Hits and Misses at Salem’s Green Land Café

Posted: January 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bistro, Green Land Cafe, Salem | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments »

There are a lot of things that appeal to us about Green Land Café in Salem, including the warm décor with exposed brick and old hardwood floors, the creative menu, and the emphasis on local ingredients. We had had lunch there during the summer and really enjoyed the meal, so expectations were high during our visit last weekend. Unfortunately only some of the food lived up to those expectations.

Our meal started off well. We were pleased to see an Oregon Pinot Gris on the wine list ($8), and it was delicious. The cocktail list is extensive and includes a slew of classics like The Sazerac and the Singapore Sling along with signature drinks like the Fig-a-Rita and the Harvest Moon (featuring pear vodka, fig syrup, and fresh orange).

We sampled the Ode to New York ($10), a twist on the Manhattan made with cynar bitters, and a Dirty Sexy Dirty with maytag-stuffed olives ($12). Both were well made and good sized. Alongside was outstanding artisan bread paired with delicious honey butter. Our starter was also very good: crispy flatbread topped with mushrooms, Vermont goat cheese, and truffle honey ($12). We didn’t get much of a sweet note, but the crust was great and the mushrooms were tasty.

All of the entrees are priced reasonably, and there’s a good selection, including a chef’s cut of beef from Maine’s Pineland Farms and several vegetarian options. But some of the portions were small, and several of the dishes lacked flavor. The New England scallops were fresh and tender, but the accompanying butternut squash risotto was completely bland ($21). The roasted organic chicken came with mashed potatoes, asparagus, and basil cream ($19). The skin was tasty and crispy, but the meat was a bit dry.

We likewise were disappointed by the Pineland New York sirloin ($23), which was not tender and had an unpleasant amount of gristle. The roasted fennel and parsnip fettuccini was the best of the evening, with an earthy wild-mushroom sauce perfectly balanced by tangy pecorino romano ($16).

The desserts, although good sized, were once again flat. We tried the flourless chocolate cake and the chocolate bread pudding, both $6.

Since the bar was hopping as we left, and we’ve heard good things about the tapas menu, we hope the Green Land kitchen can bring its dinner offerings up to the level of the drinks and starters.

Green Land Café
87 Washington Street, Salem
(978) 744-7766

Green Land Cafe on Urbanspoon


5 Comments on “Hits and Misses at Salem’s Green Land Café”

  1. #1 Jill said at 10:56 am on January 25th, 2011:

    I have tried the Green Land Cafe a couple of times, and unfortunately no matter how much we liked the food (which we did, for the most part, but as you say, a few items fell flat), the noise was just too overwhelming. I couldn’t carry on a conversation with my dining partner who sat across from me at a 2-top in the window. Another time we sat outside in the October cold and it was much more enjoyable- we were cold but we could converse.

  2. #2 Corey said at 11:01 am on January 25th, 2011:

    I tried the lunch menu and experienced much the same things. Great drinks, great apps and tapas, but when we got to our main sandwiches, we were not impressed. My steak was dry and unappealing, my mom’s tuna was not what she expected, and overall we left not exactly expecting to return.

  3. #3 megan said at 11:01 am on January 25th, 2011:

    My husband and I just moved here and were greatly anticipating this restaurant. We had had a very yummy lunch there when we were first scouting out the area. Since moving here we have eaten there twice and have had very mixed feelings. Your review is spot on with our own findings.

  4. #4 Matt said at 4:34 pm on January 25th, 2011:

    I have to agree. We’ve been to Green Land three times and absolutely love the ambiance and the drinks. I am not bothered by the noise. I rather like feeling like I’m at a happening place. Also the overall noise helps to drown out the conversation of the neighboring tables as some of the tables are a bit too close together. Oddly enough the overall noise adds a sense of privacy.

    We’ve consistently liked our appetizers. We’ve tried many, but our favorite is the scallops and bacon. The best we’ve ever had. As for entrees we’ve tried the steak and the chicken. Both weren’t overly memorable. The chicken was actually quite good, but I wasn’t a fan of the sides. The steak was very bland.

    On our most recent visit our waitress was flat-sat with 4 tables at once, yet service was still stellar.

    Aside from the somewhat bland entrees, my only real complaint is the drink prices. Although the drinks are good, you can’t try many without significantly increasing your bill.

  5. #5 m said at 12:55 pm on January 26th, 2011:

    Also expensive

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