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Aug 24, 2010 10:23 AM

New to Melrose...

I am new to Melrose and having some special out of town guests visit mid-Sept. We will only be able to go out to dinner once during their stay, so I was wondering which Restaurant you would say is the best in Melrose?

We are planning a lunch at Stearns & Hill, and one friend does not eat seafood, so Turner's is out.

I was considering Absolutely Fabulous, and still am, as it is convenient to our house and seems to have a lot of vegetarian options, which is also a consideration. But, I am leary after reading a lot of terrible reviews re: service.

So I ask you Chowhounders... given these considerations, where should we go for one great dinner in Melrose?

Absolutely Fabulous
454 Main Street, Melrose, MA 02176

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  1. "Great" restaurant in Melrose does not exist. There are, however, several solid options. My best recs would be Turner's for fresh, solid seafood fare and high quality raw bar or Mexico Lindo for very good authentic mexican (including plenty of veggie options). Sushi Corner is underrated by many, though the space is too confined for me to consider it a dining out option.

    Sushi Corner
    18C Essex St, Melrose, MA 02176

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bob MacAdoo

      An oops for the seasfood recs, did not read the whole original post. My apologies for poor CH etiquette!

      And as Almansa notes, Melrose is well situated for quick foodie trips to excellent Asian and Winchester options, as well as some high quality traditional Italian places in Saugus, Wakefield and Stoneham.

    2. Welcome!
      If, as you say, Turner's is out I suggest you try Mexico Lindo across Main street. There's lots of meat and poultry options:

      Or go a little further afield and head over to Rte.1N to Donatello's. It's pleasant white linen Italian restaurant. The food is very good and the staff is quite professional:

      I haven't been to AbFab so can't comment...

      1. Melrose is no culinary Mecca, but it is at least a very convenient location. You have Fuloon in Malden and Chilli (sic) Garden in Medford - both a stone's throw away and both with outstanding Sichuan cuisine. 10 minutes away in Winchester is Parson's Table - a locavore sport with probably the best all around cooking in the area. Also in Winchester is Imari Fusion - a pan-Asian restaurant with creative maki and good non-seafood options. I have only been once to Absolutely Fabulous and that was enough for me.

        Absolutely Fabulous
        454 Main Street, Melrose, MA 02176

        1. There are several threads about choices in the Melrose, Malden and Wakefield areas on this board that you should search up (be sure to go further than last 12 months).

          FuLoon in Malden is a stand-out for the more authentically Chinese items on its menu (it also includes standard Americanized dishes, too, but that's not the focus). Personally, I love the manager (Diane Tang) and her efforts to make more authentic dishes accessible to non-Chinese folk. (Their dried bean curd leaf with pork belly remains a special delight I am happy to have popularized among Chowhounds.) Lots of threads on best choices can be found by searching.

          For something even more adventurous, Habesha is a relatively new Ethiopian restaurant on Main Street just north of the square.

          Stearns & Hill is meh; nice to look at, though.

          Absolutely Fabulous: haven't tried it given all the lemons on service issues and their refusal to have a proper website with menu (it just communicates a customer-hostile attitude, intentionally or not).

          Melrose is better than it used to be....

          375 Main St, Malden, MA 02148

          Habesha Restaurant
          535 Main St, Malden, MA

          1. I finally made it to Absolutely Fabulous a few weeks ago. I was a bit nervous when we walked in and felt like we were ignored as the server walked past us with no acknowledgement. But she came back fairly quickly and after that was friendly enough throughout the night.

            I was surprised at how unadventurous the menu was. I guess I expected it to be a bit less pedestrian Italian. We ordered fried calamari to start with, and it was fine. We'd had Silvertone's version a few nights earlier, and that's my favorite in the area. AbFab's version didn't top it, but it was passable.

            I'm having a hard time remembering what we even ate, which is out of character for me. I remember liking whatever it was I ate well enough, but also thinking that if I was going to go out for Italian (which I don't do often), there were other places I'd go first, like Ristorante Molise in Wakefield.

            We were there pretty late in the evening, and weren't asking much from the server, and as I said, she was friendly enough as well as competent. I wouldn't not go back because of service, but because I'm usually looking for more interesting options when I go out.

            I'll second the recommendation for Parsons Table, which is really excellent, and Winchester is only about 15 minutes away. Although, for that matter, so is Boston on a good traffic day.

            Absolutely Fabulous
            454 Main Street, Melrose, MA 02176

            Parsons Table
            34 Church St, Winchester, MA 01890

            4 Replies
            1. re: Chris VR

              Coincidentally I found the leftovers in the freezer last night. I had a chicken cutlet with prosciuttio and mozzarella. Again, it was fine, just nothing to get excited about. Hubby had a porkchop, which he seemed happy enough with. I'm remembering we had dessert now, nothing that special either.

              I agree with skipping Stearns and HIll too, but that's based on one meal and one night there for drinks and appetizers. Our meal was SO awful, and I've not heard anything from anyone else to lead me to believe it's worth giving them a second chance. But I do have a gift card, so maybe I'll give it one more try.

              1. re: Chris VR

                Btw, I think not only Don Michele Caruso died, but there appears to be no effort to revive his pizzeria. What's interesting is that there has been no local coverage of this non-development, which is odd given how important the place was for the local politicos.

                1. re: Karl S

                  I've been surprised by that too! I thought at first it was going to be temporary but when I drove by yesterday and saw the sign still up and looking pretty permanent, I figured that was it. I did like their Zaza but it wasn't worth the baggage.

                2. re: Chris VR

                  I would skip Stearns and Hill, Last time I was there, the food was not awful, but the staff there is odd. When we arrived, they asked if we wanted to be seated a two top- I asked the hostess if that was in the bar area- and she said" This is Melrose, we do not have bars!" WTH???? And my brother went there with his family, ( kids 5 and 7- who do not eat off of any kids menu), and the hostess and waitress told them they did not have a kids menu. My brother said that was fine,they would not use a kids menu anyway. Then the waitress said she could ask the kitchen if they could prepare something the kids would like- my nephew piped up that he wanted the calamri, and baked haddock, and my neice said she wanted the shrimp scampi. Just hate the attitude there- Not sure where they think the restaurant is, but it makes me crazy.