Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stearns & Hill's Bistro: Shepherd's Pie!

Stearns & Hill's Bistro, a Melrose restaurant for over nine years, underwent a recent major renovation. Since its renovation, several people had raved to me about the food there. So I recently checked it out, and will be returning to further delve into their menu.

Though I have eaten here before, it has been quite some time since my last visit. The renovations have certainly transformed the place into a very classy establishment, with lots of wood and leather. A very comfortable and elegant place. Besides the main dining room, there is a moderate sized bar area.

The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner. The dinner menu is fairly extensive with Appetizers (about $6.99-$12.99), Soups & Salads ($3.99-$8.99), Pasta, Ravioli, Risotto ($14.99-$23.99), Entrees ($15.99-$27.99), Seafood ($13.99-$22.99) and Side Dishes ($3.99). You can also order Sandwiches, Burgers and Pizza. With all those choices, any diner should be able to find something that appeals to him. Prices are reasonable, especially considering the quantity of food you seem to receive.

I was very pleased to see the restaurant began our meal by serving us warm bread with soft butter. A big thumbs up from me for that little touch.

We began our meal with a couple of appetizers: Crab Cakes ($10.99) and Lobster Ravioli ($12.99). The crab cakes come with a black bean-corn salsa and dipping sauce. They were rather average, and could have used more crab meat as well as be cooked a bit less. The lobster ravioli though were excellent, with plenty of lobster meat, tender pasta and with lobster meat in the delightful creamy sauce as well. I would definitely order those ravioli again.

As for entrees, the Nantucket Pie ($21.99) was a casserole of broiled haddock, shrimp, scallops, and lobster topped with buttery cracker crumbs. This dish was loaded with seafood, with no fillers, and the topping was very light, not the thick breading you find on some casseroles. All of the seafood seemed very fresh and was quite tasty. The buttery sauce was also minimal so the seafood was not swimming in it. I would recommend this dish.

With some trepidation, I ordered the Shepherd's Pie ($15.99). The menu states it is a casserole of ground veal, lamb, beef & pork, topped with corn, mashed potato, brown gravy and melted cheese. It sounded delicious but I have been disappointed before by many restaurant offerings of Shepherd's Pie. Maybe I am just too picky about this dish. But this Shepherd's Pie delivered in a big way!

There were no surprise ingredients. The menu described exactly what you got. And it tasted superb. The ground meat and light gravy was extremely flavorful, well spiced and tender. The potatoes, covered with gooey cheese, were light and creamy, without any lumps. All of the ingredients complemented each other, and the dish was fairly large, though I did finish it. It was everything I desired from a Shephed's Pie and I would have to place it as one of the best Shepherd's Pie I have ever eaten. It gets my highest recommendation.

Service was very good, without any issues. Though I only tasted a small portion of the menu items, this restaurant shows much promise. Three of the four items were excellent, and well worth ordering again. I will be sure to return and check out more of their dishes, if I can stop myself from ordering the Shepherd's Pie again.

Stearns & Hill's Bistro
505 Main Street
Melrose, MA
Phone: 781-662-9111

Stearns & Hill's Bistro on Urbanspoon

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