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Grotto today?

QuakerInBoston Oct 17, 2013 12:54 PM

I went through some old posts on CH and found that there was a lot of love for Grotto but most of it was in the > 1 year mark.

I went recently and found the food to be a mixed bag, the service laughable, and the wine to be stored/served at room temp. It wasn't crazy expensive but the accolades seem far from warranted.

Was this a great place in the past? It was crazy cramped and far from the romantic hideaway reviews make it out to be (but I could see it being that way if it were less crowded, to be fair).

It's not often I go to a place and it's SO far from what I expected (based on Yelp and CH reviews) that I have to assume either a really, really bad night or there's been a serious decline in quality.

  1. MC Slim JB Oct 18, 2013 07:53 AM

    This place has always had lovers and detractors here. With the caveat that I haven't been back in a while, I'm a fan of the food, though the palette runs to rich, fatty flavors, exemplified by the short-rib gnocchi with mushrooms and Gorgonzola.

    Romantic is obviously a very subjective call. I think I would have found it usefully romantic in a low-key way in my dating days: it's a decent value, casual enough to make it seem like you're not trying to hard, and is set in a dimly-lit, funky basement space. I used to bemoan the lack of a full license until I realized I could stop off at the bar at No. 9 first and then walk around the corner.

    The owner now has two other restaurants, so if there are quality issues, it may be that he's taken his eye off his first baby.


    1. C. Hamster Oct 18, 2013 07:40 AM

      I would never describe it as "romantic" either. But I always enjoyed their food and service. . Never ordered wine.

      Admittedly, I havent been there in probably about 9 months to a year

      Time foranother visit.

      1. Alcachofa Oct 18, 2013 07:30 AM

        If the service was bad, then that's not good. But it would be really helpful to know WHAT YOU ORDERED to give feedback on whether the food has changed or not. Maybe you ordered new items, maybe old favorites, how do we know?

        5 Replies
        1. re: Alcachofa
          QuakerInBoston Oct 18, 2013 09:13 AM

          Mussels. Caprese. Short Rib Gnocchi. Beef tenderloin. Panna Cotta. Choc. Cake.

          Even if the food was great (it was not), bad service and terrible wine practices are enough to make me question the comments, no?

          1. re: QuakerInBoston
            MC Slim JB Oct 18, 2013 09:25 AM

            I'm annoyed by wines served at the wrong temperatures -- whites at fridge temp, reds at room temp -- too. Way too common in Boston restaurants.


            1. re: MC Slim JB
              QuakerInBoston Oct 18, 2013 09:28 AM

              My real concern is that it wasn't super hot when I went but what happens over the summer when it hits 80-90+ in there?! You're going to get a ton of cooked wine!

              1. re: QuakerInBoston
                Gabatta Oct 18, 2013 10:27 AM

                Don't go to Grotto then. Problem solved.

                1. re: Gabatta
                  QuakerInBoston Oct 18, 2013 10:34 AM

                  Good call. Why even bother discussing restaurant-related things on a restaurant message board? Silly me!

        2. opinionatedchef Oct 17, 2013 09:10 PM

          i agree completely w/ you about it not being romantic. And the chairs are uncomfortable. but it has been like this since Grotto's beginning (and i believe the chairs are leftover from the previous occupant). And i also noted the warm wine and how strange to be served it. that said, there were/are a few menu items that we really liked.

          the chef/owner expanded with Marliave downtown some 5? yrs ago and also, more recently, with Kitchen,iirc, in So.End.

          1. StriperGuy Oct 17, 2013 02:30 PM

            Been a year or two but I've always liked the food and found it romantic , to each his own.

            1. Chris VR Oct 17, 2013 01:52 PM

              Good question, I'll be interested to see answers. Grotto was quite the Chowhound darling a few years ago (especially their "Big Night" special dinners) but I haven't seen much about it lately. I wondered if there had been a chef change?

              1. m
                mkfisher Oct 17, 2013 01:26 PM

                Where have you seen someone on Chowhound describe Grotto as romantic? It's a tiny and cramped basement with low ceilings. I think the food is quite good, and the 3 course price fixe deal is a good value. I can't speak to the wine, but the food has been fairly consistent over the last few years.

                2 Replies
                1. re: mkfisher
                  QuakerInBoston Oct 17, 2013 01:38 PM

                  Maybe not on CH but certainly all over Yelp and other lists. Fair enough on the food; I disagree but that's a matter of taste.

                  Yelp has 103 mentions of "romantic" under Grotto's page!

                  1. re: QuakerInBoston
                    mkfisher Oct 17, 2013 01:47 PM

                    Maybe people on Yelp think a tiny basement with low ceilings and densely packed tables is romantic?

                    Like I said, I quite enjoy the food. They're not in danger of winning a Beard medal or anything like that, but the food is solid for what they're shooting for. Totally understandable that you disagree. It's not a place I'd go out of my way to suggest (or visit), but in that general neighborhood it is one of the better options at that price point.

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