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“A very nice experience!”
Review of Naumkeag Ordinary

Naumkeag Ordinary
Ranked #64 of 220 Restaurants in Salem
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$15 - US$30
Cuisines: American
Dining options: After-hours, Breakfast, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: After-hours, Breakfast, Reservations
Reviewed 8 June 2014

We liked this restaurant quite a bit -- and there's a lot of competition in this area of Salem! Service was attentive but not overbearing. Food was very good and flavorful and accessible. For example, we loved the corn dog appetizer, and my pasta had fiddleheads in it -- so they're not afraid to explore! We especially enjoyed sitting in the back, against the glass windows.

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Thank Fungirl7777777
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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76 - 80 of 103 reviews

Reviewed 1 June 2014

My daughter's Bridal Shower was here recently and it was wonderful! From initial planning to final cleanup, the place was neat, clean and nicely decorated ... the staff was friendly, helpful and seemed genuinely happy we were there. And the food ... big, happy surprise! Fresh, nicely plated, yummy!

Yes, I highly recommend this restaurant for all reasons!

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Thank JPCroke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 May 2014

Well, this night out was not a good one for the restaurant nor for us. We were there celebrating our anniversary and were using a Groupon. I had been here once before last Fall and had a mixed bag experience food-wise. Service was fine. This latest visit was the first for my wife.

When we arrived about 6:15 on this Tuesday night, we were only the third party at the restaurant. The woman who sat us was also our waitress. There was only one other person out front and that, it turned out, was the bartender. The chef/owner was in the kitchen preparing the meals. There was no one assigned to strictly manage the front of the house. This might be okay with a minimal number of patrons and everything goes well, but if something goes wrong, this can be a bad recipe.

If you haven't been here before, it's a relatively small place, with several small tables out front in the bar area, with perhaps about ten different sized tables in the back.

We told our waitress that we were celebrating our anniversary. We also decided on ordering a bottle of wine. When we asked for advice, she informed us that she had put the wine list together herself and had lots to say about the list. When we settled on a few possibilities, she offered to get us samples to help in our decision. We also asked for her advice in getting recommendations on items to order on the menu, which she also had much to say. She was certainly generous with her time initially. When she got back with wine samples, she also informed us that two of the wines she had recommended were no longer available, but she came with alternatives.

After she left us, an older man at a table of three which also included a couple of young guys, perhaps his sons, I'm not sure, rudely uttered aloud that she had spent too much time at our table. He got up to go the bathroom and then rudely chastised us as well. While in the bathroom, the two young guys were astonished as to this older guy's behavior and appeared to be embarrassed.

After he emerged from the bathroom and passed our table, we attempted to ask him why he was reacting the way he did, but he simply raised his middle finger and put it in our faces. After he got back to the table, the younger guys still seemed embarrassed, but explained to us that they were going to leave anyway.

From that moment on, though, we could hardly get our waitress's attention. She seemed to avoid our table. We had ordered earlier when we were still in her good graces, or whatever what was going on. She might have been getting chastised herself from the boss, I don't know.

We finally got our starter, which was quite good, one of her recommendations, and a new item. It was tempura corn dogs. The three few inch hot dogs inside were fine, but the coating was an interesting mixture of tempura batter over corn dog batter, then fried (of course). Not high on the healthy food list, but good.

But she never checked back on us to see how they were, like a server would normally do. The dining room had suddenly filled up with a few more tables, perhaps more than they were used to handling at that particular time in the evening. I don't know. She was handling all of them.

A bit later we got served two appetizers at the same time -- a very good salad, and steamed mussels. The mussels were supposed to be in a tomato, wine and garlic broth, but the broth only tasted of the seafood. We could detect no wine nor any garlic. After waiting around for a bit to see if we could ask about them, I decided to be pro-active and found her in the front bar area where you input the orders. I started by trying to be understanding, saying that she must have been under the gun with all of the orders, but I couldn't even get it all out before she sternly told me that she doesn't have time for me and that she "knows what we want -- black pepper." I responded that we were actually having a problem with the mussels. She told me she would have been over to our table if I had been patient. But she hadn't been to our table in a long time.

At the beginning of the evening, she was very good with us, but now she being was very terse and condescending. When we tried to explain about why we were disappointed with the mussels, rather than merely apologize, she just burst off saying in her trail that she would get the manager. Which turned out to be the chef. He handled it well, apologized. He explained how it should taste and we told him that it seemed to be missing a couple of important elements. He offered to make it again. It came a bit later, improved, but not greatly. We have definitely had better preparations of mussels. You could now taste some garlic and wine, but it was still faint and bland.

Our waitress finally returned with our main courses, a gnocchi and short ribs preparation, and what should have been a marinated hanger steak. Who I had thought was merely a bus person but turned out to be the bartender, took the remainder of the mussels dish away, but started to spill broth onto the floor near my wife. She caught herself and tried to right the angle of the plate with the broth on it. She thought she had it handled, but as she started to take another dish away, started to spill more within a couple inches of my wife's shoulder. When I tried to point it out, she sternly explained "I KNOW what I'm doing!" Sheesh. What the heck was going on tonight?!? My wife and I still were clear on trying to make the best of the time there. And we wondered what happened to the part of the waitress that had been so helpful? It was like Dr. Jeckyll and Mrs. Hyde.

Our waitress had strongly recommended the hanger steak, saying that she has it almost every time she comes in on her day off. I had had the short rib preparation in a previous visit. The short ribs were kind of mashed and softened among the gnocchi. A tasty dish, thought a bit saltier than I remembered. The hangar steak, though, was tasteless. We had ordered it medium rare and that was done properly. But while the outside was charred, the inside had no flavor. The chef, himself, came over to check in on us. We told him that we were disappointed with the flavor. He told us that he marinated the steak overnight so that it leaves a flavored outside and some of it gets to the inside. We didn't think any of it made it inside. We have had hanger steak dishes before and I have even done it at home and with a proper marination, the flesh inside should take on some of that flavor, but not here. It was really bland.

So all in all, it was a strange and inconsistent evening at the very least. The wine we had was decent and a very good value. The starter and the salad were really good, one of the entrees pretty good, but one entree was not good and the other starter was only so-so, and that was after a second try.

For some reason, the server took out her frustration on us when we really didn't do anything wrong. Sometimes you need suggestions at a restaurant, right? That she possibly didn't manage her time as well as she could have at the beginning is certainly not our fault. But taking it out on us a no-no. The owner/chef was fine, but the bartender also gave us attitude.

Again, I think not having someone manage the front of the house, essentially free-ranging to take care of problems, is not wise. Having to have the owner/chef come out of the kitchen to handle what a manager essentially should is not the best. If everything goes right, no issue. But if any issues arise, then it throws an operational design like that right off.

But the food being inconsistent, especially with the head chef doing the cooking is not so good either. After experience the food twice now, and now with this service issue, I don't see any reason to return. There are too many good restaurants in Salem with better consistency and better food.

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Thank AnalogJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 May 2014

We tried Naumkeag Ordinary a few months ago on a Saturday night. We thought it would be a lot more packed inside, but it was pretty quiet. The experience was pleasant - I got the short rib gnocchi, and it was delicious. Definitely worth the calories :) I'm rating this a 3 instead of a 4, only because the service was slow and disorganized, and that felt strange for it being empty inside. I think if you're in the area and want to try something different, Naumkeag Ordinary is a perfectly nice place to have a meal, but I wouldn't travel the distance we did just to go back. Overall, though, yummy meal.

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Thank paulav701
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 May 2014

We did a quick stop here after sightseeing and whilst waiting for our train back to Boston. Was late afternoon snacks. Was brilliant, could see people going by and soak up the sunshine on tables outside (although v well conditioned and cool inside). The guy that served us (sorry don't know name moved here from Chicago) was really friendly and helpful when had questions on menu etc. great food we had with this amazing sauce with corn fritters and v good value on cocktails too. Would recommend to anyone in the area.

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Thank DeborahOsborne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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