm), and absolutely loved it. However, I'm less interested in going back for dinner per se than in trying their brunch. What's the consensus on that?

              1. re: somuchdessert

                There is no such thing as consensus on Chowhound. I like the ECG brunch a lot, especially the bloody mary bar. They have a lot of savories on the brunch menu which is pleasing, and I especially love Tortilla Rellenas Con Pato Loco ... Smoked Duck 'n' Jack Cheese with Garlic Seared Greens & Fried Yucca

                I also have to defend the tuna tacos the OP dissed. One of the best flavor combos in town, with cuminy rare tuna, creamy avocado, crunchy jicama and a crema that is tangy with tamarind and lime. Just love it.

                That said, I never go to ECG for dinner, usually just raw bar, a wet bone or two, and those tacos.

                1. re: yumyum

                  There is NO PLACE in town that does a black and blue tuna like ECG. Nowhere.At any price point.

                  1. re: galleygirl

                    Word.

                  2. re: yumyum

                    I am a little confused by the OP - "Why did they ruin a nice piece of fish?"
                    Why then order it in tacos? IIRC, ECG has a chalkboard list of the fresh fish of the day that you can have prepared more basically, without the taco junk, if just a nice piece of fish is your thing.

                  3. re: somuchdessert

                    Made it to brunch at ECG for the first time last weekend, and really liked it. Lots of fun small plates and tasty entrees. My wife and I split a Cuban Reuben and some french toast, both of which were pretty good. We got some plantains and perfectly crispy fried yucca to start. It's a great alternative to the standard eggs and toast kinds of places, and the ambiance is really festive and fun. They open at 11, but folks start lining up earlier. We didn't have any trouble getting a table.

                    1. re: blink617

                      Plantains and perfect fried yucca? I'll be there. Thanks for the tip!

              2. I'm joining the lovers on this one. We've been eating at ECG for almost 20 years and have never had a bad meal or service. It took the Hounds to turn me on to the tuna tacos, which I really like so thank you. Do they still do the chicken livers on the salad? We've had great brunch there, funky french toast, duck, good stuff.

                I guess I don't see the problem with flour tortillas or even with putting mango in your mignonette. Are they advertising themselves as purists?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Splendid Spatula

                  please..East Coast Grill is great neighborhood place doing a whole bunch of things right..the number of restaurants doing the job ECG has done for the length of time its been doing it are few and far between..to knock ECG in town like Boston/Cambridge where the number of good restaurants are scarce is silly...the OP sounds like they have an ax to grind

                  1. re: jvish

                    Well, on some of the contrarian threads that pop up from time to time, you'll find a number of people agreeing that they don't get ECG, myself included. I'd certainly have no axe to grind as it is close to where I live and I love the idea of it on paper. In practice it leaves me mostly cold.

                2. I've got to disagree on the flour tortilla comment. While, I personally prefer corn tortillas (and really don't even consider a folded stuffed flour tortilla to be a taco), fish tacos are most traditionally served in a flour tortilla as this is the style in Baja and California where they were popularized.