Restaurant Review: The Grog

It was a warm summer night and we were in search of some casual dining.  Neither one of us were in the mood for any specific type of food so we settled on a local pub type restaurant in Newburyport that I’ll call “The Frog”.  There were enough people in the place to make it seem to be a popular choice but not enough to confirm that we found a great place.  It was dark enough to be cozy pub like environment but not dark enough to be seedy.  We were seated immediately at a little table, literally a little table which was about 3 inches shorter than a standard table. I felt like I was at a tea party.  It was the only short table in the place and not the only empty table.  Our miniature table was just in front of a staircase that went down to a basement room.   The waitress was young and friendly and clearly new to the food service industry, not because the service was poor but because she was still too eager and happy about being a waitress.  She never mentioned the specials that we read on the board outside although when my friend ordered the burger special she knew what he was talking about.  I was eyeing the fish and chips but settled on the haddock sandwich, assuming it was basically a smaller version with a bun.  We also ordered the tapenade trio as an appetizer.

The waitress brought the appetizer which was three sizable portions of dip and 6 small slices of toasted baguette.  One dip was a puree of artichoke and garlic that was absolutely delicious; one was a puree of sundried tomatoes that was a bit too sweet to eat on its own; and the other was a classic olive tapenade that was overwhelmingly olivey but was tasty when mixed with either of the other two.  The portions of dips were so large that before even half of the dips were gone, we were out of bread.  As we were snacking away, a band began to warm up in the basement room below.  Since we were seated in front of the stairwell, the music filtered up and blew straight across us loud enough to feel a breeze.  We couldn’t hear each other speak unless we shouted and it continued through the rest of our time at “The Frog”.

Then the meals arrived.  His burger, a beef patty with onion, guacamole and chili spices was a mess on the plate and difficult to eat but was tasty and well cooked.  The side Caesar salad was watery and bland hardly worthy of its namesake.  The fish sandwich was a large portion of fried fish on a toasted onion roll with a side of deep fried steak fries and coleslaw.  The fish was hidden in a layer of think batter reminiscent of a funnel cake from a carnival side show.  The oil soaked through the bottom half of the roll until it was a soggy shame.  The fries were also oily and more limp than crisp and the tartar sauce had a strange glue like consistency that made it inedible.  The coleslaw was tasty but ordinary.  My friend finished his burger before I was done with my bowl of oil and the waitress was quick to sweep his plate away which is a big service no-no.  I felt unnecessarily rushed despite the now almost empty restaurant and knowing we were not in a hurry to leave.  It’s rare to find a casual restaurant with proper serving etiquette.  It’s a shame.  Overall, it was a disappointing meal and in a place that I won’t return to anytime soon.  There are plenty of pubs and this one did not stand out in any way other than the childhood nostalgia that I felt at our tea party sized table.

Is it a go again?  No.

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