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Entries in Grafton (2)

Friday
Aug242012

Janet's Hilltop Lounge & Restaurant

Janet’s Hilltop Lounge & Restaurant

59 Maple Ave
South Grafton, MA 01560

(508) 839-6838

“I’ve found a new place,” the friend uttered in a whisper, “you have to try it.”

Why does everyone whisper places to try?  It’s like they want it to be a secret so nobody else knows.  It’s my observation the word quickly gets out on good places with the market determining if the place is good or not.

Janet’s Hilltop Lounge & Restaurant is hardly new.  They’ve been around since 2004, and the place was known as Rick’s Hilltop Lounge and Restaurant for decades previously.  That’s an important fact, since the sign out front still says Rick’s Hilltop.

One night after work, the Gotta-Eat guy, Bruce Tretter, and I headed over.  Bruce was back from a trip to the west coast, and we had to get caught up.  The last time we were out, Bruce was enamored with my car….so he had to drive it this beautiful late summer Wednesday evening.

Getting to Rick’s, er, Janet’s looked fairly easy on MapQuest…head over to 122S, make a right on Depot and a left onto Maple.  One problem…there is a bridge on Depot running one way now.  So head over to 122S, make a right on Ferry, and then a right onto Maple.  Janet’s is on the left.

Entering the building, we were standing in and area reminiscent of my grandmother’s kitchen.  There was a young woman studying her AP History at a small table lit by a table lamp.  Asking her where to sit, she told us anywhere so we went into the dining room and grabbed a booth. 

The restaurant has a homey feel to it, a kind of local place where you’d be comfortable meeting local friends.  Our waitress was very friendly and engaging, immediately suggesting Buffalo Chicken Tenders as an appetizer.

While our appetizer was being prepared, we had the opportunity to meet the owner, Janet.  She told us she’d worked at Rick’s for 20 years, and when she took it over was going to just keep the same name.  Her friends began making menus and t-shirts with Janet’s name on them, so she decided to ease into renaming the place.  They pump out 220-240 dinners on a busy Friday night.

We asked her for dinner recommendations.  Any of the fried seafood was off limits, as the fresh seafood is delivered on Thursdays.  She did recommend ribs (“I make my own sauce”), lobster roll (served on a Kaiser roll (“no buttered hot dog bun here”) with a half-pound lobster), or mac and cheese (with sharp cheddar, Monterrey Jack, and Velveeta.)  Mom didn’t make her mac and cheese with Velveeta, so we opted for the ribs and the lobster roll.

The Buffalo Tenders we unremarkable chicken strips swimming in a Buffalo Chicken Sauce. There was no subtle flavoring here, the sauce smothered the chicken.

The ribs were of the baby back variety, albeit a bit fatty even for ribs.  They were cooked nicely, and fell off the bone.  The sauce was respectable, along the lines of a KC Masterpiece doctored up.  Suffice to say the folks at KC Masterpiece don’t need to worry about their BBQ sauce sales.  We didn’t finish the ½ rack of ribs.

The Kaiser roll was indeed carrying an enormous amount of lobster.  Sadly, the lobster was overcooked.  The combination of the very bready Kaiser roll and lobster didn’t work, so the roll got left behind.  A good dose of vinegar provided some much needed moisture for the entry.

Overall, getting to Janet’s was a bit of an adventure, and the homey feel and very nice wait staff made it interesting.  Overall the food was a disappointment.

So if you’re in the area, drop in….and don’t make a special trip.

Hours

Lunch

Wed                             11:30AM – 2PM
Thu, Fri, Sat                 11:30AM-4PM

Dinner
Wed                             5PM – 9PM
Thu, Sat                       4PM – 9PM
Fri                               4PM – 10PM

Lounge

Wed, Thu                     11:30AM – 11PM
Fri, Sat                         11:30AM – 1AM

Sun – Tue                     Closed.

Janet’s Hilltop Lounge & Restaurant gets an AMBER LIGHT – Use Caution

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money

Friday
Jun292012

25 On The Common

25 On The Common
The Grafton Inn

25 Grafton Common
Grafton, Massachusetts 01519-1521

(508) 839-5931

Years ago I made a wrong turn on Rt 495 and ended up living in Florida. It took me a year to find my way back to Massachusetts, and some great friends insisted I live in their Grafton home until settled. They lived a short walk from the Grafton Inn where some great traditional burgers could be found.

Fast forward, and the Grafton Inn has new owners (John and Laurie Pardee have owned the building since 2000, leasing it in 2007, and reassuming operations in 2009 when the operator failed due to the economy.)  Westborough diners will remember the Pardees from the Crooked Putter (now Mulligans.)

Dropping in on Father’s Day with my kids, there was something nice about the Pardees being away for the weekend and their son Adam acting as manager and bartender.

The Grafton Inn is a real operating Inn, with seven rooms, in continuous operation since 1805. Our waitress shared rumors of one of the rooms being haunted, although we’ve never seen any evidence of a haunting over several visits.

We entered the Inn from the parking lot, walking the length of the building to a host/hostess station. We had our pick of three areas. The bar (including bar seating and table seating) is a cozy space…a great place to catch a game or meet friends. The dining room, an uninspiring space we find a little austere. Or the outdoor patio. Having just hiked Purgatory Chasm as a family, we opted for the outdoor patio.

We were quickly seated and had beverages in our hands promptly.

The menu gave a wide variety of options, all traditional fare and variations on pub food.

We went with the special stuffed mushroom appetizer, and the following entrees:

 

  • Fajita – chicken fajita, served with shredded cheese, peppers, onions diced tomatoes and sour cream with warm tortilla. Other than being surprised the entrée wasn’t served sizzling, this got good marks.
  • Popcorn Shrimp and Fried Clams – all very tasty, although the fries serving as a bed were soggy.
  • Teriyaki beef – a nice presentation didn’t obscure the overly fatty beef selection.
  • Portabella Burger – grilled portabella mushroom (actually, two) served on a toasted bun with red pepper, spinach and feta cheese – a perfect summer burger.

 

The Grafton Inn may give the external appearance of being a stuffy place, and the restaurant is a quite comfortable affair. The restaurant excels at pub food…and the bar/patio are some of our favorite places to visit.

Hours                          

Tuesday            11:30am to 9pm

Wednesday       11:30am to 9pm

Thursday           11:30am to 9pm

Friday               11:30am to 10pm

Saturday           11:30am to 10pm

Sunday              Noon to 8pm

Monday             Closed

25 On The Common gets a GREEN LIGHT…go and enjoy.

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money