Melrose >Food & Dining > Stearns & Hill's Bistro
505 Main St, Melrose, MA | Directions 0217642.455239 -71.065102
Mon - Wed, 11:30am - 10pm; Thu - Sat, 11:30am - 11pm; Sun, 11:30am - 9pm
Family dining at its worst!!! – We went there on a Thursday night around 8pm for dinner. We were seated right away by a very nice hostess. It took a while for the waitress but that was not the problem. We were seated in the restaurant area but all you could hear was loud talking and almost screaming from the bar area. At one point the manager came around to ask how things were and we mentioned that the bar area was extremely loud and that we had come to a restaurant not a bar. Melrose does not allow patrons to just drink at a restaurant and they are supposed to enforce a two drink maximum. Our food came and we ate without having the waitress ever come back to check and yes we did want refills on our drinks but had a hard time getting her back to the table. The restaurant was not very full so there was no excuse. Meanwhile, the patrons at the bar started swearing and they were so loud that we could not enjoy our meals. We asked the waitress for our check and got our meals wrapped to go and then asked to speak with the manager. We told the manager that we had to get our meals to go because the bar area was not only loud but that people were swearing and that this is not acceptable at a family restaurant. She stated " there's nothing I can do about it." To this, we both replied that she is the manager and it is her job to stop people from getting intoxicated, and loud and especially from swearing. We were not at a hole in the wall bar but in an upscale "bistro". She said next time we should ask to sit further away. We told her that there would not be a next time but that she still didn't get the fact that this was not acceptable and this was her job to keep control.
Loved the burgers. We come from NYC where Burgers are KING and S&H was better.
Not worth the wait – Four of us recently went to Stearns & Hills on a Saturday night, we use to go there monthly before they closed for renvations and have greatly anticipated their reopening. At 7:25 pm we were told there was a 45 minute wait, at 8:35 pm (1 hour, 10 minutes later) we were shown to our table. If we had been told how long the wait would really be we would have gone elsewhere. Although they have a new, beautiful & bigger bar area it is very awkward to wait in there since all the tables are reserved for dining and you are basically staring at people as they try to enjoy their dinner. Of course the wait was not their fault, but they just couldn't get anyone out of there. Although we have always liked Stearns & Hills, we would not have waited that long for a table. Our waitress was okay considering some of the waitresses we have had in the past (although we have always enjoyed the food, the service has always left something to be desired). The prime rib was great, the veal chop was good, the seafood dish was bland and overcooked (the shrimp, lobster & scallops rubbery), the pizza was barely a step above frozen. With the exception of the pizza we have ordered all of these dishes in the past, in fact they are our 'regular dishes'. The veal chop has always great and a favorite of ours, we actually go here because three of us love the veal chop, but it was not as good as it use to be. Although we have not had the pizza in the past we have been told it was really good, maybe it is different now that they have reopened, but I would not even consider it fair. After we finished our meals our plates sat in front of us for a minimum of 15 minutes. All in all we were very disappointed, we waited so long for them to reopen and then so long for a table. All four of us decided we would not return.
Not worth the wait! – We like others waited a long time while this place was closed for renovations. The place looked beautiful and comfortable and seemed to accommodate quite a few more guests. We were a party of 6. When we said we need a table for six and were waiting for 3 more she said to let her know when we were all there. When we did she became indignant and said well I don't have a table ready now. Strike 1. We enjoyed a drink at the bar while our table was prepared. We sat down and ordered another round with the waitress. My husband ordered a top shelf whiskey. She came back and said that she didn't have it on her screen. Strike 2. He knew that the bar carried it, because he saw the bottle on the shelf when ordering our drinks before. Once the drink issue was semi resolved we ordered a few appitizers. The buffalo chicken tenders are a favorite of mine however those of us who had them thought they were extremely lacking in flavor not to mention the portion was half the size of any place else I've had them. Strike 3. Now the entrees. One of us has a sodium restricted diet. He thought that he would ask the waitress what could be done without salt. After a little heming and hahing she comes up with scallops. Scallops are naturally high in sodium. The correct response should have been, "let me ask the chef." Instead of us telling her to do that. Strike 4. There was also a substitution of a side. Although it states clearly on the menue that substitutions are an additional $2, I thought it was pretty obscene not to wave that for someone with a food restriction/allergy. (I can substitute anything I want at Outback without cost or hassle) Strike 4. The entrees arrive. The potato is cold the beans are under cooked and the steak is dry and tough. Strike 5. Infact everyone in our party agreed that the old Steans and Hill was much better. The food and the Service. Lower the price and train the staff better. We won't be back.
Neighborhood disappointment – We had relatively high expectations for this bistro that had been closed for many many months for renovations. While we were pleased with the decor, we found that the beautiful tin ceiling offered no buffer for the exceptionally loud bar area. We spent our entire dinner hearing the full conversation of the business owner of a local window cleaning company ranting about how he hates his customers. (Remind me never to call him!) The service was far below par. We waited at least 20 minutes before a wait person even acknowledged us, 15 minutes before she took out drink orders, 10 minute before she delivered out drinks and took our order, 15 minutes to tell us they were out a main entree and on and on. Our dinners were good, but nothing which would make me choose them over another well known restaurant in the area. We had caesar salad in which the dressing was clearly a nondescript version that one might get in a sub shop. I had the risotto with seafood which was pretty good; the lobster was tender and fresh, the scallops cooked to perfection, and shrimp equally as nice. My partner had the fish which was perfectly cooked and fresh. The dessert was obviously not made on premises and tasted of prolonged refrigeration. Alas, we can only give two stars as the noise, painfully slow service, and poor quality desserts overshadowed what we had hoped would be a regular eatery for us.
My new – There's a waitress we've had twice now who spoiled the evening for us. Last night, she made us wait for 20 minutes before saying "I'll be right with you". No apologies, terse service, never brought the bread we saw at every other table. I left a15% tip anyway 'cause I want to be welcome in this otherwise wonderful restaurant (normally tip 20%). I watched as the rest of the waitstaff were excellent with other tables around us. I wanted to contact the restaurant directly to complain, but they have no website, so I post my negative experience here instead. I've reduced my star count from 4 to 2. Here's my previous review before last night's bad experience:
Love the renovation ! Beautiful tin ceiling, nice dark wood throughout. Eaten there 10 times since re-opening. Food is very good. Scallops were sublime. Chicken Pasta Broccoli could use a lighter garlic/white wine sauce rather than the creamy parmigiana sauce they offer, but that's a personal preference. The first time we went they were out of a local microbrew beer on tap, but have sinced learned they have Long Trail Ale Unfiltered IPA, which readies us for another return visit. For lunch, the Reuben sandwich is a treat.
don't go back until it works out the kinks – Stearns & Hill's Bistro finally reopened just last week - I ate there last night and can only recommend that you wait until it's worked out the kinks. This is disappointing given that this is merely a reopening by experienced owners and staff.
The hostess was wearing a Morticia Adams getup, with a sheer skirt that displayed what little was underneath, not what I want to see when eating. My table ordered one soup, an entree and a couple of appetizers to be served alongside the entree. The Caesar salad dressing is forgettable, and it was almost 20 min. between the removal of the salad and delivery of the entree and apps. Once we finished eating and asked for the leftovers and check, it was another 20 minute wait. To be fair to the server, she was working as quickly as she could, though it wasn't until she'd delivered the check that she told us the compter was down. Perhaps that was the reason for the earlier delay, but we were not given an explanation.
In the ladies and mens room, the towel dispensers were not working; the hostess mentioned that she couldn't find the paper towels that fit the dispenser.
Martini menu was not offered (if it still exists). Though the tinned ceiling is beautiful, it absorbs no sound so it was quite noisy; two couples sitting near me commented on the volume.
Not French. Continental / American – This restaurant has good, hearty, very tasty dishes. Everything I have tried was wonderful Service is terrific, and the ambiance is casual. Parking across the street, behind Turner's.
great customer service – Melrose doesn't have much, but what it has is a great martini bar in Stearn's and Hill Bistro (not a French restaurant), friendly, efficient servers and really good food. My personal favorites are: any steak; the broiled, grilled, or pan-seared scallops; outstanding pork chops;Nantucket pie (seafood casserole of shrimp, scallops and scrod); fantastic grilled and then baked pizza; any kind of risotto and their burgers!
Right now they are closed for renovations. Watch for their re-opening in the fall. Yumm.
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