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The Thrill of the Grill

East Coast Grill and Raw Bar is one of my favorite restaurants in Boston. This barbecue-seafood split personality restaurant offers some of the best food in town. Chef and grillman extraordinaire, Chris Schlesinger, avoids posturing as fine dining, and instead, focuses on serving up innovative, spicy seafood and grilled meat night after night.

Not fancy, but also not inexpensive (although there are inexpensive barbecue sandwiches available), East Coast Grill makes for a fun evening of good eating. While you wait (and you will almost always wait), try a Martin’s Margarita or one of the many other drinks the expert mixology staff concocts at the bar. From the moment it arrives, you know that you are in for a memorable meal. We always enjoy a “Blackboard Special” at the Raw Bar while we wait – usually an order of peel and eats soaked in Bud and Old Bay, or some oysters on the half shell. During our most recent visit, the Blackboard specials also included saut‚ed littlenecks with chorizo, roasted garlic, tomatoes and saffron, and cornmeal crusted cod as a main course.

When you are eventually seated in the noisy, diner-like dining area, you immediately notice a few things: first, the energy of the place; second, the intense heat radiating from the open kitchen where the grill master sweats in a hellish heat of flames; and last, an absolute uncertainty as whether to order seafood or meat. Although some have labeled the service as “churn and burn,” I always find the wait staff to be friendly and helpful, and I appreciate the quick service. I love watching the cooks do their thing on the grill. Every dish is given individual attention, and it shows.

A variety of appetizers are available, including a selection of salads and various seafood items listed on the blackboard. However, I am a creature of routine and always order the Price Edward Island mussels served in coconut milk with chiles and lime. Served with the best grilled bread (also available as a side on the menu), I am never disappointed. They are the tastiest mussels available anywhere I have dined.

The main course menu is split into three sections: Fresh Seafood, Spit Roasted and Grilled Entrees, and Oak Smoked Pit BBQ. Some of the fresh seafood offered includes a big bowl of seafood, including shrimp, scallops, mussels and fried whitefish in a spicy crab broth, chile glazed jumbo shrimp and scallops served over ginger-scallion noodles in a spicy crab broth, and grilled white pepper tuna. All three are delicious, and the tuna, served seared outside, rare inside) is known to be exceptional.

The best item listed under the Spit Roasted and Grilled Entrees section is the spit roasted, garlic and herb rubbed half chicken. The spices are extraordinary, and the chicken is so tender that it falls off of the bone. A nice sirloin steak is also available.

The Oak Smoked Pit BBQ section of the menu includes everything from eastern North Carolina shredded pork sandwich, dry-rubbed ribs, Texas style beef brisket, or a combination platter containing all three for those with a hearty appetite.
A large dessert list is offered, but I have never once had any room for dessert, unless sharing with the entire table. Ice cream from Christina’s, located next door, is delicious, as is the key lime pie.

When you’re finding the idea of yet another meal of Yankee fare frightening, you will find the good times, innovative seafood, and stick-to-your-ribs grilled meats offered at East Coast Grill and Raw Bar a refreshing alternative.

February 26, 2001
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