This week I went to my good friend Diane’s BIG birthday party! The party planners chose the Grapevine in Salem. Apparently, the Grapevine is an excellent spot for a hilarious and relaxed birthday dinner. Does this birthday girl look like she’s having fun? Yes she does! We weren’t able to use their private dining room, so we were seated at a large table in the back. There probably aren’t many restaurants on the north shore that would put up with us as graciously as the Grapevine’s staff did. I won’t tell you anymore about the birthday party- that’s all pretty confidential…just don’t email me and ask if I can fix up your recently divorced brother-in-law with this gal because she is already taken!
Anyway, back to The Grapevine. The Grapevine has a been a popular destination in Salem for many years- twenty maybe? more? They have many favorable, but dated, reviews on their website and also on many of the independent review sites. They seem to have a loyal following of regulars who have very fond memories of good times at the Grapevine. The great service comes up over and over. I would agree that the service was great. Our waitress was fantastic. It is challenging to wait on a table of ten women and when we asked her to subtract the cash we had, and divide the tab between seven credit cards and double up on one of them, she smiled, mentioned that she did not have an advanced degree in mathematics and then divided it all up. The tip was already on the bill- good thinking. I am so glad we don’t have a video of the whole bill negotiation thing.
I polled the women who were at this fun dinner and they almost all said the food was great. One woman said about her salad…
“I think it had raddichio and pecorino romano cheese (remember that discussion, goats vs sheep?) I can’t remember which it was, except it was the first one listed under salads and I think it had walnuts, oh yes, and you could choose between goat or bleu cheese and we had the bleu cheese. It was really good.”
Let me clarify that the thing about the goats v sheep- pecorino romano cheese either comes from sheep’s milk or goat’s milk- does anyone out there know which? Anyway…
Another woman said,
“I had the pork tenderloin with a “fresh herb crust and roasted fall vegetables”….The pork was delicious! very moist and not over-cooked! The roasted veggies, especially the brussels sprouts, were great, as well…”
The biggest foodie among us said…
“I shared a salad with Diane – with apples/walnuts/goat cheese and I had the
swordfish – it was great, very moist, extremely hot and veggies were great
too. I was most impressed with the fact that everything seemed so hot when
it was served, which I find to be one of the most difficult things to
achieve when cooking for more than a few!”
So the women at this party really liked the food, but I must be honest, and I hope that I won’t hurt anyone’s feelings; I thought the food was pretty mediocre. Perhaps I ordered the wrong thing. I had a way over-dressed caesar salad with a TON of parmesan cheese on it and the pasta of the day which was a mushroom ravioli. It tasted good, but was really chewy. I wish that I had tasted some of the other dishes, but we were having too much fun to think too much about the food. I also would say that the decor could use a little update. There are silver Christmas ball ornaments hanging from the ceiling, so I guess that is sort of festive, but I don’t know, I think they could use a new carpet and definitely some fresh paint. One of the reviews I read made mention of this in a 2008 review. It’s a little tired looking, but maybe that is good for a 50th birthday celebration. I know I am a little tired looking too, so I felt right at home. I guess I would say that the strength of the Grapevine is just that- it’s a comfortable and unpretentious restaurant with a warm atmosphere, decent food and good service. It was the perfect spot for this enthusiastic birthday celebration.